As many people have pointed out, being angry over “only” a $20,000 bonus is something that most of the working world finds appalling. We get it: “spoiled whiners,” “real people are losing their jobs,” “nobody should complain about a six-figure salary,” yada, yada, yada.
But other people have pointed out that most of the working world doesn’t have $150,000 plus in educational debt to pay off before Biglaw lets you out of white-collar indentured servitude. Most associates don’t blow their bonuses on hookers and coke. (Fools!) Sadly, paying off debt is the final destination for most of the bonus cash.
So, in a way, law schools always take your bonus — at least a significant chunk of it. But maybe this year those schools got an additional tap into your bonus cash. Last week Harvard Law school released its 2007-2008 Report of Gifts. According to a tipster (I didn’t receive the report personally because I try to stay off the HLS grid; it has a lot to do with my hooker/coke/debt decisions), Half-Skadden and Skadden-Mart donated quite a lot to HLS. The report lists those two firms in the $1 million to $3 million range.
Another law firm informed associates that their hard work was worth half of what it was a year ago. Davis Polk & Wardwell is the latest firm to announce Half-Skadden bonuses.
The official DPW bonus structure is as follows:
Class of 2008: $17,500 (prorated)
Class of 2007: $17,500
Class of 2006: $20,000
Class of 2005: $22,500
Class of 2004: $25,000
Class of 2003: $27,500
Class of 2002: $30,000
Class of 2001 and senior $32,500
So much for elite law firms paying their associates at the top of the market. Instead, Cravath has succeeded in opening the door to the “thank you sir, may I have another” theory of associate retention and company morale.
It could be worse. These guys are are still getting a bigger bonus than law students who interviewed with Skadden this year. Yay seniority!
What is particularly annoying about the DPW memo is that they act like they are meeting the market with these bonuses, as if Skadden doesn’t even exist.
We are pleased to announce that associates in good standing will receive a bonus payment as outlined below. …
We thank all our associates for their diligent and skillful efforts as we support our clients in this challenging economic environment.
“Pleased to announce.” Not “horribly embarrassed that we are slavishly short-changing our associates because Daddy-Cravath said it was okay.”
We mentioned yesterday that Simpson Thacher has been chosen to advise the government on the massive $700 billion bailout plan. They were chosen on Friday and are already racking up billable hours on it.
Six other firms were approached by the Treasury, but only two expressed interest. Zach Lowe at the American Lawyer reports:
Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton confirmed Tuesday that it was one of the six firms the Treasury Department considered as candidates for a role as lead adviser on the $700 billion bailout plan.
Only two of those six firms pursued the work that eventually went to Simpson Thacher & Bartlett.
Lowe tracked down a lawyer at one of the firms that rebuffed the Treasury. The lawyer admitted it was “prime work,” but that they feared not being able to represent “regular clients on the program.” In the cost-benefit analysis, the potential billable hours to financial services companies clamoring for bailout money must outweigh the government possibilities.
But Simpson Thacher is not sweating it:
Richard Beattie, chairman of Simpson Thacher, says the Treasury did not put any pressure on the firm to drop clients and that the firm is not concerned about losing business.
“They did not say that,” Beattie says. “It’s ridiculous. We represent JPMorgan Chase and would not give up a client like that.”
AmLaw reports that Simpson’s other financial clients include Washington Mutual (now part of JPMorgan Chase), Lehman Brothers, and AIG. Given that list, we can see why the government is the more attractive client at the moment.
We’ve been providing extensive coverage of the unfolding financial crisis (as have our colleagues at our sister site, Dealbreaker). In several recent posts — see, e.g., here and here — we’ve discussed the Biglaw winners and losers with respect to the Wall Street meltdown.
One evident winner: Davis Polk & Wardwell. Several DPW sources forwarded us an email that was circulated yesterday, trumpeting how busy the firm is these days and how many engagements it has landed arising out of what the memo calls “recent financial markets matters” (aka “the late unpleasantness”).
One Davis tipster writes:
[This email] went out to all lawyers. I suppose it’s their way of saying things are pretty great at the firm. Let’s hope bonus season will confirm this view!
The supposedly internal memo reads a bit like a press release. It was sent out not by a partner but by Kevin Cavanaugh, the firm’s director of business development.
We suspect that the memo is a bit of “blog bait” from Davis Polk. Naturally, we’re happy to take it.
For the commenters who yearn to see more “ordinary” couples in the Legal Eagle Wedding Watch, we commend this pair to your attention. The groom is a radio personality, and the bride has a JD from Loyola. They seem likable and . . . ordinary. Is this the type of couple our readership craves? Should we devote one slot a week to a Tier-II couple? Designate one column a month as Ordinary Week? Please advise. (This is actually a serious question. LEWW recognizes that we can’t satisfy everyone, but we do aim to please.)
For now, we’ll to continue to celebrate the extraordinary. Our finalist couples have degrees from Harvard, Yale, NYU, Chicago, and other elite schools, some with athletic programs. All three brides toil in Manhattan law firms, and all three grooms serve humanity in important-sounding public-sector jobs. Here they are:
Wachtell may be the most prestigious firm out there (according to Vault), but it has the industry’s worst Web site, as rated by Jonathan Thrope of the American Lawyer. We’re not completely sure we trust his judgment though, since he was “sucked in” by Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice’s animated dog. We waited for it to do something cool, but it just stretched and yawned.
According to Thrope, law firms are getting more serious about online marketing and using Web sites to create a distinctive brand. In general, law firm sites strike us as fairly dry. And boring. There are a few exceptions, like the Van Winkle Law Firm’s split personality bio page. North Carolina-based Van Winkle adds a personal touch to its site with dual bios (and photos) for many of its attorneys: one with professional highlights, and another focused on hobbies and life outside of work.
Other firms experiment with offbeat advertising, but seem to be using it to recruit attorneys, not clients. Like Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle’s creation of a Facebook page, and Stoel Rives’ free-style running promo on YouTube.
Of the assortment of staid sites in the AmLaw 100, five made Thrope’s cut for the worst. Check them out after the jump.
Jingoistic competition is fun, but why should handing out medals be the sole province of the IOC? Athletes and David Rivkin should not be the only ones getting a taste of Olympic glory.
Here at ATL, we’ve put law firms on the (imaginary) field of competition and are now ready to reveal the gold medal winners in a number of sports.
After the jump, see the winners, and weigh in on which firms would be champions in sports we did not pick for prime time.
As reported last week, the Vault 2009 law firm rankings are out. You can find Vault’s ranking of the top 100 most prestigious firms here.
As observed by one astute commenter, “the prestige rankings will tell you nothing about the quality of your work experience.” In order to address this, we are relaunching a popular feature from last year: a series of open threads on the Vault 100 firms, organized in batches of five, to allow for comparative discussion (and gossip) about perks, hours, recruiting standards, firm life, etc.
We’re starting with the top five firms — and experiencing a bit of déjà vu, since the list is identical to last year’s (although the prestige scores, indicated parenthetically, have changed a little):
Overall, Latham & Watkins dominated the field, pulling in almost one fifth of all votes. Latham was the most popular choice among voters in L.A., the Bay Area, and Washington, DC, and was particularly favored by tax lawyers and litigators.
Runner-up Wachtell was actually the top choice of respondents in New York, narrowly besting Davis Polk and Latham. It was also, by far, the most popular pick among M&A lawyers, with roughly 30% of their vote.
Kirkland placed third overall, but was the top choice of Chicago respondents and patent lawyers, with almost twice as many votes as the next most popular firm in Chicago (Latham) and almost as many patent votes as the next two firms combined (Latham and Quinn).
Williams & Connolly, Ropes & Gray, and Davis Polk tied for fourth, with Ropes & Gray dominating the Boston vote, Williams & Connolly pwning DC (and gaining the second highest vote from litigators after Latham), and Davis Polk rocking the investment management scene (with Ropes & Gray running second best in that field).
Paul Hastings was the clear winner among labor & employment attorneys, winning almost 70% of the vote, and was also the most popular choice among real estate attorneys and lawyers in Atlanta.
On the Magic Circle front, Linklaters proved more popular than Allen & Overy, and was actually the most popular choice among securities lawyers. Allen & Overy was the most popular choice among structured finance attorneys.
Watch to find out what some of our subscribers received in their May box!
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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 email@example.com 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.
The last time I flapped my wings your way, I tried to make at least enough noise about your mobile phone to make you more than a little bit uncomfortable. I hope I did. If enough of us become anxious enough about the known and unknown unknowns and knowns in our mobile phones, then we can start making wise decisions about how to manage that information and its resultant investigations.
Today, I’d like to put a finer point on the last installment’s topic by asking a question that seemed to catch most attendees off-guard at a conference panel that I moderated last week: is there discoverable personal information in a mobile app? Our panelists’ answer was a uniform “yes” with one stating that, if he had to choose only one type of data that he could discover from a mobile phone, he’d choose app data. Why? Because there’s simply so much of it and because almost all of it is objective – not just user-created like an email – but machine-tracked like GPS, usage duration, log in and log out times, browsed web addresses, browsed actual addresses. Also, most of us seem to have the idea that data doesn’t actually “stick” to our mobile devices the way it “sticks” to our hard drives. Maybe there’s a disconnect based on the fact that our phones are mobile so we assume the data is mobile to?
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