You can access the various charts via this portal page. Aric Press and Greg Mulligan summarize the results:
It could have been worse. That’s the best that can be said for the performance last year of The Am Law 100, the top-grossing law firms in the nation. Three of the four key categories we’ve measured for 25 years — gross revenue, head count, and revenue per lawyer — fell, while profits per equity partner (PPP) barely increased by 0.3 percent, or $3,463, to $1.26 million.
So PPP was basically stable in 2009 — not a bad result given the continuing economic weakness last year. Perhaps law firm partners are better business managers than they get credit for?
A Florida state court judge, Jeffrey Streitfeld, has decided that the largest individual award to a former smoker is excessive. The Daily Business Review (gavel bang: ABA Journal) reports on the good news for tobacco peddler Philip Morris:
Calling the $300 million jury verdict “excessive” and “shocking,” Judge Jeffrey Streitfeld said he would determine a lower award later against tobacco giant Philip Morris USA. He gave no indication when he would rule.
The landmark verdict was reached in November for Cindy Naugle, an emphysema patient who quit smoking in 1993.
There are few things that bother me more than smokers blaming tobacco companies for becoming addicted to their products. Does Philip Morris sell an illegal product? No. Do you need to be galactically stupid to smoke yet not know that smoking is dangerous? Yes. So what is the rationale for suing a company that produces a legal product you’d have to be epically dumb to not know is potentially dangerous?
As a smoker, I feel particularly qualified to say: it’s not Philip Morris’s fault if I get sick. It’s my fault. I take personal responsibility for my own health choices.
Personal responsibility. Seems like a winning argument, doesn’t it? Well, it’s pretty much the argument pursued by Philip Morris’s lawyers. And … it horribly backfired.
Judge Streitfeld has decided to step in to correct the lawyers’ mistake.
Year-end associate bonuses were recently announced by Boies, Schiller & Flexner, the litigation powerhouse founded by the renowned David Boies. And the Boies bonuses were good — very good.
For starters, unlike other top firms, Boies is paying bonuses to first-year associates from the class of 2009. According to Phil Korologos, a partner in the firm’s New York office:
First-year associates who started after September 1, 2009 will receive a $5,000 year-end bonus. First-year associates who started prior to September 1, 2009, will receive the greater of $5,000 or their performance-based bonus.
Performance-based bonuses at the firm can be quite high, depending on how hard you work and the types of cases you work on (contingency or non-contingency). As a result, bonuses at Boies are individualized, not lockstep; there’s no magic number for each class year. The firm provided Above the Law with the high end of its bonus ranges:
For associates after their first year, the amount of their bonus is based on performance. The performance based bonuses for rising second-year associates range as high as $70,000.
The performance based bonuses for associates beyond their second year range as high as $150,000.
Six-figure bonuses? Now we’re getting into Wachtell territory — or beyond (since we suspect Wachtell bonuses will be down quite a bit this year).
In addition, Boies Schiller pays above-market base salaries — just like Wachtell ($165,000) and Williams & Connolly ($180,000). First-year associates at BSF now start at $174,000.
Check out the complete Boies salary scale, plus learn more about how their bonuses are calculated, after the jump.
You can still call yourself prestigious if you work at the firms that make up today’s fall recruiting open thread. But once you are outside of the Vault top 20, people start talking about “firm culture” at least as much as they talk about prestige.
Here’s the next batch:
The slide continues for Shearman & Sterling. The firm was ranked #19 last year, and is down two spots this year. Is there any specific reason for the fall?
After the jump, let’s look at the firms rising up through the rankings.
Yesterday, the New York Times published a story about New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s ties to “big tobacco.” As an associate at Davis Polk & Wardwell, Gillibrand — who replaced Hillary Clinton as New York’s junior Senator — represented Phillip Morris.
For most people who understand how law is practiced at the top firms in the country, the interesting part of the NYT article pretty much ends there. As an associate, especially a “superstar” associate as Gillibrand appears to have been, you work for the partners and represent the clients they tell you to represent. It’s really not that complicated.
But since Gillibrand is now a Senator and tobacco is “evil,” neither the Times nor Gillibrand could just leave well enough alone. The Times takes the first shot:
But a review of thousands of documents and interviews with dozens of lawyers and industry experts indicate that Ms. Gillibrand was involved in some of the most sensitive matters related to the defense of the tobacco giant as it confronted pivotal legal battles beginning in the mid-1990s.
Gillibrand was at DPW from 1991 to 2000. And she was really good at it. Wouldn’t one expect that a superstar mid-level would be involved in “sensitive matters” relating to a huge firm client? But hey, the Times reports that Gillibrand is a “former smoker.” Ah-ha. She clearly wants to hand out free cigarettes in elementary school.
But Gillibrand does slightly overplay her hand. We’ll get into it after I take a smoke break.
We’ve been hearing talk of interesting developments at Boies, Schiller & Flexner, the litigation powerhouse founded by the legendary David Boies, which seems to be doing well despite the downturn (see their bonuses). If you have info to share, please feel free to email us.
Here is some news that we can confirm. The BSF office in New Jersey — located in the upscale community of Short Hills, home to the fabulous, high-end shopping mall — is breaking off from the mother ship. Partners David Stone (at right) and Robert Magnanini are hanging up their own shingle, at Stone & Magnanini. (The official press release is available here.)
As one might expect of Boies Schiller partners, Stone and Magnanini are highly experienced and impressively credentialed. David Stone (above right) — a graduate of Harvard Law School, where he worked with such heavyweights as Alan Dershowitz and Laurence Tribe — has developed a robust practice in complex civil and criminal litigation. He has been particularly successful in handling False Claims Act cases, where he has scored some major victories (including a $163 million settlement in the Medco case).
Bob Magnanini (at right), a graduate of Columbia Law School, has similarly extensive experience in complex civil and criminal cases, especially False Claims Act matters. He’s also a Lieutenant Colonel in the New York Army National Guard, serving as the senior division staff officer from the 42nd Infantry Division at the World Trade Center for the two weeks following the 9/11 attacks.
They’ll be joined by Eric Jaso, as counsel. Jaso, a graduate of the University of Chicago Law School, is a former Justice Department official and federal prosecutor, who also worked at Latham & Watkins and Cravath. (Disclosure: Jaso is a friend and former colleague of your above-signed scribe, from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Jersey.)
We chatted on the phone with David Stone — no relation to Eli — about the new firm. Read more, after the jump.
UPDATE (4/7/09): As of now, the firm is hiring. Details here.
Last week, John B. Quinn, managing partner of Quinn Emanuel, gave his “state of the firm” address. Quinn’s address made some associates feel better and more secure. Other associates were angry. But if you are interested in how partners really think, the address was pretty interesting.
Quinn takes questions during this annual address, and this year the questions quickly turned to Quinn Emanuel’s bonus structure. Quinn paid Cravath-level bonuses for associates that hit 2100 hours (while giving more money to associates who far exceeded that target).
But Quinn also showed a significant surge in profits per partner, up 11 percent from last year. So associates wondered why more of that money didn’t trickle down to the associate level. According to tipsters, John Quinn told the gathering:
He said that we could have afforded to pay the higher bonuses, and we could afford to increase everyone’s salary by 10 to 15 thousand a year, but that doing so just doesn’t make strong business sense.
When we contacted Mr. Quinn, he reiterated his position that the market, not profit numbers, sets the level for associate bonuses:
i also said that the amount of associate bonuses–for all firms, not just ours–is driven by the market, which is very efficient. and of course it’s a business decision. firms don’t base bonuses, or salaries for that matter, on “what can we afford”, but on the market. we are no different.
Of course, Quinn Emanuel isn’t the only game in town. After the jump, we learn that Mr. Quinn won’t hold it against you if you feel you can get a better deal than what his firm is offering.
Generally, it is not cool to make fun of people who don’t pass the New York Bar Exam.
However, Elizabeth Wurtzel puts us in a difficult position. A) She’s a public figure, B) She really doesn’t seem to care. When the New York Observer approached her with the news that Gawker alerted the world that she failed the bar, Wurtzel responded:
“Wow, really? I had no idea. I didn’t even see that. That’s interesting,” Ms. Wurtzel said of the report, with an awkward half-smile.
Well, what was she supposed to say?
I’m so ashamed and embarrassed, and Gawker has compounded my misery. I wish I could cry but I have no more tears left. I wish the public would just leave me alone so I can hang myself in the privacy of my own bathroom.
Why give the haters any opening? Going quietly into the night is a fine option.
So, why isn’t ATL just leaving her alone? After the jump.
[Ed. note: Happy Columbus Day. And to the Canadians, happy Thanksgiving. Our publisher Breaking Media has encouraged us to embrace the holiday spirit on this second Monday of October, so we will not be publishing today. We'll see you tomorrow.]
* “Experts call 5 ongoing probes of federal jurists unprecedented.” [Houston Chronicle]
We’re back with another installment in our series of open threads on the Vault 100. This is an opportunity for insiders to sound off on their firms for the benefit of wannabe potential first-year and lateral associates.
Here are the next ten on the Vault list, with prestige scores in parentheses:
The most interesting set of “notable perks” in this bunch can be found at Boies Schiller. On the upside, there is an annual trip to Jamaica for attorneys and their families — in December, no less — but on the downside, it’s a “sweatshop run by a genius.” This makes us think of David Boies as the legal profession’s Santa Claus — who likes to take the elves to Montego Bay.
We invite the curious to ask questions about these firms, and for those in-the-know to take pity. Earlier:Vault 100 Open Threads – 2009
In a land that is right here and in a time that is right now, a technology has arisen so powerful that it can replace basic human document review. Is it time to bow down before our new robot overlords?
First, here’s a little story about me: my life in the legal world began as a paralegal. My first case was a GIANT patent infringement case that was already six years old and had involved as many as five companies, multiple US courts, the ITC and an international standards committee. I knew nothing about any of this.
On my first day, my supervisor (a paralegal with at least eight other cases driving her crazy) sat me down in front of a Concordance database with a 100,000+ patents and patent file histories. “Code these,” she said. I learned that “coding”, for the purposes of this exercise, meant manually typing the inventor’s name, the title of the patent, the assignee, the file date, and other objective data for each document. I worked on that project – and only that project – for at least the first six months of my job. After a week or so, time began to blur.
What I know, in retrospect and with absolutely certainty, is that as time began to blur, so did my judgment. So did my attention to detail. If you could tell me that I did not make at least one mistake a day – one inconsistent spelling, one reversed day and month, one incorrectly spaced title – I frankly would need to see your evidence. I would not believe it. The human mind is trainable but it is not a machine.
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We currently have a number of active openings for associate roles at US and UK firms in HK / China, Singapore and two new in-house openings. As always, please feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org in order to get details of current openings in Asia, as well as to discuss the Asia markets in general and what we expect for openings later this year. Our Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney will be in Beijing the week of March 25 and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong the week of April 1, if you would like to meet them in person.
The US associate openings we have in law firms are in the usual areas of M&A, cap markets, FCPA / white collar litigation, finance, and project finance. The most urgent of our top tier (top 15 US or magic circle) law firm openings in Asia (among many other firm openings that we have in Asia) are as follows:
• 2nd to 5th year mandarin fluent M&A associates needed in Beijing and Hong Kong at several firms;
• Korean fluent 2nd to 4th year cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 5th year Japanese fluent M&A associates needed in Tokyo;
• 4th to 6th year mandarin fluent cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 4th year M&A / cap markets mix associate needed in Singapore.
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