Biglaw

O'Melveny Myers LLP logo Above the Law blog.jpgEarlier this month, we passed along a rumor that O’Melveny & Myers was conducting a “witch hunt” for ATL tipsters and commenters. For the record, OMM has denied the rumor (not to us, but at internal meetings).
Back in our prior post, we tossed out this hypothetical:

You’re a lawyer at a major law firm. You provide negative information about your employer to ATL and/or post a comment on ATL (or a similar message board), complaining about the terms and conditions of your employment (e.g., salaries, bonuses, fringe benefits). Your employer finds out what you did, and promptly fires you.

You’re a lawyer — a well-educated, highly-paid professional ($160K+). You are not a member of a union; your office doesn’t have one.

You want to sue your former firm for firing you. Do you have any claim that your conduct was collective activity protected under the NLRA? Might you have any other cause of action, under federal or state law?

We concluded: “Maybe our friends at Workplace Prof Blog can enlighten us?”
And enlighten us they have. One of the blog’s editors, Professor Paul Secunda, kindly sent us a wonderfully detailed analysis. After all the conflicting opinions in the hundreds of comments to our post, it was nice to receive some clarity.
Read Professor Secunda’s response, the model answer to our law school exam hypothetical, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The O’Melveny & Myers ‘Witch Hunt’: Some Answers from an Employment Law Professor”

Palau American Samoa Above the Law blog.jpgSome people clerk for the experience. And some people clerk for the experience. From an interesting article entitled “Clerks in Paradise,” which appeared in last month’s American Lawyer:

[Some go clerk for feeder judges, and some go clerk for] courts in the Northern Mariana Islands, the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia and other tropical locales in the Pacific Ocean. These former United Nations trust territories have legal systems similar to those of the United States, and appeals from their courts traditionally lie with U.S. courts. Many of these territories invite American law graduates to spend a year or two working in their courts as clerks and counsel.

The pull of the Pacific can be powerful.

When Timothy Schimpf accepted a position as court counsel in Palau, a nation of more than 300 islands that became independent in 1994, he turned down a permanent job as a trademark attorney with the federal government. “It’s absolutely worth it to take a chance and go do something outlandish,” he says.

The $40,000 salary he earned in Palau wouldn’t go far in America, but life in the Pacific Islands had its perks. From Schimpf’s government-provided beachfront housing, after-work swims and kayak sessions were easy.

Sounds like a pretty sweet gig. Read more — about clerking in paradise, and about the current job market for law clerks applying to large law firms — after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Clerks in Paradise? Maybe Not When It Comes To Hiring”

It’s Friday afternoon, and things are kinda slow. So please forgive the randomness.

Remember Kirkland & Ellis’s big gay party from last month, featuring cocktails and hors d’ouevres, but open only to LGBT lawyers? A source at our former firm writes:

Hors d’ouevres? That’s nothing! At Wachtell Lipton, the gay partners (and whatever associates/summers are out and proud) go to a verrry nice dinner every year. Last year it was at Per Se.

Magnificent. We’ve been to Per Se — on our own dime, not Wachtell’s — and it lives up to the hype.

So if you’re summering at WLRK, say that you’re gay (whether you are or not). You can always “change your mind” when you return to school in the fall; sexuality is fluid. And Per Se’s salmon tartare cornets are to die for!

Earlier: Kirkland & Ellis’s Big Gay Party: Discriminatory?

associate bonus watch 2007 law firm Above the Law blog.jpgWe previously reported on bonuses in the New York office of Winston & Strawn. Now it’s Washington’s turn:

Winston & Strawn’s DC associates recently received their bonuses. Associates received individualized bonus memos, so there is nothing that can be posted (this has been firm policy for years).

Bonuses were up significantly over previous years, and every associate seemed to be very happy with what they received. The general feeling is that the firm stepped up to the plate and is committed to paying market bonuses.

We do have one data point to pass along. One source (whose class year we won’t reveal) received a bonus that was higher than the NYC market year-end bonus, but lower than the NYC market-plus-special bonus, for someone of their seniority. Pretty good (although this person did bill north of 2400 hours).
Speaking of Winston & Strawn in D.C., we hear that a very interesting meeting took place on Monday morning, concerning controversial remarks made by managing partner Tom Mills to the Wall Street Journal. We’re working on a post. If you can enlighten us about what transpired, please drop us a line. Thanks.

associate bonus watch 2007 law firm Above the Law blog.jpgHow can law firm administrators get associates to enter their time on time? Here’s one idea: link time entry to those beloved bonuses.
From a source at Dechert:

Attached is an email that all the attorneys at Dechert LLP received today regarding associate bonuses and potential penalties. According to the policy outlined below, an associate’s bonus may be reduced by up to 10% due to the late submission of billable time over the past year. I thought this might be of some interest to your readers.

We agree. Might this become a Biglaw trend? Nagging emails about timely time entry are easily ignored. Slashing bonuses, on the other hand, tends to grab associates’ attention.
In fairness to the firm, it’s worth noting that the policy is not super-draconian. Most of the bonus reductions were under 5 percent, and delinquent associates have the opportunity to redeem themselves: “[E]very associate whose 2007 bonus is reduced will have the opportunity to earn the amount of bonus reduction back, if he or she remains in good standing and complies fully with our time-recording policy in 2008.”
Check out the full memo, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: Dechert Docks Associates for Dilatory Billables”

associate bonus watch 2007 law firm Above the Law blog.jpgA number of you have requested, in comments and via email, a post to talk about compensation issues at Jones Day. So here you go.
We’ll kick off the discussion with this message we received:

I have recently noticed a number of postings relating to Jones Day D.C.’s lack of a bonus and non-competitive / non-transparent salary scale. For what it’s worth, a friend of mine left Jones Day as a third year associate. Compensation as a third year: $175k. My friend knew of others that were in the third year class making $175k; however, my friend knew of a few other associates making $170k, and even one third year associate that was making $160k. This was AFTER Jones Day D.C. made the move to $160k.

Talk about compression, $5k between a first year and third year. Maybe some of these Jones Day posters do have something to gripe about?

We don’t really know, due to Jones Day’s overall lack of transparency when it comes to associate compensation (beyond the first year). But let’s try and find out what the deal is. If you have associate compensation information about Jones Day, including but not limited to the Washington D.C. office, please share what you know in the comments, or email us. Thanks.

Here’s an open thread request we’ve received from multiple sources. A representative message:

I’m trying to gather more info about firms / offices that pay NYC salary + NYC bonus in secondary markets. For example, I believe that Weil and Skadden both do in Dallas and Houston, but none of the other firms in Texas do. I don’t know if you’ve done a post about this before, but I think it might be interesting, because $205K goes really far in TX.

Skadden Wilmington is another possible example.

That’s correct about Skadden in Wilmington. Another well-paying secondary market: Charlotte. A CLT tipster tells us: “Mayer Brown, Dechert, Dewey, and Cadwalader have all increased salaries to $160K here in Charlotte.”
Hold on a sec — Cadwalader? Didn’t they just lay off 35 lawyers, including some in Charlotte?
Yes, they did — but they also raised salaries for the survivors. More after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Diamonds in the Rough: Open Thread on Offices in Secondary Markets That Pay the Full $160K Scale
(And a digression on Cadwalader in Charlotte)”

Hillary Clinton Hillary Rodham Clinton banner Above the Law blog.jpgAn article for the McClatchy newspapers, evaluating the truth of Senator Hillary Clinton’s claim of “35 years of change,” has some interesting background about her legal career at the Rose Law Firm in Arkansas.
It does suggest, for those of you interested in political careers, that you might not want to cool your heels too long in Biglaw. It just doesn’t lend itself well to rosy campaign-trail bios. If you do spend a lot of time at a firm, be sure to engage in lots of pro bono work. From the article:

Clinton spent the bulk of her career — 15 of those 35 years — at one of Arkansas’ most prestigious corporate law firms, where she represented big companies and served on corporate boards.

Neither she nor her surrogates, however, ever mention that on the campaign trail. Her campaign Web site biography devotes six paragraphs to her pro bono legal work for the poor but sums up the bulk of her experience in one sentence: “She also continued her legal career as a partner in a law firm.”

Here’s what we found most interesting:

Clinton did receive a smaller salary than most other Rose partners, topping out at about $200,000, in part because of her outside activities, according to several biographies.

So don’t count Hillary Clinton among the ranks of seven-figure law firm partners. She’s closer to an underpaid junior partner than a partner at Wachtell or Cravath.
But don’t shed tears for HRC either. If you look at her partner pay in the context of Arkansas’s legal market and low cost of living, and if you adjust it for the passage of time (Sen. Clinton practiced law many years ago), $200K looks better and better.
Clinton’s ’35 years of change’ omits most of her career [McClatchy]

Your reading of gossip blogs — well, at least those relating to your profession (so Perez Hilton probably doesn’t count, unless you’re in showbiz) — has just been blessed. From an article entitled “Gossip Is Information By Another Name,” in the New York Times:

Q. The office sometimes feels like one big water cooler, with colleagues gossiping about one another and about management. It’s hard to resist joining in, but it feels subversive to spread information this way. Is it?

A. Not necessarily. Most gossip is just communication, a way that people form networks of trusting relationships.

The word “gossip” has a negative connotation, but you could also call it strategic information sharing, counseling or mentoring, said Michael Morris, a research psychologist and professor of organizational behavior at Columbia Business School who studies social cognition.

So feel free to bill your reading of ATL to “professional development,” “office admin,” or something similar. If you get asked about it, say you were gathering and sharing “strategic information,” or “mentoring” younger lawyers.

As long as the information you’re spreading is not intended to hurt another person, it can actually be good for the company. Especially during times of major change, like downsizing or layoffs, gossip can be cathartic for employees, Professor Morris said.

See, e.g., Friday’s O’Melveny & Myers thread (250+ comments).
A little more discussion, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Move Over, Greed; Gossip Is Good Too”

O'Melveny Myers LLP logo Above the Law blog.jpgWe respectfully submit that the powers-that-be at O’Melveny & Myers need to “chill” (as Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) recently told former President Bill Clinton).
The folks at OMM apparently have some totalitarian tendencies. We heard they no-offered a summer associate from last year based on this individual’s personal blogging about the summer associate experience (which didn’t even mention the firm by name). And now we hear this rumor (by phone and by email, from multiple sources):

[T]he firm is furious about (true) comments sent to ATL about the firm’s poor performance and underhanded layoffs. Apparently, the fire rages so much so that OMM is dead set on a witch hunt to find the associate(s) who leaked the goings on to ATL.

Both the firm’s tech department and outside techies have been enlisted to figure out which associate’s computer the comments were sent from. OMM associates are now scared to even check your site while at work (though of course are keeping in the loop through home computers).

We contacted the firm for comment. We haven’t heard back from them as of the time of this posting.
We know next to nothing about labor and employment law. But to the labor lawyers among you, here’s a hypothetical:

You’re a lawyer at a major law firm. You provide negative information about your employer to ATL and/or post a comment on ATL (or a similar message board), complaining about the terms and conditions of your employment (e.g., salaries, bonuses, fringe benefits). Your employer finds out what you did, and promptly fires you.

You’re a lawyer — a well-educated, highly-paid professional ($160K+). You are not a member of a union; your office doesn’t have one.

You want to sue your former firm for firing you. Do you have any claim that your conduct was collective activity protected under the NLRA? Might you have any other cause of action, under federal or state law?

Maybe our friends at Workplace Prof Blog can enlighten us. Or if you’re a labor and employment lawyer, feel free to opine in the comments.
P.S. We’re experiencing mysterious technical difficulties this afternoon, so this may be our last post in a while. Maybe OMM is hacking ATL?
Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of O’Melveny & Myers (scroll down)

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