Apparently Sullivan & Cromwell is no longer the only Biglaw shop paying a $50,000 clerkship bonus. According to multiple sources, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett — which in January kicked off the latest round of base salary increases for associates — has followed suit.
If S&C were the only member of the $50K club, competitor firms could afford not to follow suit. We agree with what this tipster had to say (prior to the Simpson Thacher match):
“What I gather from this general reluctance on the part of NY firms to match S&C’s $50K clerkship bonus is that there’s an emerging view within the legal market that S&C’s decision to ‘surge’ their bonus rate is, in some sense, an anticipation that they’re going to have a tough recruiting season this fall.”
“This clerkship bonus craze has nothing to do with clerks — and anyone who thinks otherwise is mistaken. What firms do care about is a bunch of newbie 2Ls (who are a month or so away from wrapping up 1L year right now), with nothing more than a pedestrian understanding on how Firm A differs from Firm B, going to S&C’s website and seeing that they offer $50K and then going to, say, Davis Polk’s and seeing that they offer less than a third of that.”
“My hunch is that if one more top firm matches S&C, then the rest will soon follow. The big question is who moves first — and when.”
We concur in this analysis. Now that Simpson has joined Sullivan & Cromwell, resisting the clerkship bonus trend will prove more difficult (at least for other top ten New York firms). Expect places like Cravath, Davis Polk, and Cleary Gottlieb to fall into line.
Have you heard of anyone else matching? Please email us (subject line: “Clerkship Bonus”). Thanks. Earlier: Skaddenfreude: A Clerkship Bonus Special Report
We had previously suggested that Deputy Attorney General Paul J. McNulty — who by someaccounts is the one who REALLY screwed up in the U.S. Attorneys firing fiasco — might be leaving the Justice Department. It looks like our prediction may come to pass.
Rule No. 1 inside the Beltway: “If they don’t deny it, then it’s true.” (Rule No. 2: “Even if they do deny it, it’s probably still true.”)
Applying Rule No. 1, Paul McNulty is leaving the DOJ. From the BLT:
Is Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty looking for a new job? Yes, said the Wall Street Journal yesterday, citing “people familiar” with his plans. McNulty himself was a bit more sanguine, telling the Journal he was “fully focused on doing my job and haven’t given much thought to what comes next.”
McNulty chose not to knock the story down today. During a brief interview with Legal Times following a speech to a legal panel about the Thompson Memo and corporate fraud, McNulty was asked if he was looking for a new job. McNulty responded, after a pause: “I can’t answer that.”
Yesterday we issued a request for information about what really happened between controversial legal scholar Kiwi Camara and George Mason University School of Law. GMU was on the verge of hiring Camara, until something weird happened.
Today one of you emailed us the video clip below, and asked: “Could it be because of this video?”
Seriously, we’re pretty sure this video — a promotional spot for the debate team Camara coaches, and NOT a homemade sex video — had no impact upon Camara’s job search. But it’s still weirdly amusing. And we don’t think that Camara, of all people, should be caught on camera saying “Yo whassup!” in an accent reminiscent of the “jive talk” scene from Airplane.
From the description of the clip on Google Video: “Kiwi Camara, Mountain View/Los Altos Debate squad coach acts a little weird…”
That’s what the student group discussed in this WSJ Law Blog post should be renamed.
Here’s our candid take. A lot of what these students are looking for — in terms of reduced hours and improved work-life balance, in exchange for a smaller paycheck — already exists. It can be found by working for a midsize or small law firm, working for government, working as in-house counsel, or starting your own practice.
But it’s futile to try and export these principles to large law firms. There’s a reason they call it “Biglaw.” If you want the money and prestige of working for an AmLaw 100 law firm, you need to make sacrifices.
The members of Law Students Building A Better Legal Profession may respond: “Well, we ARE willing to make sacrifices. As we state in our manifesto, ‘We are willing to be paid less in exchange for a better working life.’”
Okay, fine. So why don’t you hang up your own shingle, or go work for a midsize or boutique law firm? We hear Gallion & Spielvogel is accepting resumes.
In other words: Why do you feel entitled to a specific work/life balance in the context of a large law firm? Why can’t you just practice in some other professional context? Or leave the law altogether if you find something you enjoy more?
News flash: there is life, and legal practice, outside of the AmLaw or Vault 100. Hundreds of thousands of American lawyers work as solo practitioners, for midsize or small firms, for in-house legal departments, or for state or federal government. They have happy professional and personal lives. They earn enough to feed themselves — and even their kids, too.
But if some attorneys WANT to work 2500+ hours a year, never see their families, and go through multiple divorces, in exchange for seven-figure paydays, who are you to spoil their fun?
Maybe you don’t enjoy smoking, or drinking, or sky-diving. But if these activities don’t affect you — secondhand smoke isn’t that much of a problem, thanks to indoor smoking bans — then you should let other people engage in them.
Live and let live, we say. Live and let live. You Say You Want a Big-Law Revolution [WSJ Law Blog] Law Students Building A Better Legal Profession [official website]
Today’s Washington Post has an update on controversial legal scholar Kiwi Camara (at right). Camara, you may recall, is the legal Doogie Howser who was 16 when he entered Harvard Law School. At HLS, he caused an uproar after dropping the N-bomb in a group outline. (That’s the Cliffs Notes version; Google him for more.)
From the Post:
Camara, a native Filipino who grew up in Hawaii and enrolled at Harvard Law School at age 16, had been on track to become an assistant professor at George Mason University’s law school. But his candidacy was derailed after the law school’s dean, Daniel D. Polsby, publicized the possible appointment so he could hear what students had to say before making a final decision.
But Camara’s appointment wasn’t scuttled because of the town hall meeting. That meeting never took place:
At George Mason’s law school, the faculty had authorized Polsby to hire Camara as an assistant professor, but the dean wanted to first see what students, alumni and others thought. He scheduled a town hall meeting for last night, but the meeting was nixed after Camara’s application was withdrawn.
Why was Camara’s application withdrawn? Did it have anything to do with his controversial past? A tipster tells us no:
It has come to my attention that the derailment of Kiwi Camara’s appointment as associate professor at GMU did not occur because of his checkered past. Rather, there appears to be an independent reason, but insiders have refused to reveal what that is. I am not sure if it is worth soliciting info on this from the abovethelaw readership, but I thought I would pass it on to you.
* Senator Brownback doesn’t include women of reproductive age in his litany. But you can’t protect everyone, can you? [Mirror of Justice]
* I once sent out letters like this to production companies, volunteering my script-reading services, and one guy took the time to tell me to f*%k myself because what the hell did I know about scripts. But I’m sure this guy will have much better luck. [Prettier Than Napolean]
* Let’s all be thankful that cosmos weren’t served. My gender-neutral marketing and client development strategy would be to recruit only hot associates of both genders and all sexual orientations, and pimp them out to clients as appropriate. [WSJ Law Blog via Professor Bainbridge]
* Looks like it’s every man for himself. [Overlawyered]
A juicy rumor started making the rounds yesterday. The claim was that Cardozo Law School had “uninvited” Sullivan & Cromwell, of Charney v. S&C fame, from participating in on-campus recruiting.
We received a few inquiries about it, so we decided to do some follow-up. We first contacted Kurt Rose, Cardozo’s recruitment program coordinator. He told us that he “cannot comment on that,” but referred to us to Susan Davis, a law school spokesperson.
Rose’s “no comment” got us all excited. Might we have a nice little scoop on our hands?
But when we spoke to Ms. Davis, she denied the rumor emphatically, saying there is “no truth to it at all.” She also mentioned that she received a call about it the other day and was mystified as to the origin of this gossip, since “it’s not true, no way, no how.”
So relax, Cardozo grads. S&C will still show up in person to reject you.
P.S. Cardozo is a fine law school, with many distinguished graduates — including one of our favorite bloggers, immigration lawyer Lavi Soloway. Soloway is being honored at an alumni reception tonight, where he and his law firm partner, Noemi Masliah, will receive the E. Nathaniel Gates Awarrd.
But Cardozo does not have a great record of sending its grads on to Sullivan & Cromwell (hence our quip). According to the S&C website, the firm has only one Cardozo graduate: Jeffrey Kaplan, who works in S&C’s D.C. office. In contrast, Cravath has six Cardozo lawyers: four regular associates, and two “discovery attorneys.” Weil Gotshal has four partners and one counsel who are Cardozo grads (and presumably a number of Cardozo associates; but associate bios didn’t come up in a search for Cardozo on the Weil website). Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law – Career Services [official website]
Over at Kenyon & Kenyon, the prominent intellectual property law firm, it’s the best of times — and the worst of times.
It’s the best of times for incoming associates, who will be earning the new market rate of $160,000. It’s the worst of times for the ex-Kenyon associates who are now looking for jobs.
Our take is that Kenyon is trying to keep up with the Simpson Thachers (or Fish & Richardsons) of the world, but getting winded by the effort. Yes, it’s raising salaries; but it’s not doing so until much later in the year. And it’s shedding associates at the same time, maybe to free up the payroll for raises.
Here are the details:
1. The firm is raising salaries for entering associates, but it’s not doing so until September 1. Here’s the email:
From: Birde, Patrick Sent: Wed 2/28/2007 3:48 PM To: ~Attorneys (All) Subject: NOTICE: Re: $160k Entry Salary
This is to advise you that our first year associate salary will be raised to $ 160K effective Sept. 1, 2007. Also, the Firm is in the process of revising the pay structure including the bonus system for all Associates and Counsel.
2. The firm has laid off associates. On January 11, the firm laid off 16 lawyers, according to partner Patrick Birde (who kindly responded to a fact-checking email we sent to him).
3. There was a rumor going around that the layoffs were made without warning. But according to Birde, this is incorrect:
[S]ome of the attorneys involved were already on probation and others were aware of issues with the firm brought to light during the review process.
4. The firm informed these 16 individuals that their names would remain on the firm website until March 15. (We’re guessing this was done to facilitate their job searches.)
So that’s the 411 on Kenyon. Feel free to discuss this news — or other associate compensation developments, since our last open thread was a while ago — in the comments.
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.
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When Chintan Panchal decided to leave a global BigLaw partnership to start his own firm, he could only hope that he would face the high-quality problem of firm building that many had cautioned him about. Focused on the uncertainty surrounding of a new firm launch, he decided to tackle staffing needs, IT challenges, and financial planning requirements after he had built up his legal practice.
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