Before those big Supreme Court opinions start drifting in, let’s put in a quick word about clerkship bonuses.
As several commenters suggested yesterday, we contacted Latham & Watkins to find out about their clerkship bonus policy. We confirmed that the firm effectively pays a clerkship bonus just shy of $50,000, which does not vary depending upon which office you work in, and we learned some additional information as well:
* Latham & Watkins pays federal clerk bonuses at approximately $50,000, which comprises a $35,000 bonus plus a $13,333 bar study / bar exam and review fees bonus.
* Clerks to federal magistrate judges do receive the federal clerkship bonus.
* Latham & Watkins paid its 2006 U.S. Supreme Court clerks a ‘signing bonus’ of $200,000. In 2006, six Supreme Court clerks joined Latham & Watkins in the firm’s Washington, D.C., San Diego and San Francisco offices.
* “As a leading global law firm with a diverse national presence in the U.S., Latham & Watkins regularly evaluates its compensation.”
We thank Latham for furnishing us with this helpful information. Update: As for multiple clerkships or years of clerking experience, the firm does not have a fixed and easily summarized policy, since more factors come into play. If you’re in that boat, you should consult with Recruiting. Further Update: Don’t shoot the messenger. If you don’t like Latham’s clerkship bonus policy, that’s fine, but don’t blame us for communicating it to you.
Commenters, you’ve ticked us off. We are no longer going to reach out to firms for information about their clerkship bonus policies, because (1) it doesn’t affect that many people, at least compared to base salary increases or year-end bonuses, and (2) we’re tired of your ingratitude and abuse.
We will still cover clerkship bonus news, by posting information that tipsters send in to us. But we’re no longer bothering with affirmative outreach to firms on this front, since such “sua sponte” efforts are not appreciated. In light of all the other things we cover, it’s just not worth our time and effort.
While we’re on the subject of judicial clerkships (or clerkship bonuses), and with clerkship application season not that far off, we’d like to put in a quick plug for the Clerkship Notification Blog.
We’ve mentioned it in these pages before. It’s a great resource for clerkship applicants.
But it can’t go on without your help. The blog’s former editor, Katherine McDaniel, is leaving — to clerk, naturally. So she’s looking for two people to take over the site from her.
We encourage you to apply. For details, please click here. Thanks. Now Accepting Applications [The Clerkship Notification Blog (2007-2008 Season)]
Some good news for law clerks heading to the New York office of Covington & Burling after their clerkships. A source at the firm directed us to check out this updated section of their website:
We reward judicial clerks who come directly to the firm following their clerkship(s) with credit for purposes of both salary and partnership consideration, together with a $50,000 bonus for one clerkship and a $70,000 bonus for two clerkships for those who have clerked for a federal judge, or for the highest court in any state or the District of Columbia.
So add a new member to the $50K/$70K Club. But note that Covington is taking the Ropes & Gray approach: the new and improved clerkship bonuses are paid out in New York only. In Washington and San Francisco, the firm still pays a $35,000 clerkship bonus. Update: Also noteworthy, per a commenter: “This is different from the other $70K bonuses in that it only applies to people with two-clerkships, rather than one two-year clerkship.”
In addition, we’ve heard a rumor that Willkie Farr & Gallagher has raised its clerkship bonus to $50,000. But we haven’t seen the email, and Willkie’s website and NALP form don’t reflect this info. If you can confirm, please drop us a line.
A “List of Shame” for top firms paying below-market clerkship bonuses, after the jump.
A few more updates from tipsters: Edward C. Dawson, who clerked for Kennedy in OT 2003, is with Yetter & Warden, and according to our tipster is in the new Austin office.
Marc Allen, also a former Kennedy clerk, has reportedly gone in-house with Boeing, working for his old boss, Judge J. Michael Luttig. Leondra Kruger, who clerked for Stevens in OT 2003, is a visiting assistant professor at the University of Chicago Law School.
The pattern of about half in private practice appears to be holding.
In our recent New York Times op-ed piece on Supreme Court clerkship bonuses, we argued that “[f]rom a narrowly economic point of view — focusing on the actual work the clerks will perform, and setting aside the law firms’ quest for prestige and bragging rights — it is difficult to understand why firms fight for the right to shower 26-year-olds with cash.”
One of the contentions we thought about offering in support of this claim was that Supreme Court clerks don’t stick around their law firms for very long after getting their huge bonuses. This was our sense of things, based admittedly on “anec-data.” It seemed to us that SCOTUS clerks go to law firms, stay for maybe two years, and then leave to become law professors, or government or public interest lawyers.
But then we decided to go back and look at the data. We thought it would be interesting to see how many Supreme Court clerks from October Term 2002 and October Term 2003 are still in private practice. The OT 2002 and OT 2003 clerk classes were ideal for the purpose of assessing the effect of bonuses because (1) law firms were offering gargantuan bonuses by this point in time, and (2) enough years have passed to allow for meaningful assessment of the clerks’ career paths.
We undertook this research, and it ended up showing that a reasonably high percentage of clerks — about 50 percent — are in private practice, a few years down the road. It’s not an overwhelmingly high percentage (in which case our argument that the firms effectively subsidize other quarters of the profession would be undermined). But it’s also not as low as we expected. We revised our argument accordingly, omitting any suggestion that a majority of clerks “take the money and run.”
Anyway, having done all this research, we felt like we should put it to some use (since it ended up not being reflected in the final version of the op-ed piece). Posting it on ATL seemed worthwhile enough.
Are you curious about what Supreme Court clerks from a few years ago are up to nowadays? Check out the lists, after the jump. The Supreme Court’s Bonus Babies [New York Times]
Hey everyone, remember those things called clerkship bonuses? After a long period of radio silence — the most recent news was from before Memorial Day — we have more information to share.
We just got off the phone with a Fried Frank spokesperson, who informed us as follows:
1. The firm has raised its clerkship bonus to $50,000.
2. This bonus doesn’t change depending upon whether you have one or two years of clerkship experience. (Most of the firm’s clerks join the firm from one-year clerkships.)
Are you aware of any recent clerkship bonus announcements that we haven’t mentioned in these pages? If so, please email us (subject line: “Clerkship Bonus”). Thanks.
By email and in comments, readers have expressed significant curiosity about associate compensation at Williams & Connolly, the elite, Washington-based litigation boutique. We’d like to help; but we don’t have anything to report at the current time.
Here are some questions that we’d like your thoughts on:
1. Base Salaries. Historically the firm has paid above-market base salaries, but no bonuses. Back in March, Williams & Connolly raised to $165K. At that time, when homegrown D.C. firms were paying 145/155/170, a starting salary of $165,000 was well above the market.
But now that Washington-based firms have raised to 160/170/185, will Williams & Connolly raise again to stay ahead of the competition? Or might they stay at $165,000, but start paying bonuses?
2. Clerkship Bonuses: Speaking of bonuses…. The last we heard, Williams & Connolly paid a clerkship bonus of $25,000. Is that still correct? Do they differentiate between district and circuit court clerkships? What about people with two years of clerkship experience? Inquiring minds want to know.
Update: A current offeree confirms that the W&C clerkship bonus is still at $25K.
3. Summer Associates. A rumor, from a tipster:
The word is that summers aren’t being paid the first-year associate rate. They’re getting $2500 a week, while other DC summers are getting $3100.
We’ve gotten a flurry of updates on the email war. Here’s a sampling:
At the risk of incurring the wrath of everyone…, I have decided to throw myself out in front of the train in an attempt to alleviate the inevitable eruption of spiteful emails that continually come forth over a list serve designed to meet the needs of a specific population. When said list is overbroad and incorporates those to whom the subject matter is inapplicable, the first response is generally, “interesting, glad this does not affect me and good luck to those people.” As the first response or two arrives to the PAC solicitation, those in the nilist camp think, “oops, looks like someone accidentally hit the ‘reply all’ button instead of reply. Well, good luck to those people.” Eventually, ten to twenty replies appear, making an inbox look like a gathering of lemmings – yes the electronic communitcation apocalypse is rapidly approaching. Mildly annoyed, those who were involuntarily drafted into this convention think, “everyone has started to make my inbox their soapbox. I hope someone suggests to everyone that they should not hit the ‘reply all’ button, because i don’t want to come across as the person who forgot to have coffee this morning, was shafted out of a fun memorial day vacation, and just got a 30 page handwritten pro se summary judgment motion with 12 counts in it. I still wish those people well, good luck to them.”
No, that’s not the whole message. It continues, after the jump.
Hey, have you read Above the Law for like one single minute in the past month? If so, you probably know that we’re having this big blogger conference on March 14th at the Yale Club. Yeah, the Yale Club. You’ll be able to recognize me: I’ll be the only big… blogger guy surreptitiously holding a can of crimson spray-paint.
Speaking of coming, you should come. We’ve got CLE and all that. Click here to buy tickets to get CLE credit for listening to bloggers scream about stuff on the internet.
To refresh your memory, details on the panel that I’m moderating — almost entirely sober, mind you — follow.
My panel is called Blogs as Agents of Change, and we’re going to talk about whether all of these spilled pixels are actually making a difference. You know my view… just ask Lawrence Mitchell, but here are the panelists:
So you spent a considerable amount of time courting, selling and maybe even doing some friendly stalking of that attractive lateral partner candidate with a sizable book. After he or she ignored your emails and didn’t return your calls, a few weeks go by and you read a press release in the legal media announcing the recent move to a competing firm.
Rats. Another one got away from you. You cringe when you consider how much time was spent in meetings that did not bear fruit. Your heart aches when recall how you were led to believe this was a marriage made in heaven.
You have been rejected.
The sting of rejection is painful, even for fancy law firms. But you need to find a way that you can turn this disappointment into a legitimate learning experience.
No, this isn’t a pre-party before we come back next fall for the real thing. This IS the real thing. Quinn Emanuel is pushing the envelope on recruiting. The party is now. This is when you meet the partners and associates face to face. This is when we begin the dance that could land you an offer for your second summer BEFORE school starts in the fall.
First: You come to the party. Second: If you like us, you send your resume after June 1, 2014. Third: If we like each other, you get an offer.
We’re not waiting for fall. We’re not doing the twenty minute thing. This party is the real thing!
We hope you’ll join us, and look forward to meeting you.
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