Litigatrix

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver Hedges associate salary Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgSome associates at Quinn Emanuel are a tad grumpy these days. But here are three items to cheer them up:
1. Profits per partner clear $3 million. As we previously reported in these pages, some QE associates were rather unhappy with their bonuses. But look on the bright side: stingy bonuses mean more money once you make partner.
As reported by Zusha Elinson in the Recorder:

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges continued its screaming ascent in 2007 with financial results that should put a scare into the most profitable New York firms.

The Los Angeles-based litigation shop reported that profits per partner hit the $3 million mark last year — a height surpassed by only three firms on the Am Law 100 list for 2006.

“That’s Wachtell country,” said Ronald Beard, a law firm consultant with the Zeughauser Group, referring to the highly profitable New York deal shop Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz.

Managing partner John Quinn offered a rebuttal to the bonus complaints:

The financial results didn’t prevent some associates from complaining about their bonuses. Legal blog Above the Law reported griping that the firm unexpectedly drew the line for full year-end bonuses at 2,100 hours, 100 hours more than the previous year.

Quinn said that decisions about bonuses are made at the end of the year, not beforehand, and that 2,100 was “not necessarily” a bright line. He added that Quinn associates were given a special bonus this year on top of the normal ones, matching a move made by only a few elite New York firms.

“If [Quinn associates] are not the most highly paid, they’re among the most highly paid in the country,” Quinn said. “Any suggestion that the firm has done really, really well and the associates haven’t shared is false.”

We have a rebuttal to the rebuttal from a disgruntled associate. Check it out — but caveat lector, this tipster may have an ax to grind — after the jump.
Update: Note the many defenders of the firm in the comments. Not all associates are whiny bee-atches!
2. Susan Estrich is in da house. Quinn seems to have a weakness for high-powered litigatrices. Already home to former Stanford Law dean Kathleen Sullivan, the firm just added Susan Estrich, who joins as Of Counsel in the Los Angeles office. From one associate:

Susan Estrich just joined our firm. Classic.

Now when I watch Fox News at home, I’ll hear plugs of work.

3. Retention bonuses: We’re looking into reports of retention bonuses in the high five-figures, which vest in 18 months. In light of the dissatisfaction in the ranks, retention bonuses may be just what the doctor ordered.
Quinn Partner Profits Clear $3 Million [The Recorder via Law.com]
Earlier: Associate Bonus Watch: A Few More Updates

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Charlene Morisseau 2 Charlene Morrisseau Charlene Morriseau DLA Piper Harvard Law School Southern Center for Human Rights.JPGFormer DLA Piper associate Charlene Morisseau isn’t just our Lawyer of the Day. This high-powered litigatrix — a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, and a former editor of the Harvard Law Review — should be hailed as a heroine by Biglaw associates everywhere.

From a most engaging article by Anthony Lin, in the New York Law Journal:

A Manhattan federal judge has thrown out a race discrimination suit brought against DLA Piper by a former associate who claimed the firm’s New York office was a hostile work environment.

Charlene Morisseau, a 2001 graduate of Harvard Law School, where she was a law review editor, joined DLA Piper as a litigation associate in April 2003 but was asked to leave less than a year later. In a lawsuit filed last year, Ms. Morisseau, who is black, claimed her firing was retaliation for complaints she had made about discriminatory treatment.

She requested almost $250 million in damages from the firm and the 11 partners she individually named in the suit.

Now, we’re all in favor of giving associates more money. But $250 million may be a bit much, even for a Harvard Law grad. It’s about 90 percent of DLA Piper’s total firm profits for 2006 ($280 million).

But it looks like Morisseau won’t be seeing a dime:

Southern District Judge Lewis Kaplan granted summary judgment to the firm Monday, finding that DLA Piper had put forth a “legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for plaintiff’s termination.”

“Here, the uncontradicted evidence demonstrates that plaintiff did not perform in a manner satisfactory to Piper notwithstanding her academic credentials,” the judge wrote. “She was a confrontational, stubborn, and insubordinate employee in an environment in which professional personal relations, flexibility and a willingness to accept supervision were essential.”

Now we’ve reached the good part. Here’s why Charlene Morisseau should be every associate’s idol:

[I]n court filings, DLA Piper denied treating Ms. Morisseau differently and said the firm had taken action because the ex-associate had exhibited a pattern of unacceptable behavior, including yelling at partners and throwing one out of her office.

The firm said Ms. Morisseau ordered former partner Marilla Ochis to “back up” out of her office after Ms. Ochis had come to discuss an e-mail exchange Ms. Morisseau had apparently taken offense to.

Have you ever fantasized about telling off your partner oppressors? Well, Charlene Morisseau has lived your dream — and then some.

Read the rest, after the jump.

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Heller Ehrman LLP Above the Law blog.JPGIn the comments to yesterday’s post about Heller Ehrman, there was some debate about how grave the firm’s current problems are. Last night, more bad news broke, from Legal Pad (via the super-vigilant Blogonaut):

Another day, another Heller lawyer gone. Corporate partner Kyle Guse has jumped from the firm’s Silicon Valley office to McDermott Will & Emery. Guse told Legal Pad that the current rumblings at the roughly 700-lawyer Heller had nothing to do with his decision to leave….

Guse represents biotech and tech companies and said he’ll be bringing his clients with him to the new firm.

So tell us, loyal reader(s), what is going on at Heller? Are more partners going to leave? Will captain Matt Larrabee guide the firm to safety?

Nancy Cohen Nancy Sher Cohen diva Heller Ehrman Above the Law blog.jpgATL readers: any thoughts?
For the record, we take no pleasure in Heller Ehrman’s difficulties; we’re just covering a story. When we were in private practice, our experiences with Heller Ehrman were quite positive. We attended several depositions defended by the diva-licious Nancy Sher Cohen, who protected her witnesses like a lioness protecting her cubs. We were most impressed by this badass litigatrix (who is also a community activist and cancer survivor; see this profile).
P.S. And the cookies served in Heller’s New York office were delicious! No matter what happens to the firm, we hope that the cookie recipe will be preserved for posterity.
Corporate Partner Exits Heller Ehrman [Legal Pad / Cal Law]
More Bad News for Heller: Yet Another Partner Defection [Blogonaut]
Sher Cohen’s Law & Order: Justice Unit [JewishJournal.com]
Earlier: Going to Heller in a Handbasket? (Part 1)

Joel Klein Joel I Klein Nicole Seligman 565 Park Avenue Above the Law blog.jpgAs we have previously bitterly lamented observed, sometimes it seems like all the blessings of life are reserved for Supreme Court clerks. And they include not just $250,000 signing bonuses and top-shelf legal jobs, but luxury real estate, too.
This latest Lawyerly Lairs post looks at the expanding digs of Joel I. Klein (Powell) and his wife, Nicole K. Seligman (OT 1984/Marshall). From the New York Observer:

New York is a city of poshly-housed public servants.

The mayor owns two mansions in the East 70’s; the governor goes rent-free in a terraced Fifth Avenue apartment (it’s owned by his dad); development chief Robert Lieber has a new $7.25 million condo at Trump International; and even Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum is in the Beresford.

Now Schools Chancellor Joel Klein has bonus space on Park Avenue. He and his wife Nicole Seligman, a Sony executive vice president (and an ex-lawyer for both Oliver North and Bill Clinton) have paid $1.7 million for their second apartment at 95-year-old 565 Park Avenue.

Yes, that’s right — their second apartment in this venerable building. The couple already own the unit directly above their new acquisition. Hello, duplex!
(C’mon, get real: Did you really expect Klein and Seligman to slum it in a sub-$2 million apartment? As people have observed countless times in these pages, $2 million doesn’t buy you much in NYC.)
More details after the jump.

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Shanetta Cutlar 2 Shanetta Y Cutlar Shanetta Brown Cutlar DOJ SPL Special Litigation Section Civil Rights Division.jpgSome of you have been asking for updates on Shanetta Cutlar, the high-powered Department of Justice lawyer who has generated some colorful stories in the past. If you’re not familiar with her, click here, and browse through the archives.
We don’t have anything terribly new to report on her. We hear that she has been on her “best behavior” ever since we started writing about her.
But since this is ATL Wayback Weekend, we’re happy to pass along something from back in June, which we never got around to writing up back then. A reader drew our attention to this Washington Post Career Track live web chat:

Washington, D.C.: I am a young attorney for the federal government. I loathe my current position because of a very moody and difficult supervisor (the situation is so horrible that half of my office is currently looking for new employment). I am desperate to leave this position, I am extremely stressed because of the work environment created by this supervisor. I have applied for 11 other federal positions.

While I wait to (hopefully) hear about one of those positions, can you recommend any other possible job search options? I really want to leave this position as soon as possible and I’ve only worked for the federal government (two years since law school).

Hmm… We wonder who this person’s boss might be. Any suggestions?
Discussion continues after the jump.

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Damages FX Glenn Close Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgIf you’re looking for something to do in an hour and a half, why not check out the new legal thriller on FX, Damages?
This new television series stars Glenn Close, whom we have worshiped ever since Fatal Attraction. We love a strong woman, who knows exactly what she wants — and will stop at nothing to get it.
The litigatrix role that Glenn Close plays in Damages has some similarities to Alex Forrest in Fatal Attraction. Here’s the show’s synopsis:

DAMAGES is a legal thriller set in the world of New York City high-stakes litigation. The series, which provides a view into the true nature of power and success, follows the turbulent lives of Patty Hewes (Glenn Close) the nation’s most revered and reviled high-stakes litigator and her bright, ambitious protégé Ellen Parsons (Rose Byrne) as they become embroiled in a class action lawsuit targeting the allegedly corrupt Arthur Frobisher (Ted Danson), one of the country’s wealthiest CEOs.

As Patty battles with Frobisher and his attorney Ray Fiske (Željko Ivanek), Ellen Parsons will be front and center, witnessing just what it takes to win at all costs, as it quickly becomes clear that lives, as well as fortunes, may be at stake.

Tonight’s episode is the third installment of the series. Some thoughts on the first two episodes, from two readers and from us, appear after the jump.

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Sharon Nelles Sharon L Nelles Sullivan Cromwell Abovethelaw Above the Law legal blog.jpgIf you’re looking for the latest scoop on Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell, there’s another site to check out in addition to the usual suspects. Please extend a warm welcome to the newest Charneyblogger: Keeping Up With Jonas!
While we were away last week, Jonas reported on a fabulous new addition to the S&C legal team:

Sullivan and Cromwell partner Sharon L. Nelles filed a notice of appearance yesterday in the Aaron Charney v. Sullivan and Cromwell case.

Do we overuse the term “fabulous” around here? Oh maybe. But Sharon Nelles has been certified as “fabulous,” by the mainstream media:

Perhaps most important point about this development, Ms. Nelles was selected by The American Lawyer as one of “The Young Litigators Fab 50″ — 50 litigators under 45 who are expected to be “leading the field for years to come.” Since this case will be around for a long time, a very long time, Sullivan was smart to select a lawyer predicted to have staying power.

So Charney’s lawyers had better watch out. Charney’s legal team, which includes Dan Alterman and Michael Kennedy, consists of experienced and well-regarded attorneys. But we don’t know if we’d call them “fabulous” — especially in light of their unfortunate fashion choices.
(If you’re really into this case — we’ll admit we’re getting a little bored, in the absence of new allegations about “bending over,” fabricated evidence, and Nazis — check out Jonas’s summary of the parties’ squabbles over discovery. It’s available over here.)
“Fab 50″ Litigator Joins Charney v. Sullivan and Cromwell Drama [Keeping Up With Jonas]
Charney Seeks Court’s Assistance in Setting Timetable [Keeping Up With Jonas]
Sharon L. Nelles bio [Sullivan & Cromwell LLP]
Earlier: Congratulations to the Fab Fifty: A Constellation of Young Legal Superstars

Miss Connecticut International Above the Law blog.jpg* It is my calling to keep people’s self-esteem in check when out of wack with reality. And to yet again point out the dangers of using MySpace if you’re over 21 or not a musician. I am also in a pissy mood today. [Gawker]
* The recent approval of a pill that stops menstruation has sparked much non-legal discussion on legal blogs, but I really just wanted to show you these funny stuffed tampons. [Law and Letters]
* Kids do the darndest things! A child-director, a lawsuit — and, of course, Kevin Bacon. [UPI]
* Claims of anorexia are just code for “Damn, she looks good!” and subsequent lawsuits code for “We need some free press” and “Don’t hate me because I’m hot.” But Keira, in life as in Star Wars, you remain the mere handmaiden to the Queen of Naboo. [Yahoo! News]
* If my boss asked me if he had a chance of eatin’ good in my neighborhood, I’d file a complaint as well. Unless he were hot, in which case I’d tell him to wait until after my wax. [Rockford Registrar Star]
* Old mothers, teen mothers, gay mothers… Just keep them out of high schools, please. End of PSA. [New York Times]

harriet miers.jpgThere was much speculation about where former White House counsel Harriet Miers, of the ill-fated Supreme Court nomination, would wind up.
Would Miers oversee the George W. Bush Presidential Library at her alma mater, SMU? Would she be nominated to the Fifth Circuit? Would she launch a new line of high-end eye make-up?
The suspense is now over. From the Dallas Morning News:

Ex-White House counsel and U.S. Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers will rejoin her old law firm, Locke Liddell & Sapp, the firm announced Wednesday.

Ms. Miers had helped run the firm, based in Houston and Dallas, before joining President Bush’s staff in 2001. She will rejoin the firm’s public policy group and litigation group on May 1.

A Locke Liddell official said she will be based in Washington D.C. but also have offices in Dallas and Austin.

Congratulations, Ms. Miers!
(But why is she staying in D.C.? Why not return to her home state of Texas, home to her former lover, Texas Supreme Court Justice Nathan Hecht? As we previously suggested, “If she returns to Texas, she may be able to stir the embers of his passion.”)
Harriet Miers To Rejoin Locke Liddell [Dallas Morning News]

Monica Goodling 5 Monica M Goodling Monica Gooding Alberto Gonzales Above the Law blog.jpgWe were planning to do a quick write-up on the Senate Judiciary Committee testimony of Kyle Sampson. But many such write-ups have already been done. And the Sampson testimony, while it had its moments, wasn’t quite as exciting as we were hoping.
So forget about the decidedly unglamorous Kyle Sampson, accurately described by Emily Bazelon as “sweaty, nervous, and soft-spoken.” Let’s talk about a more exciting and dynamic personality, the real breakout star of U.S. Attorney-gate to date:

MONICA GOODLING!!!

Today brings two new, juicy profiles of Monica M. Goodling — one from the Washington Post, and one from the Harrisburg Patriot-News. They contain a lot of interesting material.
Discussion and links, after the jump.

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