Boring Stuff

‘If only I had an eDiscovery solution for compliance and discovery requests to efficiently manage, identify, analyze, and produce potentially responsive information from a single, unified platform. Of course, it would be hosted in a private, cloud-based environment.’

While technology has reduced costs for many areas of legal practice (e.g., research), the centrality of electronically stored information to complex civil litigation has sent discovery costs skyrocketing. Hence the rapid proliferation of e-discovery vendors like so many remoras on the Biglaw shark. Nobody seems to know how large the e-discovery market is — estimates range from 1.2 to 2.8 billion dollars — but everyone agree it’s not going anywhere. We’re never going back to sorting through those boxes of documents in that proverbial warehouse. New amendments to the FRCP specifically dealing with e-discovery became effective way back in December 2006, but if the e-discovery vendors (evangelists?) at this week’s LegalTech tradeshow are to be believed, we are only in the technology’s infancy in terms of its development and impact on the legal profession.

At LegalTech, we attended a “supersession” presented by e-discovery provider Planet Data, promising to present “judicial, industry, legal, and media perspectives on where legal technology is taking litigation and how it affects you.” Don’t be jealous….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Letter From LegalTech: The Thrills of E-Discovery”

Bingham McCutchen new logo Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgOkay, this is not the most exciting layoff news ever. It pales in comparison to the massive bloodshed over at Cadwalader this morning, which forced us to break out the Drudge siren. It reminds us of those Kaye Scholer secretarial layoffs from May, just not as big.
But when it comes to law-firm layoff coverage, we try to be as thorough and as granular in detail as possible. If people click on the Layoffs tag here at ATL, they should be able to access, in one place, news of all acknowledged — and some unacknowledged — layoffs at Am Law 200 firms, covering both lawyers and staff.
So, with that said, check out the WSJ Law Blog, for news of staff cuts at Bingham McCutchen.
Bingham McCutchen Lays Off 10 Staff Members [WSJ Law Blog]
Earlier: Nationwide Layoff Watch: Kaye Scholer Lays Off Five Secretaries

We resume our occasional series on the perks or fringe benefits of Biglaw life. Today’s thrilling subject: bar dues. From a reader:

Would you mind including paying for bar dues/section memberships and ABA memberships/section dues in your series on fringe benefits at law firms?

Okay, sure. We don’t know if this will be terribly exciting, since (1) most big firms pay for bar fees and ABA dues, and (2) the sums in question aren’t very large. We have a vague recollection of some top firm — Cleary? — that had a “tradition” of having lawyers pay their own bar fees, but we don’t think that’s the case any longer (and Cleary’s NALP form says they pay bar fees and bar association membership dues).
So we’re not expecting much — but we’re happy to be proven wrong. Please discuss, in the comments. Thanks.

grandmother grandma old lady old woman Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgWe continue our series examining perks or fringe benefits provided by legal employers. We’ve already covered technology allowances, gym memberships, marriage bonuses, and help with housing.
Today we tackle a subject that’s kinda boring, but very important: retirement benefits and financial planning. If you don’t think about this stuff now, you’ll be chewing ramen with your dentures in fifty years.
So what does your employer do on this front? Do you get a 401(k) or an IRA? Is there an employer contribution?
And one reader also wants to know: Do any firms provide their associates with help in terms of financial planning? Do they assist you in navigating the maze of confusing options?
Please discuss in the comments. Thanks.

supreme court 3.JPGZzzzzzzzz…
Guess this is the calm before the storm. The Supreme Court cranks out lots of important-but-boring opinions in May, so it can clear the decks and focus on the 5-4, “It’s All About AMK” barnburners that it dumps on the nation in June. Nino starts saving up his energy for penning those trademark zingers of his.
The most interesting of today’s quintet of decisions would appear to be Bell Atlantic v. Twombly (05-1126). Per Lyle Denniston of SCOTUSblog:

“The Supreme Court, in the first of five final decisions, ruled on Monday that claims of parallel business conduct are not sufficient to prove an antitrust conspiracy under Section 1 of the Sherman Act.”

In other words: If you’re thinking of filing an antitrust lawsuit against Biglaw, ’cause large law firms engage in “parallel business contact” with respect to associate compensation — good luck with that.
(True confession: we doubt we’ll be reading these five slip opinions anytime soon. But if you happen to check them out, and come across anything amusing — funny footnotes, bitchy benchsaps — please feel free to let us know.)
Update: A post on Los Angeles County v. Rettele, which has its amusing aspects, appears here.
Court issues five rulings [SCOTUSblog]

stack of bills cash money.jpgAnnouncements just in from Kaye Scholer and Covington & Burling (NY). Guess what? They’ll be paying associate bonuses consistent with the New York market rates.
We realize this is thrilling news. But please, control your excitement.
We don’t have a copy of the Covington memo, but we understand that (1) the bonuses will be paid in January, and (2) the class of 2006/”stub year” bonus is a prorated $30,000.
The Kaye Scholer memo, after the jump.
P.S. We’re still interested in a copy of the Cahill Gordon memo from yesterday (assuming there was one).

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: Kaye Scholer and Covington Match”

stack of bills cash money.jpgBiglaw bonus season is lurching towards its inevitable, anticlimactic close. Yesterday there were a few more announcements of market matching, from White & Case and Fried Frank.
Pretty standard-issue. The only noteworthy difference: the math-challenged folks at Fried Frank, instead of paying the class of 2006 the usual bonus of $30,000 prorated, announced a flat bonus of $10,000.
We didn’t receive these tips from verified sources at these firms. They came from anonymous ATL commenters, and from Infirmation / Greedy NY. So they haven’t been “confirmed” in the same way as prior bonus announcements.
But at this point, is confirmation really necessary? Do we need confirmation that the earth revolves around the sun, or that Justice Thomas is the least-active questioner at SCOTUS oral argument?
A memo, a table, and links, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: A Few More Announcements”

stack of bills cash money.jpgThis morning’s news is that Shearman & Sterling announced bonuses that match Milbank. We haven’t confirmed this yet, but we have no reason to doubt it, since it’s what everyone else is doing. If you have a memo, please send it our way.
While we were over at Greedy NY, our eye was caught by this plaintive post:

I hope this year of bonus numbers causes a revolt. But it wont. Because, lets face it we are all total dorks. The guys that never got dates, that got beat up in the playground. Thats why we sit here and take this beating and just gripe about it. As much as we hate bankers, they have the chutzpah to step up and do something about being wronged. We go into law because its a “safe” profession, the one where we are “guaranteed” a job.

Seriously, if you went to a top 5 law school as I did, if you compared the student bodies of our law school and the business school, the B-school students were better looking, more confident. The law school students, on the other hand, were total geeks. The partners know this, since they themselves are dorks and losers and make a living out of getting yelled at by 25 year-old bankers and as such there will be no Revenge of the Nerds this year (or any other year). So lets stop talking as if we are hard.

Whether you agree or disagree, it’s one of the most well-written and thoughtful postings we’ve read in a while (although, to be sure, the standards for message-board discourse aren’t set very high). If you have any reactions, please feel free to add them in the comments.
Shearman announced this morning [Infirmation / Greedy NY]
No revenge of the nerds [Infirmation / Greedy NY]

stack of bills cash money.jpgThe latest news is that Morrison & Foerster’s New York office has matched the market bonuses. We’ve checked with our MoFo sources, and this is accurate.
So consider it CONFIRMED. Specific numbers, after the jump.
Earlier today, a reader made this comment:

“Why don’t you just call up all the firms now, instead of waiting for the rumors to appear one by one, so we can get this over with?”

Not a bad idea, given the “Chinese water torture” aspect to tracking bonuses. The only rub is that not all firms have necessarily decided on what they’ll be paying — at least in theory. Rumor is that the Cravath memo wasn’t issued until after the Cravath partnership met. So it’s (theoretically) possible that some firm might pay out above-market bonuses.
But as a practical matter, yes, it’s true: Everybody is probably just going to match market.
In light of all the parallel conduct, maybe there’s an antitrust issue here. But whether you can even get discovery on it depends upon the ruling in Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, currently pending in the Supreme Court.
Is “Associate Bonus Watch” less suspenseful than a Hitchcock film? Yes. Is the bonus-tracking game effectively over? Pretty much.
But ABW has been great for our traffic. And who knows, maybe there will be a surprise or two. So we’ll keep following the “news,” even if it consists of every other firm falling into line, until all the top Biglaw shops have announced.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: The Fat Lady Is Losing Her Voice”

Linda Greenhouse nude naked shirtless pics pictures photos photographs Above the Law.JPGThis post has nothing to do with the gastrointestinal tract of a certain Supreme Court reporter. Rather, it’s about Massachusetts v. EPA, the greenhouse gases/global warming case, argued before the Supreme Court yesterday.
We’re relatively late in covering this — you’ve probably read about it already elsewhere — so we’ll be brief.
Questions Presented:
(1) Can the EPA (read: Bush Administration) get away with refusing to regulate carbon dioxide in automobile emissions, even though a bunch of states, cities, and environmental groups want it to?
(2) Do these entities have standing to object to the refusal?
(3) Has President Bush been reading too much Michael Crichton?
Money Quote(s): Eh, there weren’t any. This argument was no KSR v. Teleflex.
And are you really surprised? It’s an administrative law/environmental law case, concerning the proper construction of the Clean Air Act, with a big threshold question about standing. Not exactly a barrel of laughs.
Likely Outcome: Who knows? We agree with Tony Mauro and Lyle Denniston: It all comes down to Justice Kennedy.
Roberts may be the Chief, but it’s Kennedy’s Court. And everyone else is just sitting on it.
Massachusetts v. EPA, No. 05-1120 [On the Docket / Medill]
Justices’ First Brush With Global Warming [New York Times]
Massachusetts v. EPA oral argument transcript [Supreme Court (PDF)]
Eyes on Kennedy as Supreme Court Debates Global Warming Case [Legal Times]
EPA argument 11/29/06: Major precedent looms? Maybe not [SCOTUSblog]
Analysis: Kennedy key to global warming challenge [SCOTUSblog]
Today at the Supreme Court: Preemption and Global Warming [WSJ Law Blog]

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