* Aviation lawyer Arthur Wolk, who’s suing Overlawyered and blogger Ted Frank for libel, opposes the filing of an amicus brief signed by star legal bloggers Glenn Reynolds (Instapundit), Marc Randazza (Legal Satyricon), Ed Whelan (National Review Online), and Eugene Volokh (Volokh Conspiracy). His opposition is… kinda crazy. [Volokh Conspiracy]
* If our two recentposts on whether you should drop out of law school weren’t enough for you, here’s more. This part-time law student wants to quit, but her husband is counting on her to “make us rich.” [Reddit]
* If you’re a pot dealer with an iPhone, this app’s for you. [Gawker]
* John Wheeler, adviser to Republican presidents and Yale Law grad, R.I.P. [ABA Journal]
* Charon QC starts off the new year with an epic Blawg Review #292 — on Cicero’s birthday. [Charon QC via Blawg Review]
* Congratulations to… us! We were the top vote-getter in the News category for the ABA Journal’s fourth annual Blawg 100. Thanks to everyone who took the time to register and vote for ATL. [ABA Journal]
Jim Sandman’s article, dishing out harsh criticism of law firm associate pay raises, did not endear him to ATL readers. In a near comments clusterf**k, he was condemned as the greediest of greedy Biglaw partners (along with other epithets not fit for printing here).
Well, maybe Sandman has gotten a bad rap. After all, he was public-spirited enough to serve as president of the D.C. bar. When we met him at this party, one of many charitable functions he attends, he didn’t have horns growing out of his head.
And now we hear that he’s leaving his lucrative partnership, to toil in the considerably less profitable precincts of the D.C. public school system. He’s accepted a position as General Counsel for the District of Columbia Public Schools, and he’ll also be a member of Chancellor Michelle Rhee’s senior leadership team to the DC School Board.
Read the A&P memo announcing Sandman’s departure, from firm chairman Thomas Milch, after the jump.
It’s a busy morning, right before the big Memorial Day holiday weekend. There’s breaking news of associate pay raises from Sidley Austin, Arnold & Porter (hi James Sandman!!!), and Brown Rudnick.
The Sidley Austin memo appears after the jump. The raise to the $160K scale covers Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington. It’s retroactive to May 1.
The Arnold & Porter news was reported by The BLT: Blog of Legal Times. If you have the A&P memo, please email it to us.
We learned of the Brown Rudnick raise by email. We don’t have the memo, but our source sent us a salary table, which also appears below the fold.
Wow. Late Friday afternoon, we briefly discussed an article by D.C. bar president James J. Sandman, a partner at Arnold & Porter in Washington, bemoaning the recent associate pay raises. The article generated a strong reaction, judging from the avalanche of reader comments (75 and counting; mostly insightful, and mostly disagreeing with Sandman).
We emailed James Sandman, offering him space in ATL to offer a further defense of his article. We haven’t heard back from him yet; but if we do, we’ll let you know.
In the meantime, here’s an American Lawyer article that raises similar concerns. It’s a news rather than opinion piece, but the partners quoted in it voice sentiments similar to Sandman’s. Some excerpts:
A partner at Greenberg Traurig was meeting with attorneys from five law firms when he learned that Simpson Thacher & Bartlett had raised associate salaries across the board.
“Every BlackBerry in the room started flashing,” he recalls.
It was 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 22. At least five firms matched the next day, and by the end of the week, the sticker price for a new associate in the New York market was up for the second time in a little more than a year — to $160,000.
The raise surprised competitors and legal consultants alike and caused many to question whether another pay increase makes sense. They point out that pay isn’t associates’ main gripe (uncertain partnership prospects and grueling hours top this list). Robert Link Jr., managing partner of Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, goes even further. If improving associate morale was Simpson’s goal, says Link, the raise may do more harm than good.
A higher salary “puts more pressure on productivity and hours,” says Link, exacerbating precisely the quality-of-life issues that make junior lawyers unhappy.
“I don’t know what Simpson was thinking,” he adds.
It’s similar to Sandman’s comment:
“I don’t understand what causes a firm be the first to increase the salary of a brand-new lawyer from an already eye-popping $145,000 to $160,000. There is no competitive advantage in doing so. Other firms will surely follow suit, and the firm that led the market will quickly be indistinguishable from the rest of the pack.”
So, what WAS Simpson thinking? Discussion continues after the jump.
[F]irst-year associate salaries at big firms have gotten to a level where increases are very bad. They are bad for the law firms that pay them, for the associates who receive them, for the clients who foot the bill for them, and for the society we serve.
Sandman takes a swipe at the firm that initiated the latest round of pay raises (Simpson Thacher, cough cough):
I don’t understand what causes a firm be the first to increase the salary of a brand-new lawyer from an already eye-popping $145,000 to $160,000. There is no competitive advantage in doing so. Other firms will surely follow suit, and the firm that led the market will quickly be indistinguishable from the rest of the pack.
To read Sandman’s interesting and provocative argument against the recent raises, click here.
3. Finally, here’s the latest departure from the LIST OF SHAME: Baker & Hostetler.
From a source at the firm:
Baker Hostetler announced raises yesterday effective March 1 (for its New York office only). First-year associates will be making $160K; the managing partner didn’t say how much other classes would be making, but that associates would get letters about next week telling them what their new salary would be.
That leaves, as far as we know, just seven firms on the LIST OF SHAME.
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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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