Regular readers of this blog know that you cannot discharge student loan obligations through bankruptcy absent a showing of undue hardship. If you go broke borrowing money for expensive cars, houses, and monkeys/butlers, no problem, file for bankruptcy and start over. But if you go broke trying to better yourself through education, the government will make you beg and prove that you are sad and hopeless. Wonderful system we’ve got here.
We’ve also talked about how many people who might be eligible for undue hardship on their student debts don’t even try. The system is daunting and complicated, and I’ve argued that prostrating yourself in front of a bankruptcy court and letting them invade your life to the point of telling you how much you should be spending on your cell phone is not something that comes naturally to people with pride and dignity. This might be hard to understand for people who have never been in this situation, but I’d much rather be a “deadbeat” and have my wages garnished with the discretion on how I spend the rest than have some old judge tell me how much money I should be spending on breakfast.
When trying to get your debts discharged through bankruptcy, there seems to be no limit to what a judge can take into account to see if you are really desperate. But a recent Ninth Circuit opinion upholding a discharge by reversing the district court put one boundary on what a court can look at to determine if you’ve tried to pay your debts in “good faith.”
The court can’t look at your household and suggest that you pimp out your wife. So at least that’s something…
Ed. note: This is the latest installment of The ATL Interrogatories. This recurring feature will give notable law firm partners an opportunity to share insights and experiences about the legal profession and careers in law, as well as about their firms and themselves.
Larren Nashelsky is the chair of Morrison & Foerster. Prior to becoming chair, Mr. Nashelsky focused his practice on U.S. and international restructurings, including Chapter 11 reorganizations, workouts, restructurings, secured financings and distressed acquisitions and investments. Larren is a graduate of Hofstra University School of Law.
Take this famous line and replace “man” with “law firm partner,” and you’ve captured the gist of the lawsuit against Ropes & Gray brought by Patricia Martone, who alleges age and sex discrimination by her former firm. (Martone, a former IP litigation partner at Ropes, is now a Morrison & Foerster partner.)
When I broke the news of this lawsuit back in 2011, I expected a speedy settlement. Would Ropes really want to go toe to toe with a pair of high-powered litigatrices, namely, Martone and her formidable employment lawyer, Anne Vladeck?
But here we are, two years later, and the battle rages on. Ropes has hired a third leading litigatrix to defend itself. Let’s learn the latest news….
(Note the multiple UPDATES at the end of this post.)
From: Larren M. Nashelsky
Sent: Friday, February 08, 2013
Subject: 2012 Associate Bonuses/2013 Associate Compensation (U.S. Comp Structure)
To all Associates and Counsel on the U.S. Compensation Structure:
I am delighted to confirm 2012 bonuses and announce 2013 base compensation. Before I turn to the details, however, I want to thank you once again for your terrific work. As I noted in my message over the holidays, MoFo had a great 2012. Clients entrusted us with their biggest and most challenging matters, which fed strong performances across our practices. The partners appreciate your commitment to excellence and the many sacrifices you made along the way in serving our clients. We look forward to celebrating many more successes together in the months and years ahead.
2012 associate bonuses will be paid with the February 15 payroll; base salary increases will be paid with the February 28 payroll, retroactive to January 1.
2012 Bonuses – Non-NY
On February 11, we will distribute memos to associates outside New York who are receiving Evaluation Bonuses. (Associates who did not meet their minimum legal service hours requirements will not receive memos or be paid Evaluation Bonuses). As you know, we take into account three factors in calculating individual bonuses: performance as determined through the evaluation process, Efficient Legal Service Hours, and seniority. Evaluation Bonuses will be paid in the following ranges:
The Salary Class of 2011 is not included in the Evaluation Bonus program, but eligible members of that class will be paid a First Year Bonus ranging from $10,000 to $20,000 (with a median bonus of $15,000) based on Efficient Legal Services Hours. Members of the Class of 2012 who met their prorated hours minimum will receive a bonus of $10,000 (prorated to reflect start date).
A special “high hours” bonus ranging from $10,000 to $30,000 (prorated in cases of associates with less than 100% Full Time Equivalents) will be paid to associates with Efficient Legal Service Hours in excess of 2500; these bonuses are not reflected in the chart above.
2012 Bonuses –- NY
In New York we will be paying bonuses to all eligible associates as previously announced. [Ed. note: We understand that the firm followed the Cravath scale in New York.] A special “high hours” bonus ranging from $10,000 to $40,000 (prorated in cases of associates with less than 100% Full Time Equivalents) will be paid to eligible NY associates with Efficient Legal Service Hours in excess of 2300.
2013 Associate Base Compensation
2013 associate base compensation for those on the U.S. compensation structure will be paid by Salary Class year, as shown below. There were no changes to the base compensation scale from that in 2012.
Of Counsel compensation is determined on a case-by-case basis; individual 2013 arrangements will be finalized between now and April 30. Bonuses for 2012 will be paid with the February 15 payroll.
If you have questions after receipt of your bonus memo, please contact Cheryl Moser, Managing Director of Practice Administration. I invite you to bring more general questions about bonuses or base compensation to the meetings I will be having with non-partner attorneys on February 12, to contact your Associate Representative in anticipation of the Associate Rep meeting on February 25 at noon Eastern time, or to raise them with your Attorney Development Manager.
 The firm’s Compensation and Evaluation Brochure contains eligibility requirements and other important details applicable to bonuses and base compensation. Attorneys who are not paid on the U.S. compensation structure will receive separate communications regarding compensation.
 Payment dates may vary in some international offices.
* Justice Sotomayor’s memoir made the NYT’s best-seller list, and in terms of sales, she’s officially beating the pants off other Supreme Court justices who’ve released books of a similar nature. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]
* In case you were sleeping under a rock yesterday when this happened, John Kerry was confirmed by the Senate as secretary of state. Don’t think we’ll be getting a Texts From John Tumblr, though. [New York Times]
* Despite having a “pretty spectacular” year, Blank Rome’s legal secretaries may soon find themselves blankly roaming in search of new employment. Better hurry up, the buyout offer expires on Friday! [Legal Intelligencer]
* Straight up now tell me, do you really wanna sue me forever? Corey Clark once claimed he had an affair with American Idol judge Paula Abdul, and now he claims MoFo and Gibson Dunn defamed him. [Am Law Daily]
* In this round of musical chairs, we learn that Orrick hoovered up three energy and project finance partners from Bingham, one of whom will co-chair the firm’s U.S. energy group. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]
* Remember the Zumba prostitution ring? Now we know you can’t be prosecuted for secretly filming Johns in the act in Maine, because there’s no expectation of privacy in “bordellos, whorehouses, and the like.” [Wired]
* Energy drink makers are facing class action suits over claims made about their products. Fine, Red Bull may not give you wings, but it tastes like piss, and that’s gotta count for something, dammit. [National Law Journal]
* Much like herpes, Lindsay Lohan’s legal drama is the gift that just keeps on giving. Her longtime lawyer Shawn Holley wants out, and her new lawyer, Mark Heller, isn’t even licensed to practice in California. [CNN]
Lawyers are obsessed with rankings and prestige, especially those that have to do with emerging markets in the eastern hemisphere. It’s a new year, so the folks at Asian Lawyer decided to start it off with a new rankings system for Biglaw firms, both American-based and those indigenous to the Asia-Pacific region.
Although Asian Lawyer evaluated firms using several different metrics (total attorney headcount of firms based in the Asia-Pacific region, biggest American firms with lawyers in the region, biggest European firms with lawyers in the region, and most attorneys by headcount of any firm in the region), we only really care about two of them.
The most some Americans know about the region is that they’re fans of the delectable cuisine, but can U.S. law firms hang with the Asiatic big boys? No matter how many firms tell you it’s the motion of the ocean that counts, size does matter for the purposes of these rankings….
MORRISON & FOERSTER — MEMORANDUM — YEAR-END BONUSES FOR 2012 (NEW YORK)
On behalf of the firm and the New York partners, I am very pleased to announce that we will be paying New York market year-end bonuses for 2012, in the amount described in the chart below on February 15, 2013.
The bonus will be paid to New York associates in a manner consistent with the firm’s compensation and evaluation policies.
Bonuses will be based on salary class year and will be prorated for start dates, part-time arrangements, and any leaves of absence taken during the calendar year. While the New York discretionary bonus is not contingent on achieving a specific hours target, bonus amounts paid may vary based on differences in levels of contribution, whether as to quality or hours markedly below expectations for the New York market, and an individual bonus may be adjusted downwards or withheld. Subject to the foregoing, bonuses will be paid to all New York associates who progress with their salary classes based on their annual evaluations and are in good standing and employed with the firm when the bonuses are paid.
Bonuses for Of Counsel are determined separately; we will send individual messages on those bonuses in January.
The amounts of the year-end bonuses will be as follows:
Salary Class Year Amount of year-end bonus
Class of 2012 $10,000 (prorated)
Class of 2011 $10,000
Class of 2010 $14,000
Class of 2009 $20,000
Class of 2008 $27,000
Class of 2007 $34,000
Class of 2006 $40,000
Class of 2005 $50,000
Class of 2004 $60,000
(+ prior years)
Thank you for all that you have done for the firm and our clients in 2012. Best wishes for the New Year.
Brett H. Miller
Managing Partner, NY
Morrison & Foerster LLP
1290 Avenue of the Americas | New York, NY 10104-0050
I’d like this story a lot better if it was about an associate busted for using a fake disability to get extra time, instead of just about an associate getting busted for not actually having whatever BS affliction the kids are using these days. But I guess this is a start.
A Hastings Law graduate and former summer associate at Morrison & Foerster was nailed for faking an unnamed disability to get more time on the California bar exam.
In related news, I’ll now be marketing myself as a disability-faker detector. I have a simple methodology for determining fakers, and I’m not afraid to share it. My system is: if you can fake it so well that I can’t tell the difference, then it’s not a real disability that requires extra time in the first place!
I’ll be coming to a bar testing center near you to show my proven method in action…
* “Why drag us into it?” Constitutional or not, it seems that not even the D.C. Circuit wants to deal with the political hot mess that’s been caused by President Barack Obama’s recess appointments. [National Law Journal]
* There’s something (allegedly) rotten in the state of Texas: Bickel & Brewer was booted from a multi-million dollar lawsuit due to accusations that the firm paid top dollar for insider information. [Dallas Morning News (sub. req.)]
* There are many more women in the legal profession these days than there were 40 years ago, but — surprise, surprise, here’s a shocker — they’re still getting paid less than their male counterparts. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]
* And here’s today’s opportunity to beat the horse that just won’t die. This law professor says he pities those who buy into the media’s law school scam narrative, while in reality, most would pity the many unemployed graduates of his law school. [Huffington Post]
* Here’s a protip for the February bar: don’t fake a disability to get extra time. Even if you end up passing, the bar examiners will find out and pretty much ruin your life. Just ask this UC Hastings Law grad. [Am Law Daily]
* “Also, you probably shouldn’t bring pot with you to the federal courthouse (or any other federal property).” Umm, come on, were the Washington police officers who created this marijuana guidebook high? [CNN]
* With Eric Holder questioning his job, and Deval Patrick dining at the White House, perhaps we’ll see our second black attorney general. Or not, because one of the Governor’s aides says he’ll continue his reign as a Masshole. [Washington Times; Buzzfeed]
* When it came to sanctions for discovery violations in the Apple v. Samsung case, this judge was all about pinching pennies. Last week, both Quinn Emanuel and MoFo got taken to task over their apparently “sloppy billing practices.” [The Recorder]
* What’s the most inappropriate thing for a federal judge to say to jurors when delivering the news that a defendant of Asian descent killed herself after testifying? “Sayonara.” Ugh. [Careerist via New York Times]
* “Law school is very unforgiving, but classes must go on.” Law schools in the New York metropolitan area are still trying to make sure their students are safe and sound — and studying, of course. [New York Law Journal]
* Another one bites the dust: Team Strauss/Anziska’s lawsuit against John Marshall Law School over its allegedly phony post-graduate employment statistics has been dismissed with prejudice. [Chicago Tribune]
* Are you ready for some litigation? Lawyers for Nick Saban’s daughter are showing the sorority girl who sued her what it’s like to get rolled by the Alabama tide in a flurry of more than 40 subpoenas. [Times Leader]