We’re surprised that more people in the legal profession don’t know about Kasowitz Benson. The firm is relatively young by Biglaw standards — founded in 1993, as a spin-off from Mayer Brown — but very successful. Much of this success is traceable to the leadership of Marc Kasowitz, who continues to run the firm with an iron hand (even though it’s twenty times larger today than at its founding; it started with 18 lawyers and is now up to 350).
Earlier this week, Nate Raymond of the New York Law Journal took a detailed look at the Kasowitz firm. Let’s take a look at some of the highlights….
Thanks to the over 500 people who responded to our summer associate survey and to all the firms who participated in distributing the survey to their summer associates. We will be rolling out the updated Career Center Firm Snapshots in several weeks, but wanted to give you a sneak peak of some of the results.
Today we are highlighting the firm that had the highest response rate among summer associates: Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman, where 95 percent of summers responded. Based on the responses, we can tell that summer associates really enjoyed their summer at Kasowitz.
Summer associates raved about Kasowitz’s litigation training programs and felt that the firm really cares about training its “young lawyers to be top litigators.” In addition to working on “substantive” and “interesting” litigation work assignments, survey respondents had a great time at Yankees games and on a West Village Art Tour. While most large law firms have been trimming their summer program budgets, summer associates at Kasowitz were still enjoying $50 lunches and $100 dinners. They also attended a firm retreat at a country club in upstate New York.
Want to know more about the associate experience at Kasowitz Benson? Click here for the firm’s profile. And watch out for more summer program updates from the other Big Law Firms in the coming weeks!
* Former U.C.L.A. basketball star Ed O’Bannon has recruited some key players for his class-action lawsuit against the NCAA. [New York Times]
* Kaye Scholer’s attempt to score litigation points for Bank of America results in BofA paying a bankrupt developer’s Kasowitz Benson attorney fees. [AmLaw Daily]
* Is it okay to use unwitting customers as bait in “upskirting” sting operations? It was for a TJMaxx in upstate New York. [On Point News]
* To our surprise, those ubiquitous Classmates.com banner ads have actually convinced a good number of people to join the site. And now they’re suing for violation of their privacy. [Wired]
* The legal community — from left to right — is not happy with Liz Cheney. [Associated Press]
* Ben Roethlisberger’s 28th birthday present is a criminal investigation. [Fox]
* Patent wars. [Apple Insider]
We’re still catching up on associate bonus news. There have been some memos we’ve missed, including some from last month (technically, last year). If we haven’t reported on your firm’s bonus announcement, please email us. Don’t assume that one of your colleagues will submit the memo; that’s not necessarily the case.
Today we belatedly bring you bonus news from Kasowitz Benson. On December 31, the firm announced “benchmark” bonuses that appear to follow the Sullivan & Cromwell scale. But the memo notes that these are just “benchmark amounts, which are subject to adjustment to reflect individual performance and hours worked.” In the memo’s bonus table, the words “of up to” appear in between the words “Year-end bonus” and the dollar amount.
In addition, even some Kasowitz associates who received the full market amount aren’t happy. Find out why, and check out the full memo, after the jump.
The big decisional news out of New York today is the guilty verdict in the Brooke Astor trial. Anthony Marshall, the son of the late socialite and philanthropist, was convicted in a scheme to defraud Mrs. Astor.
But we also have news of another notable ruling. Longtime readers of Above the Law will recall the case of Jeremy Pitcock, the successful intellectual-property litigator who was fired from Kasowitz Benson in December 2007. The firm issued an unusual statement saying that Pitcock had engaged in “extremely inappropriate personal conduct.”
Pitcock sued Kasowitz for defamation. Kasowitz turned around and sued Pitcock, alleging in its complaint that he “subject[e]d at least twelve of the firm’s female employees…. to a pattern of unwelcome sexual advances.”
Now a judge has ruled in both of the cases. From Nate Raymond of the New York Law Journal:
A nearly two year-long public brawl between Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman and a former partner it fired for sexual harassment could be quieting down now that a Manhattan Supreme Court judge has dismissed both parties’ lawsuits.
Justice Martin Shulman (See Profile) last week found “unavailing” and “unpersuasive” the arguments made against the firm by intellectual property lawyer Jeremy Pitcock, who sued for defamation, breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty.
The judge also found Kasowitz Benson failed to show how Mr. Pitcock had damaged the firm.
Executive summary (or West headnote): “A pox on both your houses.”
Last week, John B. Quinn, managing partner of Quinn Emanuel, gave his “state of the firm” address. Quinn’s address made some associates feel better and more secure. Other associates were angry. But if you are interested in how partners really think, the address was pretty interesting.
Quinn takes questions during this annual address, and this year the questions quickly turned to Quinn Emanuel’s bonus structure. Quinn paid Cravath-level bonuses for associates that hit 2100 hours (while giving more money to associates who far exceeded that target).
But Quinn also showed a significant surge in profits per partner, up 11 percent from last year. So associates wondered why more of that money didn’t trickle down to the associate level. According to tipsters, John Quinn told the gathering:
He said that we could have afforded to pay the higher bonuses, and we could afford to increase everyone’s salary by 10 to 15 thousand a year, but that doing so just doesn’t make strong business sense.
When we contacted Mr. Quinn, he reiterated his position that the market, not profit numbers, sets the level for associate bonuses:
i also said that the amount of associate bonuses–for all firms, not just ours–is driven by the market, which is very efficient. and of course it’s a business decision. firms don’t base bonuses, or salaries for that matter, on “what can we afford”, but on the market. we are no different.
Of course, Quinn Emanuel isn’t the only game in town. After the jump, we learn that Mr. Quinn won’t hold it against you if you feel you can get a better deal than what his firm is offering.
Let’s start off 2009 with some good news. Litigation boutique Kasowitz Benson announced bonuses just before the New Year, and will be paying out Skadden dollars at the end of the month.
So don’t stick a fork in the New York market just yet.
Associates at Kasowitz are understandably ecstatic:
It really is a fantastic place full of extremely smart trial lawyers that sometimes litigate, as opposed to all of the other firms where litigators sometimes do trial work.
There are a couple of wrinkles. Unlike Skadden, the Kasowitz memo contains language saying that bonuses will be “up to” Skadden levels. According to the firm, individual payouts will be based on a couple of factors:
As in prior years, the above are benchmark amounts which are subject to adjustment to reflect individual performance and hours worked.
Still, our tipsters expect that most people will receive the full amount:
I have never heard of people not getting the full amounts that are stated. We are crazy busy and have been so I would say most will.
The mere opportunity to receive an above market bonus should be enough to have Kasowitz associates singing the firm’s praises well into the new year.
Some of you may recall the strange tale of Jeremy Pitcock, a successful IP litigator in New York. As we previously reported, he recently left Kasowitz Benson, where he headed the intellectual property practice, for Morgan & Finnegan. That’s par for the course, in this age of increased lateral partner movement. The weird part was that Kasowitz issued a statement, apparently in response to Morgan’s trying to tout Pitcock’s move as a hiring coup, in which Kasowitz said they fired Pitcock for “extremely inappropriate personal conduct.”
The plot thickens. A source informed us that Jeremy Pitcock is no longer at Morgan & Finnegan, which we have confirmed. His bio is no longer on the firm website, which has also been scrubbed of the press release touting his hire. If you try emailing him at his Morgan & Finnegan email address, which is the one provided in his LinkedIn profile, as we did, your message will bounce back to you.
We tried calling Jeremy Pitcock at the Morgan & Finnegan phone number listed in his profile. The nervous-sounding woman who answered the phone told us that he’s no longer with the firm, that she didn’t have forwarding information for him, and that his last day in the office was “last week.”
Did Morgan & Finnegan get rid of Pitcock after investigating the alleged “inappropriate personal conduct”? One source said it would be surprising. First, Pitcock is a superstar IP lawyer. Rumor has it that “when he left Simpson, he had a $6 million book of business, as a 6th or 7th year associate. He decided he wanted to be a partner [immediately, rather than waiting a few years,] and Kasowitz took him up on that.”
Second, some claim Morgan & Finnegan has a reputation for tolerating a certain degree of inappropriate personal conduct. One source tells us that “they aren’t known for being friendly to women — or in some cases, they’re known for being too friendly. There were partners who asked female associates on dates repeatedly and others who referred to female associates as ‘pretty young girls.’ Still others simply refused to work with women.”
We contacted the firm’s spokesperson to inquire about Pitcock’s departure; she wasn’t in, so we left a message. We haven’t heard back from her yet, but if we do, we’ll let you know.
If you have the 411, feel free to email us. Thanks. Update (2:30 PM): We just heard back from the Morgan & Finnegan spokesperson. She stated that the firm generally does not comment on internal firm matters. Update (6/6/08): Jeremy Pitcock has filed a $90 million defamation lawsuit against Kasowitz Benson. See here. Earlier: Musical Chairs: Kasowitz Attributes IP Head’s Departure to ‘Extremely Inappropriate Personal Conduct’
Jeremy Pitcock, 35, joined Kasowitz in March 2006 after being wooed from Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, where he was a senior associate. Kasowitz named him head of IP not long after. But after less than two years, Pitcock left the 200-plus-lawyer firm for 52-lawyer New York IP boutique Morgan & Finnegan.
Morgan touted Pitcock’s hiring as “an outstanding addition to our successful litigation practice” when it announced his move on January 8. But the Kasowitz firm says he was forced out following an unspecified incident.
“Mr. Pitcock was terminated for cause by Kasowitz, Benson in December 2007 because of extremely inappropriate personal conduct,” name partner Daniel Benson said in a statement.
So what prompted the firm’s statement?
Kasowitz’s statement followed the publication of an article in trade publication IP Law 360 last week, which reported that Morgan had lured Pitcock from Kasowitz. In his statement, directed toward the publication, Benson said, “It was inaccurate to use ‘nab’ in your headline, or to use ‘jump ship’ in your opening paragraph.”
“We were not looking to publicize this incident, but because of those incorrect news items, we felt compelled to set the record straight,” Benson said in a press release that the firm distributed online.
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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