Clerkships

100 dollar bill Above the Law Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPGYesterday we floated this rumor:

“Skadden has raised its clerkship bonuses: $50,000 for one clerkship, $70,000 for two years. Applicable to all offices.”

We have not received official confirmation from the firm. But we have now received, via email, confirmation of this news from multiple sources. So we believe it’s safe to treat it as confirmed.
We have not received individual confirmations for ALL Skadden offices. But we have received them with respect to New York, Chicago, and Wilmington. We’d be surprised to hear, then, that this is not an across-the-board policy.
Now the latest rumors concern Davis Polk. If you can confirm, please email us (subject: “Clerkship Bonus”). Thanks.
Earlier: Clerkship Bonus Watch: Has Skadden Joined the $50K Club?

100 dollar bill Above the Law Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPGIn case any of you were wondering, last Friday’s news about Weil Gotshal clerkship bonuses has been officially confirmed. Here’s a statement from a firm spokesperson:

“Weil will pay $50K for a one-year state or Federal clerkship and $70K (i.e., the current amount) for a two-year clerkship.”

So there you have it, from the horse’s mouth. And there’s the answer to this commenter’s question: “Is that flat, or does Weil still double for two years?”
Okay, so Weil won’t give you $100K for two years of clerking experience. But $70,000 is still, as far as we know, the top of the market for two clerkships or years of clerking. Three cheers for Weil — and Cravath, which also pays $70,000 for two clerkships.
Does anyone know what S&C, Simpson, Paul Weiss, and Cleary Gottlieb — the other members of the $50K Club — pay for multiple clerkships or years of clerking? If so, please email us. Thanks.

100 dollar bill Above the Law Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPGThe various comments added to our last post, stating that Cleary Gottlieb has joined the elite ranks of law firms paying $50,000 clerkship bonuses, are correct. Here’s the email, from CGSH partner David Leinwand:

From: David LEINWAND
Time: 2:01 pm

I am very pleased to announce that the firm will be increasing its judicial clerkship bonus for U.S. associates who complete one or more clerkships to $50,000. The increased bonus will be paid to associates who accept an offer to join the firm or complete a clerkship after January 1, 2007.

Please do not hesitate to contact me or Norma Cirincione if you have any questions.

David Leinwand,
on behalf of the Recruiting Committee

So who’s next? By conventional prestige standrads, we’d say Davis Polk. By profits per partner, it would be Cadwalader. According to the just-released AmLaw 100 rankings, Cadwalader is the most profitable NYC-based firm — excluding Wachtell Lipton, which pays no clerkship bonus, but compensates with a ridiculous year-end bonus — that has not yet joined the $50K club.
But don’t hold your breath for Cadwalader. Based on Anthony Lin’s fascinating profile of the firm, published back in February, it seems that CWT isn’t a big fan of “clerky” types:

Whereas [rival] firms lavish attention on Ivy League law graduates with prestigious judicial clerkships, [Cadwalader Chairman Robert] Link wants lawyers who want to be in the business and want to work hard in it. He said his ideal candidate would probably be someone slightly older with previous work experience, maybe on Wall Street.

He has no use for Yale Law School.

“I don’t think we even recruit there anymore,” he said of the law school often regarded as the nation’s most intellectual. “They don’t seem to produce the kind of lawyer we want.”

Ouch. And Yale, which sends a sizable percentage of graduates directly into judicial clerkships each year, is the most “clerky” of law schools.
Does the Future Belong To Cadwalader? [New York Law Journal]

100 dollar bill Above the Law Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPGToday brings more happy tidings for law clerks, emanating from The Death Star.
Check out the Cravath website (navigate through Career Information: Law Students, Life at Cravath, and Associate Life):

Incoming associates, in fall 2007, who have completed a U.S. Federal district court, Federal appellate court, or state highest court clerkship receive a bonus of $50,000 and credit for a one-year clerkship.

What about for two clerkships or two years of clerking? Or clerkships that don’t fit one of the foregoing categories?

Those associates who complete a clerkship of two years or two one-year clerkships will receive (in lieu of the $50,000 bonus described previously) a bonus of $70,000 and class credit for each year of a clerkship, up to two years. Credit and bonuses for a magistrate, a state lower court or a clerkship outside of the U.S. are reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

Good stuff. We commend Cravath for its transparency with respect to these matters. And we congratulate them on joining Weil Gotshal at the top of the bonus market for two clerkships: $70,000. (More on Weil in a later post.)
So now the $50K Club has five members (in order of their joining): Sullivan & Cromwell, Simpson Thacher, Paul Weiss, Weil Gotshal, and Cravath.
Correction: The paragraph below, which now appears in strikethrough text, was based on erroneous information. We were previously advised that Cravath paid different clerkship bonuses for district and circuit court clerkships. That was incorrect. The old Cravath clerkship bonus structure was $15K across the board, up to a maximum of $30K.
One other observation on the Cravath news. It removes the firm’s former two-tier system with respect to clerkship bonuses ($15K for district court clerkships, $35K for circuit court clerkships). This makes sense to us. While circuit court clerks may have, on the whole or as a general matter, more impressive credentials than district court clerks, a district court clerkship is usually a more educational experience (at least viewed from the perspective of a future litigator).

100 dollar bill Above the Law Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPG
It didn’t take long for the $50k club to gain another member!
Multiple sources tell us that Weil, Gotshal & Manges decided last night to match the $50,000 clerkship bonus being offered by Sullivan & Cromwell, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, and Paul Weiss.
Who’ll be the next to join this exalted group?
Programming Note: With that exciting news, LEWW is signing off for the week. We’re heading up to New York for some things we can’t get in Alabama: Major League Baseball and Mario Batali.
It’s been an honor and a delight to fill in for David. He’ll be back soon with more on this and other stories. (And of course, LEWW will return with a new wedding column next week.)

100 dollar bill Above the Law Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPG
Multiple sources have just confirmed to ATL that Paul Weiss has matched the $50,000 clerkship bonus paid by Sullivan & Cromwell and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett.
The head of recruiting called people with outstanding offers today to make the announcement.
From a source:

PLEASE post this news so that it will continue to put pressure on the other NY-based firms. The more publicity ATL gives this, the more buzz there is in the market. It’s a beautiful thing for us lowly law clerks.

Congratulations to Paul Weiss for joining this very select group. We predict that $35k is soon going to start looking pretty paltry in certain quarters.

100 dollar bill Above the Law Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPGIn the comments to our last post on clerkship bonuses, there was a claim that WilmerHale has raised its clerkship bonus to $35,000.
That claim is true. This email went out yesterday:

From: Dunbar, Andrianna
Date: Apr 19, 2007 5:52 PM
Subject: Clerkship Bonus Update
To:

As part of our commitment to providing attorney compensation that is at or near the top of the markets in which we practice, the firm has increased its judicial clerkship bonus from $20,000 to $35,000. This increase reflects the value the firm places on hiring former judicial clerks, as well as our intention to continue to attract the best and the brightest legal talent. We are committed to making the firm as attractive as possible for former clerks, and we recognize that the amount of the clerkship bonus can be important.

We continue to hope that you will accept our offer to join us. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

Regards,
Andrianna

There was also a rumor that Skadden had raised its clerkship bonus to $60,000. As far as we know — we’re happy to be proven wrong — that comment was a joke (or wishful thinking).
If you hear of anyone else raising — either to $35,000 or, better yet, $50,000 (the new S&C and Simpson standard) — please email us. We will probably do an update on this in another week or two, depending upon the level of activity on this front. Thanks.

100 dollar bill Above the Law Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPGApparently Sullivan & Cromwell is no longer the only Biglaw shop paying a $50,000 clerkship bonus. According to multiple sources, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett — which in January kicked off the latest round of base salary increases for associates — has followed suit.
If S&C were the only member of the $50K club, competitor firms could afford not to follow suit. We agree with what this tipster had to say (prior to the Simpson Thacher match):

“What I gather from this general reluctance on the part of NY firms to match S&C’s $50K clerkship bonus is that there’s an emerging view within the legal market that S&C’s decision to ‘surge’ their bonus rate is, in some sense, an anticipation that they’re going to have a tough recruiting season this fall.”

“This clerkship bonus craze has nothing to do with clerks — and anyone who thinks otherwise is mistaken. What firms do care about is a bunch of newbie 2Ls (who are a month or so away from wrapping up 1L year right now), with nothing more than a pedestrian understanding on how Firm A differs from Firm B, going to S&C’s website and seeing that they offer $50K and then going to, say, Davis Polk’s and seeing that they offer less than a third of that.”

“My hunch is that if one more top firm matches S&C, then the rest will soon follow. The big question is who moves first — and when.”

We concur in this analysis. Now that Simpson has joined Sullivan & Cromwell, resisting the clerkship bonus trend will prove more difficult (at least for other top ten New York firms). Expect places like Cravath, Davis Polk, and Cleary Gottlieb to fall into line.
Have you heard of anyone else matching? Please email us (subject line: “Clerkship Bonus”). Thanks.
Earlier: Skaddenfreude: A Clerkship Bonus Special Report

100 dollar bill Above the Law Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPGThis is the rather belated update to our earlier report on the clerkship bonus policies of large law firms. We apologize for the delay, and we thank you for your patience and your tips.
A summary of our findings:

1. No large law firm has matched the new Sullivan & Cromwell clerkship bonus of $50,000 for one clerkship, at least as far as we’ve been able to confirm.

(a) But if you have two years of clerkship experience, think about Weil Gotshal. They would pay you a bonus of $70,000 ($35,000 x 2).

(b) In saying that no big firm has matched S&C, we aren’t counting Kellogg Huber, which pays a $100,000 clerkship bonus, and Susman Godfrey, which pays a $50,000 clerkship bonus, since they’re really boutiques.

(c) We aren’t counting intellectual property firms, some of whom pay $70,000 bonuses for Federal Circuit clerkships, because they are a world unto themselves.

2. Any firm worth its salt should offer a clerkship bonus of at least $35,000. This is what numerous big firms already do, and it should be considered the “market” rate. A bonus of anything less than $35K is chintzy and lame.

A firm-by-firm rundown, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Skaddenfreude: A Clerkship Bonus Special Report”

100 dollar bill Above the Law Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPGLast week, we asked you for information about the clerkship bonus policies of large law firms. We also made a few phone calls and sent out a few emails, to obtain information from the law firms themselves.
A summary of our findings:

1. No large law firm has matched the new Sullivan & Cromwell clerkship bonus of $50,000, at least as far as we’ve been able to confirm.

(a) There was a rumor about Paul Weiss matching S&C, but no one has confirmed it to us.

(b) We aren’t counting Kellogg Huber, which pays a $100,000 clerkship bonus, and Susman Godfrey, which pays a $50,000 clerkship bonus, since they’re really boutiques.

(c) We aren’t counting intellectual property firms, some of whom pay $70,000 bonuses for Federal Circuit clerkships, because they are a world unto themselves.

Update: As this commenter notes, if you have two years of clerkship experience, then Weil is where it’s at: $70,000 ($35,000 x 2).

2. As one Biglaw partner pointed out to us, it’s early to be thinking about clerkship bonuses, because we’re not yet at the point in the year when law clerks change over (typically in the summer or fall). So hopefully some firms will match S&C before it’s all over.

3. Any firm worth its salt should offer a clerkship bonus of at least $35,000. This is what numerous big firms already do, and it should be considered the “market” rate. A bonus of anything less than $35K is chintzy and lame.

Firm by firm details, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Skaddenfreude: A Special Report on Clerkship Bonuses”

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