Veteran litigator Joseph Russoniello, recently nominated to serve as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California, previously served as senior counsel in the San Francisco office of Cooley Godward Kronish. If he’s confirmed, which is looking likely, one would expect him to take a big pay cut as he moves from private practice to government service. The current Attorney General, Michael Mukasey, earned $1,993,367 over 21 months while at Patterson Belknap; now, as AG, he takes home $186,600 a year.
But Joe Russoniello won’t be taking such a huge pay cut. A reader observes:
Buried at the end of a Recorder article (subscription) about a DOJ report about Joe Russoniello’s possible conflicts or interest due to his $1.5 million stock portfolio is Joe’s last year’s compensation from Cooley Godward. This is the part that I found interesting. Why? Because it’s so low.
What do you think Cooley Godward was paying the ex-U.S. Attorney to serve as counsel to the firm? Half a million? A million? No…. $244,802!
In light of that paycheck — which, while handsome by normal standards, is a pittance by Biglaw ones — we hope that Russoniello’s Cooley gig was super-cushy, with minimal billing required. His paycheck is pretty much equal to that of a third-year associate at Cravath, all in (base of $180,000, year-end bonus of $45,000, and special bonus of $20,000). But how many Cravath third-years can claim to have served as U.S. Attorney in a major city for eight years, as Joseph Russoniello did (1982-1990)? Fighting Crime May Not Pay [The Recorder (subscription)] Taking Stock of The DOJ’s Next Targets [Legal Pad]
Law firm mergers have transformed the Biglaw landscape over the past decade. Several of the five firms in our latest open thread on Vault 100 firms have been involved in merger mania.
Here are the firms to talk about this morning:
Yesterday we passed along the rumor that Joseph Russoniello, of Cooley Godward Kronish in San Francisco, would be returning to a post he held years ago: U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California.
We remain fairly confident in this tip. But for the record, there is nothing official to report just yet. Mr. Russoniello kindly got back to us, but only to advise that he has no comment at this time and can neither confirm nor deny that he has been offered the U.S. Attorney position.
Meanwhile, our friends over at Legal Pad picked up on our post. Check out their analysis, in which they refer to Russoniello as “the frontrunner” per “conventional wisdom,” by clicking here. Russoniello Takes the U.S. Attorney Gig? [Legal Pad / Cal Law] Earlier: Musical Chairs: A New U.S. Attorney for San Francisco?
Veteran litigator Joseph Russoniello, of Cooley Godward Kronish in San Francisco, was recentlyrumored to be a contender for the post of U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California.
We’re now hearing that the job — which Russoniello previously held, from 1982 to 1990 — may be his once again. From a tipster:
I have on good authority that Joe Russoniello was offered and accepted the US attorney position for the N. District of CA. I don’t think its been announced yet.
If Russoniello does get the job, it would be very “Fred Fielding”-esque: bring back an elder statesman, from the Reagan Administration, with impeccable credentials. At least the Dems won’t be able to give him a hard time over a lack of prosecutorial experience.
We’ve contacted Joseph Russoniello, but we haven’t heard back from him yet. We’ll let you know if and when he gets back to us.
P.S. We’re sad that the fabulous Eumi Choi apparently didn’t get the nod. Who’d Want This Job, Anyway? [National Law Journal via Law.com (subscription)] Joseph P. Russoniello bio [Cooley Godward Kronish] U.S. Attorney Kevin V. Ryan Announced Departure [U.S. Attorney's Office (Northern District of California)]
We have confirmed the rumor from the comments that Cooley Godward Kronish raised associate salaries yesterday.
Actually, here’s a better way of saying it: Cooley has matched the market. Because, let’s face it, the $160K scale is the new going rate in California.
(And it effectively is in Washington, DC, where Hogan & Hartson, Akin Gump, and all the D.C. offices of New York and West Coast firms pay on the $160K scale. We’ll have to wait and see, however, with respect to Chicago, Texas, and a few other major legal markets.)
We confirmed the fact of the raise with a source at the firm; but we don’t have a copy of the Cooley memo yet (assuming there was one). If you have one, please email it to us (or post it in the comments). Thanks. Update: No memo; but more details. From a tipster: “The raise is effective June 1. All offices. No discussion of effect on bonuses.”
At the White House:
Positions in the White House Counsel’s office are some of the most prestigious and interesting jobs in the entire legal profession. And now two new lawyers are coming on board as associate counsels to the president:
* Christopher Oprison, formerly of Skadden Arps (Washington, DC); and Cheryl Stanton, a former law clerk to then-Judge Alito, and most recently of Olgetree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart (Morristown, NJ).
The arrival of Oprison and Stanton will mean that the lawyers in the office will reshuffle their portfolios for judicial nominations. We hear that Stanton will be in charge of Fifth Circuit nominations — a subject of great interest to us.
* Also, a third lawyer — Alan Swendiman, previously general counsel of the GSA, everybody’s favorite government agency — is joining the White House staff. He’ll serve as special assistant to the President and director, Office of Administration. At Google (which is arguably more powerful than the White House these days):
* John Kent Walker Jr., formerly deputy GC of eBay, joins the search engine giant as general counsel.
Unusual structure: Walker will report to David Drummond, Google’s senior vice president of corporate development, who will take on the title of “chief legal officer.” But hey, Google is an unusual company.
Biglaw moves, after the jump.
In our post last month about the merger of Cooley Godward and Kronish Lieb, we wondered aloud: And What About Mr. Lieb? His name was unceremoniously dumped from the moniker of the new entity, which will be known as “Cooley Godward Kronish.” Ouch.
Readers have subsequently informed us of what Richard Lieb is up to these days. He can be found alive and well, teaching a full load in the Bankruptcy LLM program at St. John’s University School of Law. He also still maintains an office at the firm, where he’s a retired partner (of counsel).
It seems that the academic life agrees with Lieb, at least according to one correspondent:
[H]e puts a lot of time and attention into his courses and, based on his reputation from many years of practice, has successfully enticed numerous”‘name” bankruptcy lawyers professors and judges to come and speak to his classes. As far as I know, St. John’s is the only LLM program in bankruptcy anywhere, and Mr. Lieb still has a remarkable command of legal principles and reported case law at his fingertips.
Glad to hear it. We hope to still have command of our bowels at age 76, to say nothing of “legal principles and reported case law.”
But still, the question remains: How does Mr. Lieb feel about having his name axed post-merger? According to time-honored law firming naming principles, one would expect the post-merger entity to be called either “Cooley Kronish” (a la “WilmerHale”) or “Cooley Godward Kronish Lieb” (a la “Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman”).
Our suggestion: Just call the firm “Suri Cruise LLP.” Publicity avalanche — and massive Google traffic — guaranteed!
(That would be almost as good a firm name as our reigning favorite: Saxena White.)
Merger mania continues inside the world of Biglaw. Here’s the latest pair of firms to tie the knot:
Cooley Godward LLP, a 445-lawyer law firm known for its representation of West Coast technology companies, plans to merge with Kronish Lieb Weiner & Hellman LLP, a 110-lawyer New York firm specializing in commercial litigation, bankruptcy and white-collar defense.
The merger, which is expected to be announced today, will become effective Oct. 1. The new firm will be called Cooley Godward Kronish LLP.
Kronish who? In the Big Apple, a 110-attorney shop doesn’t count for much. There are national firms with New York branch offices bigger than that.
Cooley Godward is a much bigger firm, both in terms of headcount and reputation, than Kronish Lieb. It’s a victory for Kronish that this is being called a “merger” rather than an “acquisition,” and that the Kronish name — although not Lieb — will make its way into the new entity’s moniker.
Seems like Cooley was so desperate for a New York presence that it was willing to make such concessions. And Cooley isn’t what it once was:
During the 1990s, Cooley Godward gained a reputation as one of a handful of go-to law firms for West Coast technology companies in need of venture financing or intellectual-property help. But after the tech bubble burst in late 2000, the firm, like others that had focused on technology, struggled. Its revenue fell, and, in August of 2001, the firm laid off 86 associates. About a year later, the firm laid off 27 more.
A college graduate without student loan debt is akin to reading a kind quote about Kim Kardashian in a tabloid—it’s rare.
In the past eight years, student loan debt has nearly tripled to a whopping $1.1 trillion, and in the past 10 years, the percentage of 25-year-olds with such debt has risen from 25% to 43%
It’s gotten so bad, in fact, that New York Fed economists warned last month that the burden of student debt could stilt consumer spending by twentysomethings, as well as further hamper the recovery of the housing market and economy.
To get a better idea of what massive student loan debt (we’re talking over $100,000 massive) looks like, we talked to an attorney who graduated with a large student loan debt. We also consulted LearnVest Planning Services CFP® Katie Brewer to see just how their repayment plans stack up.
S. Fischer, 36, Attorney Graduated: 2001
How Much I Borrowed: $100,000
What I Still Owe: $45,000
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Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
Deal flow has clearly picked recently up for most US associates, counsels and partners in Hong Kong/China and Singapore. We are on the phone with a lot of these folks on a daily basis, many of whom we have known for years. Further, the head of our Asia team, Evan Jowers, and Kinney’s founder and president, Robert Kinney, frequently meet in person with leading US partners in Asia to assess their needs and keep on top of the inside scoop at as many firms as possible. The need for legal recruiting help in Asia from experienced recruiters appears to be live and well. In March, Evan and Robert were in Beijing at such meetings, in April, Evan was in Hong Kong, and for half of June Evan will be in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Thus its pretty easy for us to tell when there has been an across-the-market pick up in capital markets and corporate work.
On an average day in Asia when Evan and Robert visit firms, they typically have 5 to 9 meetings a day, mostly with US partners in the market. The reason they have these meetings is not simply because Kinney makes a lot of US attorney placements in Asia and that a particular firm may have openings; instead these are just visits with friends. After years of working together as business partners, the folks at Kinney are actually these peoples’ friends. The firms Kinney work closely with in Asia (which is just about every law firm – call us if you want to know the one firm in the world we will never place anyone with again, ever, and why) look forward to the visits, or at least act like they do. After seven years in the market, many of the client partners are former associate candidates. Also, these US partners see Kinney as a very good source of market information as well, because they know how deep their contacts are in the market and how frequently they are speaking to counterparts at peer firms.
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