Biglaw

We have received over 1,300 responses to our ATL / Lateral Link survey on bonuses (accessible here). So far, we’ve told you about New York, Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles (take the survey on that page to see the results), and San Francisco / Silicon Valley.
Today’s new results are from Boston. Because a number of Boston firms had yet to announce their bonuses at the time of the survey (ahem, Goodwin?), the sample size for Boston, like its pizza and bagels, was not quite on par with New York’s. The salaries and bonuses reported, however, are generally in line with the other cities we’ve posted.
The breakdowns of bonus and base compensation, after the jump.

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associate bonus watch 2007 law firm Above the Law blog.jpgThe holiday season is pretty much over, and bonus season kinda is, too. But it’s not completely over, so we’ll still bring you occasional updates on news that comes across our desk. If you have information to share, please email us (subject line: “Associate Bonus Watch”).
While placing info in the comments is helpful, comments aren’t subject to verification and follow-up in the same way as emails. Also, due to sheer volume, we can’t (and don’t) read every last comment. So email is still the best way to send us bonus info (or request that we cover a given topic).
Here are some associate bonus odds and ends:
1. Quinn Emanuel: Lots of unhappy campers. The upshot is that they employed a very bright-line 2100 hours cutoff to get the full bonus. More details, after the jump.
2. Fish & Richardson: They announced a new compensation plan back in November. It didn’t go over so well. To their credit, they seem to be reversing themselves (for the most part; look out for a higher hours requirement). More details, after the jump.
3. Covington & Burling (New York): We previously reported on their special bonuses, which matched market. In case you were wondering, they’re also paying the standard year-end bonuses (in New York).
4. Bracewell & Giuliani (New York): We haven’t written much about them before. But since name partner Rudy Giuliani is in the news a lot lately, thanks to his presidential bid, and some folks were kind enough to send their memo our way, we provide their bonus announcement after the jump.
5. Kasowitz Benson: We also haven’t written much about Kasowitz Benson before. It’s a very profitable shop, and a bit on the secretive side. Since several people passed along their bonus memo, though, we’re happy to post it after the jump.

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We’ve received over 1,300 responses thus far to our ATL / Lateral Link survey on bonuses (accessible here). Before the holiday break, we shared with you the results for New York, Washington, Chicago, and Los Angeles.
Today’s new results are from San Francisco & Silicon Valley. Surprisingly, base salaries from those of you who responded from the Bay Area are actually slightly higher, on average, than those reported by associates in New York, particularly for more senior associates.When it comes to bonus, however, the Big Apple is still king.
The breakdowns of bonus and base compensation, after the jump.

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Shawn Hynes Shawn T Hynes Cleary Gottlieb Above the Law blog.jpgAs the old adage goes, “A lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client.” And there is some anecdotal evidence in support of that proposition. See, e.g., Elana Glatt / Elana Elbogen (depending upon how you view the merits of her case against her wedding florist).
Here’s another example of what can happen when Biglaw litigators represent themselves. From TaxProf Blog:

The Tax Court today decided Hynes v. Commissioner, T.C. Summ. Op. 2008-1 (1/2/08), a case involving Shawn T. Hynes, a fifth year securities litigation associate in Cleary Gottlieb’s New York City office. The taxable year at issue was 2003, when Hynes was a Penn 3L (he tranferred to Penn after completing his first year at Oregon).

More about the facts of Shawn Hynes’s case, and how he got benchslapped by the Tax Court, after the jump.

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Greenberg Traurig logo Above the Law blog.gifFrom the year-end message of Cesar L. Alvarez, CEO of Greenberg Traurig (one of our favorite firms here at ATL — see, e.g., here, here and here):

I had a few thoughts for 2007 and 2008 that I would like to share as my year-end message.

First, 2007. As of today, Sunday, December 30, 2007, we have collected $313.5 million during our collection drive and expect to collect approximately $16.5 million on Monday, the 31st, to reach $330 million for our December collection drive. Although we expect to be short by $10 million of our goal, this is still a great accomplishment when you consider the housing situation, the subprime issues and the dislocation of the credit markets that prevented a number of deals from being completed this year.

Read the rest of Cesar Alvarez’s message — in which he spreads holiday cheer doom and gloom, jawboning down associate compensation expectations — after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Is This A Law Firm, or the Salvation Army? Greenberg Traurig Launches ‘Collection Drive’ (and Hints at No More Pay Raises)”

associate bonus watch 2007 law firm Above the Law blog.jpgSince our last compilation of bonus news, which was issued before the holiday, we’ve received some new announcements. Some of them have been mentioned already in the comments, but have not yet appeared on the main page.
But we have verified them, and they are legit. So, for the record, here they are:
1. Dechert (New York): Memo after the jump. The email to New York associates was forwarded to Philadelphia associates, “[i]n the spirit of working on improving communications across the firm.” (Read: “So you don’t find out about it from one of those darn blogs first.”)
2. Mayer Brown (Chicago, Palo Alto, Washington, DC): Memo after the jump. In a nutshell, the bonuses “will be consistent with the amounts paid for 2006 work. In addition, a further discretionary bonus may be awarded to associates who have made contributions to the Firm significantly beyond expectations.”
3. Morrison & Foerster (New York): Memo after the jump. Market-level year-end and special bonuses “will be paid to all New York associates who progress with their salary class based on their annual evaluation and who are in good standing and employed with the Firm when the bonuses are paid.”

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: A Post-Holiday Round-Up”

clock.gifOver the break, a reader sent us this article, accompanied by a quip: “Looks like BigLaw is funding some new research.”
Our first reaction: A brain chemical you snort to replace sleep? It’s called “cocaine.”
But today we have a second reaction: Would such research, if funded by Biglaw, be a waste of time? Law firm associates — and partners — sacrifice sleep to rack up billable hours. But is the billable hour on the way out?
Over at Slate, in a piece entitled “How to Kill the Billable Hour,” Lisa Lerer writes:

[C]riticisms [of the billable hour] lobbed by academics, associates, and bloggers have had a negligible impact. Making such a significant change takes a more powerful force in law firm life: the client. And now, finally, the companies that pay millions in hourly rates are striking back, forcing their law firms to cut some tough, nonhourly fee deals. If anyone can tame the billable beast, it’s the clients who feed it….

Cisco, Pitney Bowes, Caterpillar, and several other large corporations have begun to force their law firms into alternative billing arrangements. The companies push flat fees and volume-based discounts, and ban young associates from working on their business, hoping to avoid paying through the nose for work that could be done more cheaply by paralegals or temp lawyers. They say that by eradicating or at least limiting hourly rates, they avoid cost creep, cut their bills, and better predict their expenses.

Writes an ATL reader who works at a prominent New York law firm: “Great. Now it won’t matter that I bill 2500 hours a year.”
A little more, on the other side of the rainbow.

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associate bonus watch 2007 law firm Above the Law blog.jpgLet’s send you into the holiday weekend with some associate bonus news. Here are some law firm bonus announcements that haven’t been previously covered in these pages.
(Firms that previously announced their bonuses, but are being sneaky about the exact amounts and/or the percentage of associates getting them, will be addressed separately. This post is for completely new announcements.)
Some of this news is incomplete. If you can provide more details, please email us. Thanks.
1. Akin Gump (New York): Year-end bonuses, and special bonuses to “those associates and counsel who have performed in accordance with the Firm’s expectations regarding productivity, quality of work and Firm citizenship.” Plus “discretionary merit bonuses” to associates and counsel “who performed in a truly exceptional manner.”
One source at the firm characterizes it as follows:

Full match in NY, with extra bonuses in certain cases (generally to billers over 2400). There has never been an hours requirement, so if past practice is any indicator, anyone not being fired will get it.

Full memo, after the jump.
2. Akin Gump (outside New York): Each associate is allowed to make the case to the firm for a big bonus. A source tells us that this practice of asking associates to write up memos to justify their bonuses started a few years ago. “I wonder how this plays into the current bonus climate, or if anyone else has to do this.”
3. Hogan & Hartson (outside New York): The 2007 bonus memo appears after the jump.
4. Hogan & Hartson (New York): We’ve confirmed the fact that Hogan announced bonuses in New York. It was described to us as a market match. But we haven’t seen a memo or the fine print of the announcement, so we can’t confirm that.
Update: The bonus memo for Hogan & Hartson’s New York office appears after the jump.
5. Vinson & Elkins (New York): “V&E matched the New York market bonus (including this year’s special bonus) for its New York associates, to be paid on January 15, 2008. No memo yet, a voicemail.”
6. Sheppard Mullin: Details after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: A Pre-Holiday Round-Up”

associate bonus watch 2007 law firm Above the Law blog.jpgAs you may recall, the reaction of ATL readers to the bonus announcement of O’Melveny & Myers was decidedly unfavorable. Now the Daily Journal (subscription) — in an article entitled “O’Melveny & Myers’ Below-Market Bonus Disappoints Associates,” by Maya Meinert and Rebecca Cho — has taken notice:

This week’s bonus announcement from Los Angeles-based firm O’Melveny & Myers has caused much dismay among associates in the firm’s California and Washington, D.C., offices – the law blog AboveTheLaw.com’s post on the subject generated more than 200 comments – because the standard bonuses remain unchanged from last year and are well below what is considered “market,” based on New York numbers.

Should other major players in California pay more, O’Melveny could feel the impact among its associate ranks, industry observers said.

According to a memo obtained by AboveTheLaw.com, O’Melveny’s standard bonuses range from $27,500 for first-year associates to $45,000 for those in their seventh year and beyond. The bonuses are tied to a rating system based on the firm’s expectations and a minimum billable-hour requirement of 1,950.

More excerpts and discussion, including the firm’s reaction when contacted by the Daily Journal, appears after the jump.

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Norman Schoenfeld Allen Overy LLP Above the Law blog.jpgWe have to step out for a bit (company holiday party). We’ve only skimmed this Complaint (PDF), just filed in the Southern District of New York, by a Jewish lawyer against his former employer, Allen & Overy.
Check out the Complaint for yourself, by clicking here (PDF), and offer your thoughts in the comments. We look forward to reviewing your reflections when we return.
P.S. A special request: nicknames for this lawsuit, a la “Brokeback Lawfirm” for the Aaron Charney case, are especially welcome.
Complaint: Norman Schoenfeld v. Allen & Overy (PDF)
Update: Here is the firm’s statement, emailed to us by a spokesperson:

Allen & Overy denies all allegations of discrimination. This person’s employment was terminated based solely on performance within his orientation period, a trial period of time mandated for all employees. He also failed to disclose to Allen & Overy the fact of his previous employment at another law firm.

Our firm has a strict written policy prohibiting any form of discrimination, and we provide all new employees and partners training in both diversity awareness and harassment prevention. Over the past several years, we have also instituted live diversity training for all of our existing attorneys and managers. We will vigorously defend our proud reputation of diversity and inclusion and are confident of a positive outcome for Allen & Overy with respect to these allegations.

We’ll write more about this later. If you have any firsthand information to pass along about the events in question, please email us. Thanks.

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