Biglaw

Times are tough, but firms are still treating their summer associates to some fun, even if it’s cheaper fun than in years past. Last week, we brought you the finalists in our 2010 Summer Associates Event Contest. Some of them are not scrimping:

  • Quinn Emanuel: Firm-sponsored hiking trip up Mount St. Helens. (Bonus: If you make it back down the mountain, you get an offer.)
  • Paul Hastings: Dinner at a partner’s house in a posh neighborhood, with different street food trucks parked in the driveway, dispensing delicacies and blasting music. (Negative: Summer associates aren’t deemed respectable enough to be served dinner inside the house.)
  • Schulte Roth & Zabel: DJ School, where they teach you to mix and be a DJ. (Bonus: If you don’t get an offer, you can work house parties.)
  • Irell & Manella: Firm-sponsored weekend trip to Catalina Island off the southern California coast, including hotel rooms, food, drink, kayaking, biking, glass-bottom boat tours, zip-lining, mini golf, arcade tokens. (Bonus: Some summers scored an invite to a partner’s yacht that he keeps docked near Catalina. Potential Negative: Seeing colleagues in bathing suits.)
  • Davis Polk & Wardwell: Trapeze School and rock climbing. (Hidden agenda: The firm can make sure their prospective associates’ bodies are well-toned and live up to DPW’s hottie standards.)

One commenter suggested that SRZ had another musical event: a luxury suite at a Lady Gaga concert. But even if someone had submitted that event to the contest, it would have been hard to beat our winner.

Which firm had the best summer associate event of 2010?

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If you’re a gay employee and have a domestic partner who receives health benefits through your employer, you have to pay more in federal income tax — about $1,000 a year, on average. This is because federal law, thanks to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), doesn’t recognize same-sex marriages. As a result, the feds treat employer-provided health benefits for domestic partners as a form of taxable income (if the partner is not considered a dependent).

(Note, however, that this could change. A federal judge in Boston recently struck down part of DOMA. Stay tuned to find out what happens on appeal.)

Earlier this month, we wrote about a perk that Google extends to its gay employees who find themselves in this situation. As reported by the New York Times, Google “essentially [covers] those costs, putting same-sex couples on an even footing with heterosexual employees whose spouses and families receive health benefits.” Google makes an extra payment to gay employees to make up for the increased tax burden — a perk that we dubbed “Google’s gay gross-up.”

We asked you, our readers, if any legal employers also offer this benefit. As it turns out, several do.

Find out which employers provide this perk — and vote in a poll on its fairness, which was hotly debated in the comments to our prior post — after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Biglaw Perk Watch: A Follow-Up on Google’s Gay Gross-Up”

Ed. note: Law Shucks focuses on life in, and after, BigLaw, including by tracking layoffs, bonuses, and laterals. Above the Law is pleased to bring you this weekly column, which analyzes news at the world’s top law firms.

One other note: Law Shucks is changing server hosts this weekend. Please forgive any intermittent downtime.

Private equity is one of the largest benefactors of BigLaw.

PE firms are massive consumers of all sorts of legal work, from fund formation, to investment transactions, to exits. Investment banks – and perhaps government (see, e.g., Davis Polk, Cleary Gottlieb, and Simpson Thacher slurping from the TARP firehose), thanks to recent events that have pumped that above traditional norms – are probably the only providers of more billable hours.

Even corporate clients that do a quarter-trillion dollars worth of deals with one lawyer can’t compete with the soup-to-nuts appetite of private equity.

In honor of all the billable hours they and their portfolio companies have generated, this week is All Private Equity….

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Cornell Law School recently circulated to its students in the class of 2012 — i.e., rising 2Ls –a list of class of 2010 and 2011 members who landed jobs through the fall recruiting process. Most of these positions, not surprisingly, are at large law firms (aka “Biglaw”). The class of 2010 graduates will presumably be working for their firms in a few months (or in a year or so, if they’ve been deferred); the class of 2011 students are presumably summer associates at their firms right now.

Many law schools circulate such lists to their students. This gives rising 2Ls an opportunity to connect with graduates or fellow students and maybe learn a little bit more about law firms before fall recruiting really heats up.

The Cornell Law employment lists offer an interesting snapshot of the employment prospects for students and graduates of a top law school. The lists provide the name of the graduate or student, their law firm employer, the city they’ll be working in, and the graduate or student’s email address. We have reprinted the lists, but with names and email addresses redacted, after the jump.

Should Cornell Law students be pleased or pissed off by their school’s track record at Biglaw placement? We hear from one CLS student and then debate the question, also after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Biglaw Employment Prospects for Graduates of Top Law Schools: A Cornell Case Study (and a Debate)”

This summer is not as thrilling for law students as summers past. Firms have tightened their belts, and the law students lucky enough to snag one of the few summer associate positions out there are not getting the royal treatment. Or they are, but now the royal treatment is defined as allowing summers to order anything they want off the McDonald’s Dollar Menu (“All the McChickens and baked apple pies you can eat, 3Ls! But get it to go. There’s work to be done.”).

The Philadelphia Inquirer laments the decline of the summer associate experience:

The programs themselves, with trips abroad and lavish entertaining, could seem more like summer enrichment for precocious college students than real employment. But as a general rule, that sort of treatment is a thing of the past.

More typical is the summer program at the Wilmington office of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom L.L.P., where Temple second-year Nick Mozal is spending his summer in corporate law. Mozal said there has been some entertaining, but the big event so far has been a night at a Phillies game.

Well, it is Wilmington. Are there better options than that?

But even in much more glamorous Philadelphia, the summer experience is lackluster:

James Lawlor, a Reed Smith partner who recruits and hires summer associates, said the firm has been doing less entertaining of summer associates, and when it does, it is more likely to schedule events at the firm’s Center City offices rather than at costly restaurants.

“We took away some of the bells and whistles,” Lawlor said.

Not all firms have silenced their bells and thrown out their whistles, though. After the jump, check out this year’s contenders for best summer associate event. And vote for the firm that should take home the shorter and smaller prize…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “ATL Summer Associate Event Contest: The Finalists”

Welcome to the next in our series on the results of the 2010 ATL/Career Center Associate Satisfaction survey. We’ve used the survey results to revamp the Career Center, powered by Lateral Link, with completely updated profiles. Each week, we are highlighting insider information that Members shared about their firms in the eight key areas of associate satisfaction covered by the Career Center.

Today, we look at how your firm and others measure up in one very important aspect: Billable Hours.

  • This Texas-based firm, with one of the world’s leading energy practices, does not have a billable hours requirement, although bonus amounts are contingent upon meeting certain hours thresholds.
  • While this "top-notch" New York-based firm has no official billable hours requirement, Lateral Link Members report that the unofficial expectation is between 2,100 and 2,400 hours. 
  • This California-based firm, which focuses on intellectual property, has an unusual billing system based on "billed, not billable, hours," and although the billable minimum is only 1,700 hours, hours "recorded but not billed out to the client are disregarded." 
  • First-year associates at this East Coast firm are required to bill 1,900 hours per year, while other associates are required to bill 1,950 hours, a requirement that Members concur is “attainable and reasonable.”

More highlights — check to see if your firm is featured — after the jump.

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Are Biglaw firms outsourcing legal work, or not? We don’t know, because apparently firms don’t want clients to know. The ABA Journal reports that most firms declined to even answer an outsourcing questionnaire:

About 83 percent of the 30 responding law firms declined to participate in the survey, according to Fronterion, the Chicago-based outsourcing consulting firm that conducted the study. Fronterion managing principal Michael Bell believes a majority of top law firms are using legal outsourcing providers, at least on an ad hoc basis, but they are reluctant to admit it because of the sensitivity of the issue.

Apparently all that criticism of the quality of international LPOs has made firms afraid to talk about outsourcing.

But since we’re dealing with top law firms, not talking =/= not doing…

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Christopher Boutlier, male model turned interior designer.

Over the long weekend, the Washington Post magazine treated us to a delicious inside look at the gorgeous home of Christopher Boutlier, an interior designer, and his partner, Aaron Flynn — a lawyer. Flynn practices environmental and administrative law in the D.C. office of Hunton & Williams.

Flynn may be a mere associate, but he lives like a partner: he resides in D.C.’s desirable Dupont Circle neighborhood, in an 1,110-square-foot condominium; he has an art collection; and he sleeps with a model. (The fine-featured Boutlier was a model before becoming an interior decorator.)

So just how fabulous is their apartment?

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It’s good to be gay at Google — or a “Gaygler,” as they call themselves. And not just because the company sometimes has a float in the San Francisco Pride parade.

The New York Times recently reported:

[Last] Thursday, Google [began] covering a cost that gay and lesbian employees must pay when their partners receive domestic partner health benefits, largely to compensate them for an extra tax that heterosexual married couples do not pay. The increase will be retroactive to the beginning of the year.

“It’s a fairly cutting edge thing to do,” said Todd A. Solomon, a partner in the employee benefits department of McDermott Will & Emery, a law firm in Chicago, and author of “Domestic Partner Benefits: An Employer’s Guide.”

Why do gay and lesbian employees pay more in taxes to begin with?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Biglaw Perk Watch: Google’s Gay Gross-Up”

Yes, you read that headline correctly. Out of nowhere, Cahill Gordon & Reindel has decided to give out a mid-year bonus. Not Cravath, not S&C, but Cahill Gordon. The same Cahill Gordon that is one of the few firms to have significant layoffs in 2010. This is the firm that could push the market towards mid-year bonuses?

Apparently so. A tipster reported the bonus scale to Above the Law. It’s not a huge amount of money, but it’s something….

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