Pro bono work is often an afterthought in the minds of attorneys who have more important things to do with their time — things like “churn[ing] that bill, baby!” But for others, it’s a commitment to fulfilling the very concept their naive and idealistic law school applications were premised upon: helping the people who need it most.
We know lawyers like rankings, so we thought we’d provide you with a way to measure a firm’s prestige and beneficence, all at the same time. Out of all of the Biglaw firms in the United States, which five are filled with the most worthy do-gooders? Let’s find out…
This infographic comes to us courtesy of LLM Info. Congrats if your firm is considered a pro bono all-star!
Let us give thanks to all the talented attorneys who leave Biglaw partnerships to serve as federal judges. First, this type of public service, often made at significant financial sacrifice, is in the legal profession’s finest traditions. Second, by throwing their hats into the federal judicial ring, these nominees let us ogle their personal finances — a subject of keen interest, and one that’s less than perfectly transparent.
Last month we used a pair of Ninth Circuit nominations to gain insight into partner pay at Munger Tolles & Olson. Today we use a D.C. district court nomination as a vehicle for looking at profits per partner at two other elite law firms, Baker Botts and Covington & Burling….
Casey Cooper, a partner in the D.C. office of Covington & Burling, has an amazing résumé. After graduating summa cum laude from Yale and with distinction from Stanford Law School, he clerked on the D.C. Circuit for the legendary Abner Mikva (a huge feeder judge back in the day). After serving in the Justice Department as special assistant to the Deputy Attorney General, he joined the Miller, Cassidy, Larroca & Lewin (an amazing boutique; may it rest in peace). He made partner at Miller Cassidy and then became a partner at Baker Botts when much of Miller Cassidy got absorbed by that firm. (His father in law is Bill Jeffress, one of the nation’s top litigators, who also moved from Miller Cassidy to Baker Botts.)
Cooper practiced at Baker Botts for more than a decade before moving in 2012 to Covington, his current professional home. Now he’s nominated for a judgeship in Washington’s federal district court (D.D.C.), one of the nation’s most important trial courts (up there with the S.D.N.Y.). This has required him to open the financial kimono, as noted by The BLT:
Cooper reported $1.2 million in partnership income at Baker Botts in 2011, when the company reported $1.39 million profits per partner as part of the Am Law 100 survey. At the time, he had been with Baker Botts for 11 years, the first nine in the Washington and then in the London office starting in 2010.
Interesting. People sometimes wonder about the accuracy of Am Law’s law firm financial data, which in some cases comes from the firms and in some cases gets estimated. In the case of Baker Botts, the information seems fairly accurate — as a midlevel partner, Cooper made a little under the average PPP.
He jumped to Covington’s London office in February 2012 to boost the firm’s anti-corruption and white-collar practices. He reported $847,156 in partnership income in 2012, and $702,786 in 2013 through July. That would put him on pace to make at least $1.2 million in 2013, about what the firm showed for profits per partner in 2012.
So it looks like Cooper took something of a financial hit when he initially moved from Baker Botts to Covington, but seems to be on track to make up for it in 2013. According to the latest Am Law 100 rankings, Covington had $1.265 million in 2012 profits per partner, an increase of 5.4 percent over 2011.
Does he have any future income or deferred compensation coming his way, a la Debevoise-partner-turned-SEC-chair Mary Jo White ($500,000 a year), or Cravath-partner-turned-S.D.N.Y.-judge Katherine Forrest ($380,000 a year)? Maybe a little, but nothing huge, based on what he wrote in his Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaire:
But Cooper isn’t hurting for cash. Perhaps the most notable aspect of his financial disclosure is his delicious net worth: $8.5 million, including $3.1 million in real estate assets and $5.7 million in securities. For someone turning 47 in 2013 (he was born in 1966), closing in on an eight-figure net worth is impressive.
Good luck to the eminently qualified Casey Cooper in the confirmation process. He won’t get richer if his nomination goes through, but the D.D.C. bench certainly will.
* Shine bright like A. Diamond: Howrey’s bankruptcy trustee has secured yet another multimillion dollar settlement for the defunct firm from places like Covington, Kirkland, and Shearman. [Am Law Daily]
* If for some reason you’re still shocked that GCs are breaking up with their Biglaw boyfriends, here’s some additional info on why corporate clients are moving from Biglaw to “big enough” law. [Corporate Counsel]
* Man, this LL.M. program seems like the best of both worlds for foreign students. They can learn U.S. law without ever being with stepping on U.S. soil. Thanks USC Law! [National Law Journal]
* Three more states could legalize gay marriage by the end of the year, making the marriage equality movement 17 states strong, plus D.C. Here’s to an extra fabulous new year. [GovBeat / Washington Post]
* Sort of, not really spoiler alert: Saul Goodman apparently left New Mexico and joined Covington’s D.C. office. That’ll be a good fit. [Legal Cheek]
* There’s a Broadway version of A Time to Kill? And Fred Thompson is in it, because this is a lot better than putting in that modicum of effort it takes to mount a campaign for president. [A Time to Kill on Broadway]
* A bestselling author is suing USC for discrimination. I find that hard to believe. If USC turned any discriminating eye toward hiring, they wouldn’t employ Lane Kiffin. [Courthouse News Service]
* Check out the new book by former firm partner Liz Brown about the process of leaving the legal profession. [Life After Law (affiliate link)]
* A humorous take on the Supreme Court’s preparations for the new term. Justice Ginsburg is basically a Time Lord. [McSweeney's]
* Class certification is denied for the Thomas Jefferson School of Law grads alleging the school misled them with false and inaccurate employment statistics. The case was doomed from the beginning, because there’s nothing “typical” about TJSL students! [San Diego Courts]
* Lawyers defending the accused rapists of a Naval Academy Mid asked the victim to describe her oral sex technique, if she “felt like a ‘ho,’” and if she wore underwear. The goal was to teach Afghanistan to be more like the U.S., not to teach the Navy to be more like the Taliban. [Jezebel]
* Jamie McCourt, a former family law attorney, strikes out in trying to set aside her divorce settlement with Frank McCourt, former owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers. She’s stuck with $131 million and several luxury homes. #richpeopleproblems [National Law Journal (sub. req.)]
* An inquest reveals that a Hogan Lovells partner who took his own life had warned a colleague that he was going to kill himself the day before his death. [Daily Mail via ABA Journal]
* If you’re in New York this weekend, go see Arguendo. Or buy tickets for the 7 p.m. performance on September 22, when I’ll be doing a talkback with artistic director John Collins after the show. Enter the discount code “ABOVE” for $35 tickets (a special rate for ATL readers). [Public Theater]
Back in June, we got a chance to see an absolutely great response to a cease and desist letter. The author of that response letter, Stephen B. Kaplitt, is an Above the Law folk hero for kicking off his response to an unnecessarily threatening C&D with “obviously [this] was sent in jest, and the world can certainly use more legal satire,” before systematically ripping the opposing attorneys a new one.
Now comes another great response to a C&D letter, and this one may even be better because of the firm on the receiving end.
Greg Thatcher has a website that takes Routing Numbers and publishes them in an easily searchable form online.
Then Nigel L. Howard of Covington & Burling wrote a C&D on behalf of Bizarro ABA threatening Greg Thatcher with legal action. It was the pretty standard collection of vague, trumped up threats you’d expect.
Even that we have trouble buying. There isn’t any copyright notice on the download. And you must be aware that information itself isn’t copyrightable. It just isn’t. In fact, there was a case this real important Court decided back in the early ’90s that was about telephone numbers. In that case, a company just took a local phone book and copied it exactly. The publisher of the phone book knew that the company had copied it because the publisher had popped some phony names in there. No kidding, right? And so the publisher sued the thieving company it caught red-handed. And the thieving company won because it was just information.
 And we went to law school, which just illustrates how gullible we are.
 No matter how much one might want it to be. Even if one wants it like the Spice Girls want a “zigazig ha.”
 Feist Publications, Inc., v. Rural Telephone Service Co., 499 U.S. 340 (1991).
 I know, right? I remember reading this case and being all like, No way!
He also rips up ABA’s claim to copyright of the whole Routing Number when most of the number is not even generated by the ABA. Oops.
Along the way, we learn that Delaney’s office has lollipops, which is a nice touch. It allows Delaney to tell Covington & Burling to “suck it!” without getting rude.
Washington, D.C. has the most densely concentrated population of lawyers in the nation. The capital has an astounding 1,356 percent more lawyers per capita than New York. One in 12 District residents is an attorney. The nation’s capital is home to just one-fifth of one percent of the national population but accounts for one in every 25 of its lawyers. Could there be some correlation between this total saturation of D.C. with J.D.s and the seeming contempt that the rest of the country holds for the place? Washington’s negative perception problem is such that Slate’s political gabfest felt compelled to devote this week’s podcast to explore the proposition “Washington Is Really Not That Bad.” Examples of this not-badness included the fact that people don’t have to bribe officials to get their social security benefits. So it was kind of a low bar.
In any event, D.C.’s lawyers work in myriad capacities in Congress, government regulatory agencies, non-profits, and lobbying firms. But obviously Washington is very much a Biglaw town as well. The frustration and malaise brought on by the sequester and partisan gridlock seem to be affecting the business of Biglaw. As Lat noted yesterday, large firms there are struggling: revenue, demand and productivity are all lagging at D.C.-based law firms when compared to firms nationwide. So this might not be the ideal time to check in on how lawyers at large D.C.-based firms perceive their professional experiences. But we’ll do it anyway.
Our ATL Insider Survey (13,500+ responses and counting) asks attorneys at firms to evaluate their employers in terms of compensation, hours, training, morale, and culture. After the jump, we’ll look at how firms in Washington stack up in these categories — and how they compare to the national averages…
The Insider Survey asks respondents to rate their firms in each category on a scale of 1 through 10 (with 10 being the best). Please keep in mind that we only publish rating for firms for which we have sufficient survey responses. Obviously, there are major firms missing. So, lawyers at, say, Williams and Connolly or Wiley Rein, or any other firm left out here, please take our survey here and we’ll revisit D.C. when we compile more information.
1. Steptoe and Johnson 9.00
2. Arent Fox 7.83
3. Crowell and Moring 7.25
4. Hogan Lovells 7.05
5. Patton Boggs 7.00
6. WilmerHale 6.72
7. Covington and Burling 6.43
8. Arnold and Porter 6.42
D.C Average: 7.21
National Average: 7.17
1. Steptoe and Johnson 8.0
1. Arent Fox 8.0 (tie)
3. Hogan Lovells 7.05
4. Covington and Burling 6.87
5. WilmerHale 6.76
6. Patton Boggs 6.0
7. Arnold and Porter 5.83
8. Crowell and Moring 5.75
D.C Average: 6.78
National Average: 7.18
1. Steptoe and Johnson 8.30
2. WilmerHale 7.52
3. Covington and Burling 7.30
3. Hogan Lovells 7.30 (tie)
5. Arnold and Porter 7.08
6. Patton Boggs 7.0
6. Arent Fox 7.0 (tie)
8. Crowell and Moring 5.88
D.C Average: 7.17
National Average: 7.09
Culture and Colleagues
1. Arent Fox 9.00
2. Steptoe and Johnson 8.60
3. Covington and Burling 8.35
4. Patton Boggs 8.0
4. Hogan Lovells 8.0 (tie)
5. WilmerHale 7.68
6. Crowell and Moring 7.50
7. Arnold and Porter 7.42
D.C Average: 8.06
National Average: 7.99
1. Steptoe and Johnson 8.24
This firm is great about treating associates like professionals. Face time is a non-issue — as long as you get your work done, the partners are flexible about where the work gets done.
2. Arent Fox 7.83
A very open, welcoming, liberal, diverse culture. Supportive of minorities and very family-friendly.
3. Hogan Lovells 7.43
It is all about the culture. The number of a-hole partners is low and associates are genuinely valued.
4. Covington and Burling 7.32
Covington is a really pleasant place to work. The people are great, and as long as the work that needs to get done is getting done, people are very understanding about the fact that everyone wants a life outside of the firm. It’s a bit less social than a lot of other firms, which actually helps with having a life outside the firm — people spend their nights and weekends at home, not at the firm.
4. Patton Boggs 7.32
For each of the three years I have been at the firm, my year-end bonus has been higher than the lockstep bonuses doled out by New York firms.
6. WilmerHale 7.22
Wilmer is great. Colleagues whose significant others work at other big firms in town know that Wilmer is a more friendly and collegial BigLaw experience. All while working on front page matters with well-known partners. All around first-rate. Recruiting is very selective.
7. Arnold and Porter 6.77
[A]ssociate partner relationships the single most important factor in determining the types of cases and work you get. For the most part, great people to work with.
8. Crowell and Moring 6.53
Pros: hands on experience for junior attorneys, opportunities to write substantive pleadings, generally nice people and a clear value for pro bono. Cons: compensation is a bit of a black box process with minimal transparency.
D.C Average: 7.33
National Average: 7.38
So congrats to Steptoe and Johnson for the highest overall rating. (Just don’t confuse them with this firm, they hate that.) Comparing the D.C. average ratings to the national averages, what’s striking is how closely they track. In five out of six categories, the D.C. ratings are within a tenth of point of the national averages. The one exception? Firm morale, which is significantly lower.
Finally, for those of you who have yet to do so — whether in D.C. or elsewhere — please take a few minutes and take the ATL Insider Survey. Thank you.
Ed. note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts on lateral partner moves from Lateral Link’s team of expert contributors. Today’s post is written by Nicholas Goseland, a Director at Lateral Link, where he oversees attorney placements and client services in California and Asia.
Seeking to chart a course for China, Fenwick & West recently moved quickly to recruit a pair of corporate partners, Eva Wang and Carmen Chang (who will serve as a part-time advisor), to spearhead the firm’s new office in Shanghai. The move is already paying dividends.
Less than two months after her arrival, Wang, who once served as VP and general counsel of Spreadtrum Communications Inc. (NASDAQ: SPRD), has secured a mandate to represent Spreadtrum in its announced acquisition by Tsinghua Unigroup Ltd. for $1.78 billion. The deal will present numerous cross-selling opportunities for Fenwick partners in the coming year and generate a lucrative stream of fees for the firm, which has already assigned 16 attorneys to the matter….
To understand the genesis of this move, we need to look back to August 2010, when crosstown rival Wilson Sonsini elevated Weiheng Chen to serve as the lead partner for the firm’s new Hong Kong office. The addition of Chen, a Sullivan & Cromwell and Milbank alum, marked a departure from the firm’s traditional PE/VC platform and a clear pivot toward high-end M&A and securities work. Chen wasted no time implementing the new strategy, bringing in Kefei Li from Skadden as a partner in 2011, followed by Zhan Chen from Davis Polk in 2012.
However, not everyone was satisfied with the shift. Within one year of Chen’s arrival, nearly every member of Wilson Sonsini’s Shanghai office, including then-Asia head Carmen Chang and Eva Wang, left the firm to join Covington & Burling. Nearly one year later, Fenwick becomes the unintended beneficiary of that departure, acquiring from Covington both Wang and the Spreadtrum/Tsinghua deal, which, ironically, is the very type of transaction Wilson Sonsini’s new strategy is designed to target.
Fenwick’s recent move demonstrates how pivotal – and, in some cases, immediately impactful — a lateral addition can be to a firm’s growth. For that matter, so does Wilson Sonsini’s, which has fared well since adding Chen — recently opening an additional office in Beijing and securing a seat on the panels of several high profile state-owned enterprises in China. With the success both firms have enjoyed, along with the recent uptick in deal activity between SV and China, it’s no surprise we continue to hear from peer firms with similar ambitions. We expect this trend to continue.
Disclosure: This series is sponsored by Lateral Link, which is an ATL advertiser.
Lateral Link LLP is one of the largest legal recruiting agencies in the world, with 13 offices in the United States and Asia. Lateral Link has been recognized by the Wall Street Journal, The American Lawyer, the ABA Journal, the Daily Journal, and the National Law Journal for its innovative approach to legal placement. Lateral Link recruiters are former practicing attorneys who have consistently succeeded in placing partners, associates, general and corporate counsel into some of the most reputable law firms and organizations in the world.
* When it comes to the Affordable Care Act’s contraception coverage mandate, corporate personhood only goes so far. Religious freedoms apply to human beings, not their businesses, and the Third Circuit agrees. [New York Times]
* According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the legal sector added 2,800 jobs in July after major losses in the two months prior. We’re sure that the eleventy billion members of the class of 2013 will be very pleased. [Am Law Daily]
* Not a Nigerian scam: Biglaw firms in Washington, D.C. — like Covington & Burling, Greenberg Traurig, and Williams Mullen — are busy chasing business in Africa. [Capital Business / Washington Post]
* A New Jersey municipal judge faces ethics charges due to his “extra-judicial activities” with an exotic dancer. It seems she appeared before him in his courtroom and in his bed. [New Jersey Law Journal]
* Tawana Brawley, the woman who dragged a New York prosecutor into an elaborate rape hoax (complete with race-baiting), is finally making payments on a defamation verdict. [New York Post]
* “Either I’m a stupid lawyer, or I’m stupid for thinking the court will enforce the rights of guys.” Former Cravath attorney and men’s rights advocate Roy Den Hollander is at it again. [New York Daily News]
* Morehouse College will be the fifth undergraduate school in the nation to publish a law journal. This is basically a case study in what it means to begin law school gunning while in college. [Daily Report]
* As we wait for the biggest cases of this term, the question that seems to be on everyone’s minds is: “What would Justice Kennedy do?” We might find out the answer today if we’re lucky. [New Yorker]
* At least we know what Justice Kennedy wouldn’t do. He’d never disrespect his elders like Justice Alito did yesterday after rolling his eyes at Justice Ginsburg while on the bench. [Washington Post]
* Meanwhile, although the Supreme Court punted an important affirmative action ruling yesterday, Jen Gratz’s life has been defined by a more meaningful one made about a decade ago. [Washington Post]
* It’s not what you know, it’s who you know: Covington, the firm where ex-DOJ lawyers go to make money, is representing some very big tech companies in their dealings with the NSA. [Am Law Daily]
* Fox Rothschild picked up a small Denver firm to reach a “critical mass” of attorneys in its new office and offer full service. FYI, “full service” in Colorado means weed law now, you know. [Legal Intelligencer]
* “[G]iven the significant decline in law school applications,” Cincinnati Law is pushing for a 30 percent tuition and fees reduction for out-of-state students. That’s a step in the right direction. [WCPO ABC 9]
* This guy had the chance to go to law school, and I bet he’s really kicking himself now after choosing to be a member of the Boston Red Sox bullpen instead. Poor kid, he could’ve had it all. [MassLive.com]