Biglaw

associate bonus watch 2007 law firm Above the Law blog.jpgSorry, we were out drinking (more than we should). That’s why we didn’t immediately post the bonus memo for Sidley Austin (New York).
Now we’re back — and tipsy. Fortunately, posting a bonus memo is not like operating heavy machinery.
The email announcing New York bonuses was forwarded to Sidley associates outside of New York, with this intro:

For your information, please find the message below to New York associates announcing a special bonus being provided in New York. As noted, the special New York bonuses are in addition to year-end bonuses, which will be the subject of a Firm-wide announcement in the coming days and which we expect will generally follow the pattern of prior years. We appreciate and value the work of all our associates.

But the work of non-NYC associates, not so much. Not surprisingly, Sidley associates outside of New York are not happy campers:

“Chicago morale should be wonderful after this…”

“Management committee forwarded the email to all other offices — how considerate.”

“Note that the Management Committee sent the bonus memo to the NY office only, and it took them an hour before they realized they’d better circulate it to all associates (so we don’t learn about it from you first). There’s going to be significant grumbling in DC, Chicago and LA about the yawning chasm between the bonuses we’ll likely get compared to the apparent total bonuses in NY.”

For the curious among you, the full Sidley Austin memo appears after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: Sidley Austin (New York only)”

paralegal Biglaw Big Law firm paralegals Above the Law blog.jpgHere is today’s law firm perk post. From a devoted ATL reader:

Here’s an idea for perkwatch: paralegals. As I’m sure most people can attest to, a good stable of paralegals can be invaluable in systematizing some of the more mundane routine tasks.

One of my old firms had a majority of snippy, incompetent paralegals in Corporate, which often led to first years needing to, for instance, directly call to order good standing certificates. A good paralegal is certainly a “perk” in my mind.

Indeed. Especially when you get to make out with them at the firm holiday party!
Please discuss your paralegal experiences, good and bad, in the comments. Thanks.
P.S. A shout-out to the paralegals at our former firm, who are widely regarded as some of the best paralegals anywhere. You get what you pay for, and Wachtell Lipton pays its paralegals very well.
(Also, they’re really good at Scrabulous.)

associate bonus watch 2007 law firm Above the Law blog.jpgWhere have all the bonus announcements gone? Have firms stopped issuing them? Or have you stopped sending them to us? For information about the many ways you can submit bonus memos to us, see here.
In the meantime, we bring you another bonus non-announcement, similar to those previously issued by Kirkland & Ellis and McDermott Will & Emery. This one is from Morgan, Lewis & Bockius.
Check it out, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: Morgan Lewis’s Non-Announcement”

McKee Nelson LLP AboveTheLaw Above the Law blog.jpgWe previously commended the firm of McKee Nelson for the steps it’s taking to accommodate its associates in the wake of the credit crunch. Credit market woes have significantly affected the firm’s once booming capital markets practice, but the firm is bending over backwards not to do layoffs.
So far backwards, in fact, that we’re going to go even farther: we wish we worked at MN. To paraphrase Crazy Eddie, the offers they’re making to associates are INSANE.
On Friday, the firm offered these options to its associates:

(1) a full bonus, and four months’ pay, to anyone willing to depart from the firm; or

(2) the option to take a year-long sabbatical, at 40 percent pay, AND with a full bonus for 2007.

Wow. How is option (2) — or even option (1), for people who wanted to change jobs or career paths anyway — not the sweetest deal ever? You get a year off from the Biglaw grind, at 40 percent of your pay (McKee is on the $160K scale), AND with a year-end bonus? (Their bonus table appears here — the firm is paying standard year-end bonuses, although not “special” bonuses.)
There are some caveats, according to our tipsters. First, there’s no guarantee of a job at the end of the sabbatical — whether you can return to the firm will depend on what the business climate looks like in a year. Second, you’re supposed to do something public-interest-oriented during that year — or, as the managing partner put it, “something that makes the world better.” So you can’t just go to Ibiza and party for twelve months (although cynics claim that turning lawyers into layabouts “makes the world better”).
On the other hand, there’s no requirement that you work for a 501(c)(3) during your sabbatical; the concept has some flexibility. Could you perhaps use the year — and the money — to study painting, or to finish the novel you started writing back in law school?
So many lawyers talk about the dreams that died when they went to law school. How is the McKee Nelson sabbatical program not a great opportunity to resurrect those dreams, with the luxury of free time and financial security?
Earlier: Nationwide Personnel Reconfiguration Watch: McKee Nelson

100 dollar bill Above the Law Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPGHere’s an interesting (and potentially lucrative) Biglaw benefit, which was recently brought to our attention:

How about a Biglaw perk watch thread on associate client fees? For example, at Kramer Levin, if an associate brings a new client to the firm, he or she gets 7 percent of all fees collected from that client.

The rule applies even if the associate isn’t involved in the matter. So, for example, a litigator who brings in a corporate client would still get the percentage.

We have heard of such arrangements, although we think they tend to be more common among midsize and smaller firms, as opposed to the biggest of Biglaw shops. But even if you don’t share in the fees, it obviously helps your partnership chances if you have the power to bring in a major client (e.g., because your mom is the CEO or GC of a Fortune 500 company).
If you have thoughts or information to share, please do so in the comments. Thanks.

associate bonus watch 2007 law firm Above the Law blog.jpgWho says the associate bonus news has dried up? Check out the latest announcement to make its way to our inbox:

LAW OFFICES OF DAVID C. MCGRAIL
676A Ninth Avenue #211, New York, NY 10036
Ph: (646) 290-6496 Fax: (646) 224-8377

MEMORANDUM TO ALL U.S. ATTORNEYS

November 8, 2007

We are delighted to announce that the Firm will pay special bonuses to all U.S. attorneys, in the amounts set forth below.

Class of 2000: $60,003

The special bonuses will supplement the Firm’s normal year-end U.S. bonuses. In lieu of special and year-end bonuses, U.S. attorneys may opt for a 100% equity stake in the Firm.

It is our pleasure to work with such an extraordinarily talented, quick-witted, well-read, handsome, modest group of lawyers. Thanks to your hard work, 2007 has been the Firm’s best year ever. While our securitization, antitrust, environmental, mass tort, tax, trust and estates, and patent litigation practices remain nonexistent, our bankruptcy/restructuring and general corporate practices have flourished. Profits are up infinity percent from 2006. We look forward to seeing you all and celebrating this year’s successes at the holiday party at “Go Sushi” on 51st and 9th.

The Firm urges you not to circulate this memo to muckraking legal tabloids such as Above the Law. We recognize that our special bonuses exceed those offered by Cravath and others, and we don’t want to hurt their feelings.

Law Offices of David McGrail [official website]

party parties party planning Above the Law blog.jpgPaging laid-off (or about-to-be-laid-off) associates: Looking for a new career? If you’re culturally literate, possessed of good taste, and great at slaving away for law-firm partners — which, given your job experience, you probably are — think about becoming a “personal manager.”
From the New York Times:

Looking for someone to curate your life? Need a personal concierge whose expertise is not picking up dry-cleaning but helping chose your wardrobe, your tastes, your friends?

[Allison] Storr calls herself a personal manager, but her duties go far beyond that. Her clients, all of them men, pay monthly fees of $4,000 to $10,000 to have her be their personal decider in nearly all things lifestyle-related.

And there’s a fun Biglaw blind item in the article:

A partner in a New York law firm, who agreed to be interviewed if he was not named to protect his privacy, said he has employed Ms. Storr for two and a half years. Last summer, Ms. Storr organized an ’80s theme party at the lawyer’s house in the Hamptons for about 200 of his friends, with a $5,000 budget. “It was honestly one of the most fun parties out there,” the lawyer said. “By now all my friends know that Allison works for me.”

He calls her an outsourced wife. “The nice thing is that when I ask her to do something, she gets it done and there’s no negative feelings.”

Putting together a summer party for 200, on a budget of just $5,000, is an impressive feat. Shouldn’t a Biglaw partner cough up at least five figures for a fabulous fete?
Need a Life? She’ll Arrange One [New York Times]

Aaron Charney solo firm headshot Aaron B Charney Aaron Brett Charney Above the Law ATL.JPGSo just how large was the settlement in Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell? Professor Scott Moss argued it was probably modest, while Professor Art Leonard believed it to be more substantial.
Here’s some evidence in favor of a larger settlement:

On Saturday at around 5 p.m., I spotted Aaron Charney in a cafe, in the bucolic town of Cold Spring, New York. I would have gone up and talked to him, but I realized who he was too late.

He was dressed in preppy fall wear, very J. Crew, with a wool hat. He was with two friends, and he was joking with them. He looked happy.

Well, how happy? Was it a $500,000 kind of happy, or a $2 million kind of happy?
Earlier: Just How Far Did S&C ‘Bend Over’ for Aaron Charney?

associate bonus watch 2007 law firm Above the Law blog.jpgA day without bonus announcements is like a day without sunshine. And for a while it looked like today was going to be one dark day — perhaps fitting, given the stock market tumble.
But Kramer Levin has come to the rescue. Check out their bonus memo, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: Kramer Levin Announces
(Bonuses Subject to ‘Merit’ and Hours Threshold)”

document review Above the Law blog.jpgThat’s the question that Arin Greenwood — who previously brought us this great article, as you may recall — tackles in a long but interesting piece for the Washington City Paper, entitled Attorney at Blah. Greenwood writes:

For more and more law school graduates, this is the legal life: On a given day, they may plow through a few hundred documents—e-mails, PowerPoint presentations, memos, and anything else on a hard drive. Each document appears on their computer screen. They read it, then click one of the buttons on the screen that says “relevant” or “not relevant,” and then they look at the next document.

This isn’t anyone’s dream job, but more and more lawyers in big cities around the country are finding that seven years of higher education, crushing student loans, and an unfriendly job market have brought them to windowless rooms around the city, where they do well-paid work that sometimes seems to require no more than a law degree, the use of a single index finger, and the ability to sit still for 15 hours a day. Is this being a lawyer? It is now.

The best stuff is at the beginning, in which Greenwood paints a vivid (and hilarious) picture of a temp attorney’s daily grind of document review. The end of the piece, a description of the grim realities of the legal job market for most law school graduates, might be interesting to lay readers, but it will be all too familiar to anyone who’s heard of Loyola 2L.

Check out the full piece by clicking here.

Attorney at Blah [Washington City Paper]

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