Kashmir Hill & Elie Mystal

Posts by Kashmir Hill & Elie Mystal

The heady days of the “mutual assured destruction” approach to associate compensation by Biglaw firms are behind us. But some associates would still like to see how they are doing in comparison to their colleagues at other firms. A tipster recently wrote us:

Can you do a post requesting commenters to post grade schedules a la greedyassociates back in the day showing salary per year. This would make comparisons easier. I’ll start:

Sheppard Mullin
1st year 145K
2nd 160
3rd 170
4th 185
5th 210
6th 225
then it gets vague with a range from 240-265K.

Some of this information is available in the firm profiles on the Above the Law Career Center. But as good greedy Sheppard-ite must know, comparing salaries is much more complicated these days due to some firms instituting merit-based compensation models.

WilmerHale is one of those firms. Yesterday, Wilmer released its projected salary structure for 2011. We’ll see if it’s a merit-based market leader…

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Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg are examples of female lawyers who have it all: success in both their personal and professional lives. They both reached the pinnacle of the legal profession — a seat on the Supreme Court — but also raised families, blessing the world with judicial opinions galore, children, and grandchildren. They had time for dicta and… Well, you get the picture.

What about the most recent two females anointed with the holy SCOTUS water: Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor? They both have incredible résumés, which helped get them to One First Street, but neither one had a family to move down to D.C. with them.

On the other hand, the most recent male nominees to the Court, John Roberts and Samuel Alito, are both married with children. They did not have to sacrifice family for profession. (Of course, that’s assuming you see “no children or significant other” as a “sacrifice.”)

Some studies have shown marriage is advantageous for men, but disadvantageous for women. Single women often make more than single men. An old article from Forbes points out:

Without husbands, women have to focus on earning more. They work longer hours, they’re willing to relocate and they’re more likely to choose higher-paying fields like technology. Without children, men have more liberty to earn less–that is, they are free to pursue more fulfilling and less lucrative careers, like writing or art or teaching social studies.

Andrews Kurth partner Kathleen Wu recently offered career advice in the Texas Lawyer. As Ashby Jones points out at the WSJ Law Blog, the most valuable piece is to “get real about balance.” Wu wrote:

It is next to impossible to balance a full-time legal career with marriage, children and regular trips to the gym. It’s no coincidence that the two women most recently nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court — now-Justice Sonia Sotomayor and nominee/U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan — are unmarried and childless.

Can women not have it all? Elie — married and male — and Kash — single and female — opine and offer a poll, after the jump.

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The modern workplace plays host to three generations: the baby boomers, Generation X, and Generation Y. A panel at the InsideCounsel SuperConference this week called the youngest of the bunch, Gen-Why?. The italics are likely meant to indicate a whiny tone, because this bunch, born from 1981 to 2001, are supposedly entitled and snotty. E.g., “You’re going to defer me for a year with a $60,000 stipend? Wah! I hate you!”

I attended the panel as did another legal blogger, Adrian Dayton. Check out his post on what’s wrong with Gen-Y. Despite their complaints about the young’uns, oldies tend to give in to their wishes, judging from the response one general counsel gave to a Gen-Yer who asked to head off to New Zealand for a year and have his job held until he got back.

A not-especially-snotty-or-entitled Gen-Yer was chosen for the panel: Jack Rossi, staff counsel at JetBlue, who scored an in-house offer directly out of law school. He admitted that some of the myths about his generation are true: he does like feedback and wants mentorship (and he’s gotten it in-house). An older baby boomer lawyer in the audience spoke up to say, “I wanted the same things as Jack, but I was not brave enough to ask for it… It was kind of ‘figure out for yourself.’ I think the fact that younger lawyers ask is actually a good thing.”

Honestly, there wasn’t a lot of tension in the room between Gen Y and Boomers, even when J.D. turned PhD panelist, Arin Reeves of The Athens Group, suggested Boomers were at fault for spoiling young folks given the wining-and-dining summer associate experience they created. “If you want to teach that work is the priority, take the events away,” said Reeves.

I think all of our Biglaw readers will agree with us in deeming that terrible advice.

In the room, greater tension seemed to exist between Gen X and Gen Y. “It sounds like we’re saying, ‘How are we going to accommodate an already spoiled generation?’” observed one Gen Xer.

Since I am Gen Y, and Elie is Gen X, we thought this would be an opportune time for a little ATL debate. I’ll let the old man go first…

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It’s May. Soon it will be June. The class of 2010 is about to graduate. And sure, everything will suck for them, but let’s give them their due:

Ahh, that’s the good stuff.

But sometime after that song is played, and before the students become acquainted with the nutritional properties of mayonnaise sandwiches, somebody will try to stand up and put their aborted legal careers in some sort of context.

Who will be doing the commencement address at your law school this year? More importantly, are any of the speakers hiring?

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Is there a Tiger Woods at your firm?

Tiger Woods is back on the green stroking it into the hole, his face no longer in the rough, for the first day of the Masters.

Beyond a flyover involving a terrible pun and controversy over Nike’s resurrection of Woods’ dead father’s voice, the first day was a smooth one. Tiger the Superstar is back.

Last weekend, Jonah Lehrer wrote a piece for the Wall Street Journal about “The Superstar Effect,” suggesting that Tiger will make other golfers play worse just by showing up:

According to a paper by Jennifer Brown, an applied macroeconomist at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, Mr. Woods is such a dominating golfer that his presence in a tournament can make everyone else play significantly worse. Because his competitors expect him to win, they end up losing; success becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Ms. Brown argues that the superstar effect is not just relevant on the golf course. Instead, she suggests that the presence of superstars can be “de-motivating” in a wide variety of competitions, from the sales office to the law firm.

Brown analyzed PGA Tour data from 1999 through 2006, and discovered that Woods’s presence in a tournament resulted in other golfers taking more strokes. Brown suggests that in situations where success is based on relative performance, a known superstar causes everyone else to give up and step down their game.

We thought that superstars made mediocre associates swing with malice aforethought. But Brown suggests that the “up and out model” at law firms results in great performance from the Tigers bound for partnership, and halfhearted efforts by the rest of the associates who know they’re on their way out…

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The final match of our March Madness was not quite as thrilling as the Duke-Butler game. DC pulled away from San Francisco at the very beginning, when voting started on Monday afternoon. We were amused to see that lawyers in SoCal contributed to DC’s early momentum (pictured at right).

DC finished strong, defeating San Fran 61-39. So now it’s official: Congratulations, Washingtonians. You are in the best place in America to be a lawyer. Go to One First Street and do a victory lap around the Supreme Court.

This was how D.C. made it to the top. It wasn’t an easy path, though D.C. made it look like it was:

Here at ATL headquarters, Elie, Lat, Kash, and David Minkin (our publisher, of ATL litigation fame) filled out brackets, with a $40 pool. Curious who won?

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* So how did Judge of the Day Shirley Strickland Saffold get outed anyway? Well, it started with some hurtful anonymous comments. [On the Media]

* Wait a minute, you’re saying that playing football could cause head injuries that lead to dementia? But the game looks so peaceful. Why weren’t we informed of this? [WSJ Law Blog]

* Why would you pay extra money in rent for a man to hold the door open and spy on you every time you enter or exit your building? [True/Slant]

* Virginia declares April to be “Confederate History Month.” That’s a great thing. It’s about time Virginians learned that they actually lost the Civil War. [Huffington Post]

* Let’s say you aced the job interview. What’s the best way to follow up? [Law.com]

* The Brennan Center for Justice has a very good legal book review website going. Hey, it’s not like the Times Book Review has the space to give these books the coverage they deserve. [Brennan Center for Justice: Just Books]

* Lat, Elie, and Kash want to drink with you. Don’t forget to sign up for our summer kick-off party. [Above the Law]

It’s the finals in our March Madness. No underdogs made it. In our contest, Cinderallas were sent home from the ball with a glass of shut-the-hell-up:

It’s the nation’s capital vs. the West Coast’s finest. Vote after the jump.

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After two weeks of urban analysis, voting, and ample trash-talking, we have finally arrived at the ATL March Madness Final Four. Giants have fallen along the way.

New York was cut down by Washington, D.C. Dallas did away with two Southern belles. San Francisco proved its supremacy over the other cities of the West Coast. Chicago had the easiest path to the finals — the Midwest is the weakest conference.

Here is how these four cities made it to the Big Dance:

Chicago, D.C., Dallas and San Francisco duke it out, and we provide commentary, after the jump.

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A tipster reports that USC’s Gould School of Law has a new proactive solution to student debt: death or permanent and total disability.

That’s right, USC kids. If you can’t get a job coming out of the Gould School of Law, you could always just die. Perhaps not the J.D. you had in mind when you enrolled there.

But “Just Dying” is only one possible solution for your financial problems. USC has some other advice for those not planning on biting it after graduation…

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