* 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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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