* Speaking of Debevoise, I probably could have used these tips on how to resign gracefully from my former firm. Instead, I think I stood up in the middle of a conference room and started shouting, “give us, us free.” [Corporette]
* Why do law school administrators act like telling the truth is one option among many, instead of a professional responsibility? [Vault]
In terms of the Above the Law publishing schedule, it would have been nice for firms to spread out their springtime bonus announcements. Then we’d have spring bonus posts to write up throughout the entire week. In case of emergency, break glass; in case of slow news day, write spring bonus post.
Alas, with no consideration for the convenience of your ATL editors, many major firms decided to act today. This morning brought spring bonus announcements from Paul Weiss and Weil Gotshal.
And this afternoon brings spring bonus news from Debevoise & Plimpton. Congratulations, Debevoise associates; now you can spring for Château Margaux at your Valentine’s Day dinners.
The memo, plus a quick summary of which firms have paid spring bonuses at which levels, after the jump.
With so many top firms already matching Cravath — including several in the Vault’s top ten for prestige, such as Skadden, Davis Polk, and Weil Gotshal — is it less likely that Sullivan & Cromwell will try to beat Cravath, since “peer firms” are already signaling that they’d like to just stick with the CSM scale? Or is it maybe more likely, since it would make S&C look that much better in the eyes of prospective hires to trounce multiple rivals in the compensation department?
* Elizabeth Edwards has passed away, R.I.P. (Wait, John and Rielle — too soon, too soon.) [WRAL]
* During the New York Attorney General Debate, I predicted that Eric Dinallo would make a good partner at Debevoise & Plimpton. He just seemed so “nice.” Well, turns out I was spot on: Dinallo and Debevoise are a match made in nice people heaven. [Am Law Daily]
* Now that Charlie Rangel has been told he’s a naughty boy, can we get back to the whackjob known as Maxine Waters? [Dealbreaker]
* What it’s like to be addicted to M&A transactions, from the perspective of a retired Skadden partner. [Deal Journal]
* No Drama Obama gets a little bit feisty when defending his decision to extend the Bush tax cuts. In the words of Nice Guy Eddie: “You beat on this prick enough, he’ll tell you he started the Chicago fire. That don’t necessarily make it f**kin’ so.” [Business Insider]
* Back in the day, video could help the wrongly accused, just like DNA helps now. [DNAinfo]
I am getting married in December so I would love to work at a family-friendly firm. Like Elie, I’m a raging liberal, and I heard Paul Weiss seems to fit that bill. On the other hand, I want to be at a firm with plenty of lovely women. I am bi and my soon-to-be hubby doesn’t mind if I taste a woman’s sweet nectar. Plus I simply cannot live without a pair of supple breasts in my life. (My man is ripped so no manboobs for me.) I met many cute associates at Davis Polk too and I remember an ATL article that mentions the great number of hotties at DPW.
So many choices! Can you help me out?
– Paradox of Choice
Dear Paradox of Choice,
Nice try, but this question’s a flame because nobody uses the term “sweet nectar” unless they’re (1) referring to the drink Odysseus used to get the Cyclops drunk and poke his eye out, or (2) a copywriter at Cosmo. Nevertheless, we’ll answer it because it’s slim pickings around here this week, and it’s better than another snooze-alert “should I quit law school?” question. Of course you should quit law school. Don’t be ridiculous.
This thread covers the firms ranked #11 through #20. This is your chance to discuss these firms — their upsides and downsides and whether Vault got their rankings right. The Vault site has entries for each firm, similar to the Firm Snapshots in our own Career Center.
The “downers” category for most firms tends to be rather general: they treat me like a number, “long hours,” “unfun,” etc. But someone at #20-ranked White & Case had a very specific complaint about the firm’s lack of tech savvy: “The technology is very outdated. We still run Outlook 2003 and are not allowed to use iPhones. The blackberries we are given are over 2 years old and do not work well at times. The firm is not receptive to these issues.”
Little known White & Case perk: every new associate gets their own Commodore 64 for home use.
What are the reviews for the other firms in this bracket?
Last November, we scrutinized the compensation of one of America’s best-paid in-house lawyers: Gregory Palm, general counsel of Goldman Sachs. There was some nit-picking from readers about the precise size of his (pay) package, reflected in the various updates appended to the post, but there was unanimity on the main point: serving as Goldman’s top lawyer is a path to riches.
Over the weekend, the New York Times published a long, interesting, behind-the-scenes look at the negotiations between Goldman and the SEC that culminated in the bank’s $550 million settlement — negotiations in which Greg Palm played a leading role. For some good commentary on Louise Story’s article, check out Larry Ribstein (who sees the case as a strike suit that just happened to be brought by the SEC).
What we found most intriguing about the NYT piece — which weighed in at a hefty 3,200 words, as noted by the WSJ Law Blog — was the delicious dish about Gregory Palm’s pay….
For the past five years, Yale Law School has produced a list of the top “family friendly” law firms. And for the past five years, men have acted like “family” issues are something only women need to worry about.
Maybe that’s true if you are a committed bachelor who never intends to procreate or know the love of a real woman. Maybe that’s true if you subscribe to some kind of 1950′s television ideal where the man works and the woman is exclusively a stay-at-home mom. Mind the pool boy, fellas.
But the majority of men will one day marry and spawn. In many cases, they’ll marry a woman of equal career ambitions. At that point, being able to take some paternity leave might be very important. Maybe their wife won’t even be a lawyer, and thus make more money than her husband (have you seen what legal salaries are like these days). Most likely we will see more and more male primary care givers, and the firms will have to adjust. We’ve heard a lot about the “mommy track,” in our professional lifetimes one expects the “daddy track” to become just as important.
So which firms are already ahead of the family friendly curve?
Is suing a former client for unpaid bills a wise idea? Maybe not. As John Marquess, president of Legal Cost Control, told the New York Law Journal, “If I were advising any law firm, I would tell them suing a client over fees is a no-win situation. It’s going to get you adverse publicity you may or may not recover from. And if it went before a jury, juries hate lawyers.”
And what if your ex-client is, say, a green company devoted to the cause of sustainable forestry? Going after that client seems like an even worse idea from a PR perspective. Al Gore would not approve.
But Debevoise & Plimpton decided to move forward anyway with its $6 million lawsuit for unpaid fees (see last item). Now the firm is on the receiving end of some unpleasant counterclaims. From Am Law Litigation Daily:
On Wednesday morning, Debevoise’s erstwhile client, Candlewood Timber Group, filed an answer and counterclaims against Debevoise, seeking damages of $55 million. And some of Candlewood’s allegations about its former law firm aren’t very flattering….
Candlewood now asserts that Debevoise made critical errors, missed major points, and billed excessively for the work of inexperienced lawyers. The firm’s deficiencies, according to Candlewood, forced the company to accept less in a settlement than it should have. The company’s counterclaim contrasts Debevoise with Candlewood’s Delaware counsel–Bouchard, Margules & Friedlander—which successfully represented the company for two-and-half years at a total cost of $450,000. “Over a 10-month pretrial and trial period–during which time D&P had the assistance of BM&F and later Susman–D&P managed to bill for more than 15,000 hours, the equivalent of 10 lawyers working full-time for the ten-month period,” Candlewood’s counterclaim alleges.
Fifteen thousand hours? Not bad. It may not be a Siemens, but this is still the kind of matter that should throw off millions in fees (too bad for Debevoise that they weren’t paid, at least not in full).
More about Candlewood’s claims — plus highlights from the retainer letter, including D&P billing rates — after the jump.
* Facebook rules for judges in Florida. They can be on Facebook but they can’t friend the lawyers who appear before them. It’s not clear whether the Florida Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee approves of poking. [Legal Profession Blog]
* Surprise! It was a bad year for law firms. [Bloomberg]
* Michigan attorney Murdoch Hertzog, 83, has been suspended for offering clients the option to pay their bills via “the couch of restitution.” He still denies the allegation. His defense is that he’s too old — at this age, he prefers money to sex. [Detroit News]
* Was prominent L.A. attorney Jeffrey Tidus murdered or did he commit suicide? [Associated Press]
* San Diego Charger linebacker Shawne Merriman wants to make a line of t-shirts with Wal-Mart, but his brand has been tainted by former girlfriend Tila Tequila. He’s suing her for falsely accusing him of attacking her, drugging and sleeping with minors and making illegal drugs. But his suit is not about defamation; it’s about “copyright and trademark infringement and dilution, intentional interference with contract and unfair competition.” [Courthouse News Service]
* Timber! That’s the sound of a $6 million lawsuit filed by Debevoise falling on a client who doesn’t want to pay its bill. [ABA Journal]
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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.
In a land that is right here and in a time that is right now, a technology has arisen so powerful that it can replace basic human document review. Is it time to bow down before our new robot overlords?
First, here’s a little story about me: my life in the legal world began as a paralegal. My first case was a GIANT patent infringement case that was already six years old and had involved as many as five companies, multiple US courts, the ITC and an international standards committee. I knew nothing about any of this.
On my first day, my supervisor (a paralegal with at least eight other cases driving her crazy) sat me down in front of a Concordance database with a 100,000+ patents and patent file histories. “Code these,” she said. I learned that “coding”, for the purposes of this exercise, meant manually typing the inventor’s name, the title of the patent, the assignee, the file date, and other objective data for each document. I worked on that project – and only that project – for at least the first six months of my job. After a week or so, time began to blur.
What I know, in retrospect and with absolutely certainty, is that as time began to blur, so did my judgment. So did my attention to detail. If you could tell me that I did not make at least one mistake a day – one inconsistent spelling, one reversed day and month, one incorrectly spaced title – I frankly would need to see your evidence. I would not believe it. The human mind is trainable but it is not a machine.
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