Let’s all take a deep breath. Associate bonus season, which usually wraps up sometime in January, looks like it’s been extended well into April. This is just more proof that Biglaw firms don’t actually collude. No rational business person would want to be making decisions in April 2011 about how much to pay employees for 2010 performance.
For those trying to keep score, there seem to be the following categories of firms (roughly using a letter-grade system):
A – Firms that are paying Cravath-level spring bonuses in all offices. (Example: Cravath.) [FN1]
B – Firms that are paying Sullivan & Cromwell-level spring bonuses in all offices. (Example: S&C.)
C – Firms that are paying spring bonuses in New York but not elsewhere, like California or D.C.. (Example: Read more below.)
D – Firms that are not paying spring bonuses because their year-end bonuses beat the Cravath year-end bonuses, and they’re hoping their associates can’t add. (Example: CHECK YOUQUINN EMANUEL.)
F – Firms that are not paying spring bonuses and invite disgruntled associates to S some D if they don’t like it. (Example: Jones “We can still hear all the poors who live inside your black box” Day.)
Right now, we want to focus on Group C. Group B gets a pass because they started the spring bonus phenomenon and goddamnit we’re going to respect that. Partners at firms in Groups D & F will have to examine their own motives for why they want their associates to secretly hate them.
But Group C is weird. Why create inter-office jealousy and rage when most top firms are paying spring bonuses in all of their offices? Why look that desperate to save a little bit of money?
And you can’t spell “Weird Cost-Cutting” without White & Case…
There’s no contest today for Lawyer of the Day honors. The clear winner is Matthew Kluger, a former associate at three leading law firms, who has been charged in a massive insider trading case. Kluger stands accused of reaping more than $32 million in profit over the course of a 17-year conspiracy, which also allegedly involved a trader, Garrett Bauer. (Kluger and Bauer might not be as big as Raj Rajaratnam, who’s pretty hefty, but their supposed scheme is nothing to scoff at.)
The charges were filed by Paul Fishman, U.S. Attorney for New Jersey (disclosure: my former office). Fishman claims that Matt Kluger passed along insider information that eventually made its way, via an unnamed co-conspirator, to Garrett Bauer, who traded on it. According to the complaint, Kluger and Bauer invested more than $109 million in the scheme, which yielded profits of more than $32.2 million.
Where did Kluger allegedly obtain the inside information? From the three Biglaw firms where he once worked on M&A deals….
* Khalid Sheikh Mohammed will be tried by a military commission at Guantanamo, but John Yoo is still not satisfied. He wants to capture people and hold them indefinitely without trial proof that the Obama Administration can conduct terror trials successfully. Obviously, the elegant solution is to make KSM live in Yoo’s basement until one of them begs for an impartial arbiter. [Ricochet]
* If you ever read the warnings on your prescriptions, I think this is what you’ll see (by Jeremy Blachman). [McSweeney]
There haven’t been any VCU-style upsets in our Coolest Law Firm Bracket. That’s probably because lawyers don’t like upsets. Lawyers get paid to make sure no “surprises” happen; lawyers like things to proceed in a predictable and organized fashion. Sure, Davis Polk (ranked #5 by Vault) topped Skadden (ranked #4) in the Elite Eight. But the real surprise there is that the gargantuan-sized Skadden couldn’t whip up enough of its own people to vote it through to the next round.
As we move into the Final Four, we’ve got some intriguing match-ups. On one side of the bracket, people will have to choose whether or not making money is cooler than being attractive. On the other side of the bracket, we’ll answer the question: Is being “first” more important than being “best”?
We will have a new winner in this year’s Coolest Law Firm contest. When Above the Law first ran this bracket back in 2008, you picked Latham & Watkins as the victor. This time around, they got… Lathamed, in the first round. Cravath crushed Latham by a 60% – 40% margin. That was the second-highest margin of victory among all of the first-round match-ups.
As we move into the Elite Eight, some of our readers are asking us to give a more clear definition of what is “cool.” We respectfully decline to do so. It’s up to you to tell us what makes a top law firm cool. Is it job security, making maximum bank, prestige points? It’s really up to you. Personally I think the coolest law firm would be the one most likely to represent bad-ass clients on the correct side of moral issues, but… eeek, that’s not really what Biglaw is all about.
So bring your own prejudices to the table when you vote in the next round of the Coolest Law Firm Tournament. Use whatever reasoning makes sense to you. Just don’t go with chalk because you can’t be bothered to actually form an opinion — don’t be boring, son….
In a postcript to our detailed post speculating about the future direction of the spring bonus phenomenon, we noted “an isolated report of one firm on the S&C spring bonus scale going back and raising to the Cravath scale,” but said we required additional corroboration.
As many of you know, one of our running features here at Above the Law is Lawyer of the Day. We don’t literally name one every day, but we like to keep you informed of the famous and infamous lawyers of the world. At the end of the year, we give you guys an opportunity to vote for a Lawyer of the Year.
Apparently you guys like to vote on lawyers, so why limit the experience to once a year? Above the Law has decided to let you crown a lawyer every month. We’ll pick the nominees (going forward, feel free to submit nominees to us at email@example.com, and you’ll vote for the most deserving. There are no specific criteria — just vote for the lawyer or lawyers you think most deserve the title.
A new year, a new job. That seems to be the thinking of many within the legal profession, based on the proliferation of professional moves we have to report (and not just out of Howrey).
We’ll start with one move that’s aspirational rather than actual. Legal and political superstar Ted Cruz — the Morgan Lewispartner who heads the firm’s Supreme Court and appellate practice, and who was recently named one of the 25 greatest Texas lawyers of the past 25 years — will run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by the good senatrix Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX). Check out the announcement on his website, or read this BLT post.
Like many lawyers turned politicians, including our current president, the 40-year-old Cruz is a Harvard Law grad (and one of The Elect — Rehnquist / OT 1996). Graduates of HLS’s rival to the south, Yale Law School, tend to take more quirky paths.
That brings us to the second move of the day. YLS grad Yul Kwon — a former Second Circuit clerk and McKinsey consultant, the first Asian-American winner of Survivor, and one of People’s “sexiest men alive” (in 2006) — has left the Federal Communications Commission. Kwon served as deputy chief of the consumer and governmental affairs bureau at the Commission.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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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