Biglaw

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.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Featured Job Survey Results: Bonuses (San Francisco / Silicon Valley)”

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.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: O’Melveny & Myers Defends Its ‘Below-Market’ Bonuses”

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.

Mayer Brown new logo Above the Law blog.jpgStill no bonus announcement from Mayer Brown. But check out this intriguing email, sent out in the last hour:

From: D’Esposito, Jr., Julian C.
Sent: Thursday, December 20, 2007 12:41 PM
To: FW-Assocs; FW-Cnsl
Cc: Holzhauer, James D.; Geller, Kenneth S.; Maher, Paul; Favoriti, Gail A.; Pepper, Margery; Madden, Emilie S.; Dabrowski, Heidi M.; Reichert, Kathleen S.; Harris, Robert; Staiano, David; Couleur, Nancy Jo; Belic, Indira; Burdett, Shannon T.; Burkes, Eugenia; Corby, Candice; Harris, Russell; Holthaus, John H.; Kennedy, Clinton D.; Kislow, Connie; Ku, Alice; Loessl, Angela-Katrin; Tulic, Vesna; Watson, John; Wells, Stephen R.

Subject: Firmwide Meeting on Friday, December 21

Please plan to attend a Firmwide video presentation by the office of the Chairman on December 21 that will describe an exciting, transformational event for the Firm. The meeting will begin promptly at 8am PST, 10am CST, 11 am EST, 2pm BRST, 4 GMT, 5 CET and 12 am Saturday HKST. The Director of Administration will inform you of the location of the meeting in your office. If you are out of the office, there will be a limited number of dial-in lines, the number for which can be obtained from the DoA. You should receive an Outlook calendar notice of this meeting later today.

____________________________________________

Julian C. D’Esposito

Mayer Brown LLP
71 S. Wacker
Chicago, IL 60606

What could this “exciting, transformational event” be? We assume it’s not the recent indictment of partner Joseph Collins, since that’s already public.
Maybe a merger is in the works? It wouldn’t be the first in the firm’s history. The firm’s former name, Mayer Brown Rowe & Maw, reflected the merger of U.S.-based Mayer, Brown & Platt with U.K.-based Rowe & Maw.
Update: One tipster speculates:

I have no idea, but it is of course intriguing. Maybe we’re going public. (That would apply only to the English LLP of course. I think that it may be possible in the future but hadn’t seen any change in the law that would allow it now.)

So maybe it’s a merger. Or possibly the “exciting” change is that they are not going to give bonuses any more.

That would be “exciting” news — to rival firms, looking to raid the ranks of Mayer Brown lawyers.
Further Update: We’ve learned that tonight is the holiday party for the New York office. And still no word about bonuses…

associate bonus watch 2007 law firm Above the Law blog.jpgInformation is now trickling in about bonuses at Kirkland & Ellis. Last week we had heard — through the grapevine, from a social acquaintance of a K&E share partner — that they would be good. It appears that the scuttlebutt was correct.
A K&E source in Chicago, class of 2006, reports hours of 2050 and a bonus of $45,000. That would be market in New York ($35K year-end + $10K special). But in Chicago, it’s definitely above market.
A K&E source in New York advises as follows about New York bonus levels:

Overall bonuses were well over market. Exact numbers are hard to give… but about 60% were over market, with the rest mostly being with the market.

Out of the first years (class of 2006), 21 out of 36 people were above the market. After that, the ratio really increased as to the number of people who beat the market.

Congratulations, Kirkland associates, on your bountiful bonuses!
If you work at K&E, feel free to provide your bonus info in the comments. When it comes to bonus data points, the more the merrier. Thanks.
Earlier: Associate Bonus Watch: A Pre-Announcement from Kirkland & Ellis

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