Biglaw

Ed. note: Have a question for next week? Send it in to advice@abovethelaw.com.

Dear Above the Law,

I’d like your insight on a recurring event at my firm. It seems that several partners love to hit the “reply all” button in response to mass emails.

Here’s an example:

Email: Is anyone familiar with an attorney named John Doe? If so, can you contact me?

Partner Response (to entire firm):  “Yes, I’ve worked with Doe on several occasions on substantial, important matters.”

Is it a requirement that partners send such emails to prove that they are relevant?

— Reply One

Dear Reply One,

Unimaginative associates daydream about becoming partner one day because they think it’s all ski chalets, steak dinners and upscale hookers. To be sure, it is all these great things, but the downsides to being a partner far outweigh any of the perks….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Pls Hndle Thx: It’s A Partner’s Life”

Now that we have kicked off the 2010 Summer Associate Satisfaction Survey, we wanted to share with you some of the highlights from the reports on the 2009 firm summer programs. If you are a current summer associateclick here to take our short survey about your experiences this summer at your firm.

  • The summer associate program at this Silicon Valley firm begins with a kickoff weekend at the Seascape Resort in Aptos, California, where, in addition to social events, the firm holds trainings and various practice group workshops.
  • This Washington, D.C.-based firm offers summer associates the chance to participate in its Public Interest Fellowship program, and split their time between the firm and local public service organizations for five weeks at full salary.
  • Summer associates at this Philadelphia-based firm, which recently opened a Moscow office, are paired not only with a partner and associate guide, but also a writing mentor.
  • All 14 of this "global" firm’s domestic offices have summer associate programs, and summer associate positions are also available in locations outside the U.S.

Additional summer program highlights, which might give you some good ideas to use at your firm, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Career Center: A Report on 2009 Summer Programs”

When it comes to law school, “Hope springs eternal.” According to a National Law Journal article entitled Hope Drives Rise in Law School Applications, for this year’s incoming class, law school applications increased by 7% and the number of applicants by 3% — despite tough times in the legal profession and the heavy educational debt that law school often entails. Some law schools saw their applicant pools grow by 30 percent or more. See, e.g., the University of Alabama (70 percent), the University of Maine (65 percent), Cornell (50 percent), and the University of Illinois (37 percent).

Regular readers of Above the Law are no doubt familiar with the argument against going to law school. It’s fairly straightforward: given the weak legal job market and the high cost of law school, which often requires students to take on six figures’ worth of debt, getting a J.D. degree is simply a bad investment.

The argument against law school is typically made in these pages by one of my colleagues, Elie Mystal. But not all of your ATL editors are so anti-law-school. Speaking for myself, I think the case against law school is often exaggerated.

Here are five arguments in defense of going to law school — or, at the very least, five arguments against an extreme anti-law-school stance….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “In Defense of Going to Law School”


We are updating the Career Center and want to know what you think of your summer program.  Are the attorneys at your firm screamers or camp counselors? Are you eating at 5-star restaurants, or splitting meals from the Dollar Menu at McDonalds? Are you working on the next mega-merger, or picking up a partner’s dry cleaning?

Let us know about your firm and its summer associate program by taking the short but substantive Lateral Link Summer Associate Survey. The survey should only take you five minutes and is completely anonymous. Gloat about your experiences or warn law students about the real summer associate life. Your responses will give future summer associates the "I-wish-I-knew-those-answers-before-I-joined" information about the firm that isn’t on the recruiting brochures.

Click here to start the survey.

After you complete the survey, feel free to visit the Career Center and review what the current associates at the nation’s top firms think about their experience.

A couple of days ago, a survey came out showing that the wage gap between male and female partners is still very large. The National Law Journal put it this way:

It’s no secret that women earn less than their male colleagues at law firms. The National Association of Women Lawyers concluded last year that female equity partners make an average $66,000 less a year than male equivalents.

This news was met with a tremendous yawn.

Amazing. We’re living in a world where women who rise to the top of their profession still suffer a ridiculous income gap, and nobody seems to care very much. Even my ATL co-editor Kashmir Hill said: “Women get paid less than men. D’uh.” So much for righteous indignation. The suffragettes must be thrilled…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Wage Gap Persists Among Female Partners: Where’s the Outrage?”

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…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “WilmerHale Brings Clarity to Its Merit-Based Compensation Program”

The fabulous Elizabeth Wurtzel — the bestselling and critically acclaimed writer, who graduated from Yale Law School and is now a litigatrix at the powerhouse known as Boies Schiller — has a bone to pick with the bar exam. In a recent post on the blog of the Brennan Center — an organization that we won’t try to describe, since some of you objected vigorously to our last attempt — Wurtzel questions the value of the bar exam as a gatekeeping mechanism for lawyers. (Those of you frantically cramming for the test right now might agree with her.)

Wurtzel begins by noting how Kathleen Sullivan — the noted constitutional law scholar, former dean of Stanford Law School, and current name partner at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan — didn’t pass the California bar.

Wurtzel then argues….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Elizabeth Wurtzel: Not A Fan of the Bar Exam”

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?

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

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….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “This Week in Biglaw: 07.11.10″

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