Money

K&L Gates Kirkpatrick Lockhart Preston Gates Ellis Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgYesterday’s tip about K&L Gates no longer making contributions to attorney 401k plans has been confirmed. We’ve obtained the memo, which our source introduced as follows:

Here’s the memo re: today’s post on K&L Gates. No further materials or communications have since occurred, save a videoconference from firm Chairman [Peter] Kalis, where in response to an associate questions as to why this benefit was cut, he essentially said that it was to make partners’ compensation packages more competitive due to required combined firm IRS changes.

I like how it says firm compensation remains competitive. Check out what the firm pays in the Bay Area and Los Angeles. How is that competitive?

In case you’re wondering, K&L Gates is not at the market rate of $160,000 in San Francisco and L.A. They instead pay associate starting salaries of $145,000 in those cities. See here and here.
The 401(k) memo appears after the jump.
Earlier: Biglaw Reversed Perk Watch: K&L Gates Cuts off 401(k) Contributions?
Biglaw Perk Watch: Retirement Benefits and Financial Planning

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Biglaw Reversed Perk Watch: The K&L Gates 401(k) Memo”

100 dollar bill Abovethelaw Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPGReaders of ATL are obsessed with lawyer compensation. But so is the mainstream media, it would appear — even in places outside New York, Washington, and Los Angeles.
From a piece by John-Laurent Tronche in the Fort Worth Business Press:

While local law firms are staying competitive, it doesn’t always pay to follow the nationwide trend to raise salaries for first-year associate lawyers.

A Texas pay raise explosion was sparked in mid-July when Houston-based Vinson & Elkins raised its first-year associate pay from $135,000 to $160,000, part of a nationwide move to match New York salaries. The firm’s pay hike prompted fellow Houston firm Andrews Kurth to raise salaries the next day, followed by a host of other big Texas law firms, including Dallas firms Haynes Boone and Thompson & Knight….

The move to match New York salaries is a matter of reputation, said David Lat, editor in chief of abovethelaw.com, a Web site that has been tracking the nationwide pay raise. But that reputation to “play ball with the big boys,” he said, isn’t always economically sound.

You can read the rest here. And a few days ago, the Des Moines Register “rewrote the WSJ story about lawyer salaries,” as one of you put it. (Well, Amir Efrati, remember what Coco Chanel once said: “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”)
The Register article begins:

Jason Fernandez never expected to be delivering flowers six months after he graduated from law school. But there he was – a graduate of the top-tier University of Iowa College of Law – navigating Washington, D.C., streets to deliver bouquets at $8 a pop.

Hey Jason: as long as you don’t deliver flowers to this gal or this guy, you’ll be fine.
(As it turns out, Jason won’t have to worry about sending flowers to difficult customers. He subsequently made the leap up from flower delivery to personal injury law.)
Sometimes dollars don’t make sense [Fort Worth Business Press]
Law school graduates finding soft job market [Des Moines Register]

Latham Watkins LLP Above the Law blog.JPGAs we previously wrote, there appears to be no truth to rumors of possible layoffs at Latham & Watkins. But even mentioning the words “layoff” and “Latham” in the same post got some people upset. We’d like to share some of the responses we received:

[T]he idea of layoffs [at Latham is] ridiculous. NYC M&A is still busy as hell, and on the whole the pace numbers, despite the traditional August lulls (read: not just credit market, it’s AUGUST) are very solid. They’re still bringing in laterals and still printing money.

And here’s a correction to the suggestion of possible slowness at the firm:

[O]ne of the comments you posted had incorrect data. The New York office was only at 90 percent pace for September, as some of your commenters noted. But for the year to date, even after a very slow August and September, New York’s pace is well over 100 percent. In fact, the office is about where it was last year, so things are nowhere near as bad as the doomsayers would have you think.

Plus, in the last week, things have began picking up substantially. In a few months, maybe we’ll be back to “NY to 190!”

Finally, we got our hands on firm-wide memo from Chairman and Managing Partner Robert Dell, discussing “firm culture.” It’s not very exciting, and it’s probably best read as a welcome to new associates, as opposed to some veiled discussion of layoffs.
If you’re curious, you can check it out after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide Layoff Nothing to See Here, Please Move Along Watch: Latham & Watkins”


K&L Gates Kirkpatrick Lockhart Preston Gates Ellis Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgWhen it comes to perks and fringe benefits, Biglaw giveth, and Biglaw taketh away. From a tipster:

Did you see the internal memo at K&L Gates announcing that the firm will cease contributions to attorney 401k plans? I found it interesting because it mentioned that similar reductions are occurring at other “major firms.” Which strikes me as stunning if true.

Of course, as noted in the comments to our earlier open thread on retirement benefits, many top law firms don’t contribute to attorney 401(k) plans in the first place. But if you know which “major firms” are being referred to in the memo, please share what you know, in the comments.
We received this information from a reliable source, but we haven’t seen the K&L Gates memo itself. If you have a copy to pass along, please email us. Thanks.
Earlier: Biglaw Perk Watch: Retirement Benefits and Financial Planning

Kirkland Ellis LLP logo Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.JPGSome sources at Kirkland & Ellis have been upset by our recent coverage of layoff rumors. These rumors were focused on K&E’s office in Chicago, but New York was also implicated.
As we’ve repeatedly noted, these rumors are just that — rumors. We were reporting more on the existence of the rumors, as opposed to offering them for their truth value.
But let’s say the rumors are true, and K&E has adopted more rigorous associate review standards this year, in light of growing economic uncertainty. Would that be such a bad thing? Consider this
comment
:

Kirkland & Ellis is one of the nation’s preeminent and most profitable law firms. So it appears they have a sound strategic business sense and are watching the bottom line. What is wrong with that? Don’t a lot of us aspire to work for a preeminent, highly profitable firm?

A law firm feels economic cycles. I’d much prefer to work for a firm that aggressively manages staffing levels as opposed to letting underproductive people [stay on indefinitely].

Recall that K&E’s bonuses have historically been well above market. If K&E is trimming some fat, so it can once again pay generous bonuses to the associates who DO meet its standards, what’s wrong with that?
Remember, too, that K&E, unlike most other Biglaw shops, doesn’t pay lockstep bonuses. Bonuses at Kirkland are highly individualized. In this sense, could K&E be the law firm of the future? Evaluate associates according to their individual merits, richly reward the superstars, and dump the underperformers? Might this be a better business model than the traditional “treat unequal associates equally” model of Biglaw?
Nevertheless, some Kirkland lawyers resist even this favorable characterization of the firm. They claim that K&E’s associate review process was conducted exactly as it has been in past years — that it was simply “business as usual,” and the same standards were applied this year as in prior years.
It’s only fair to give equal time to their views. Check out their rebuttals, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide Layoff Normal Associate Review Process Watch: A Rebuttal to the Rumors About Kirkland & Ellis”

Ave Maria School of Law Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpg* Holy Lawsuit, Batman! Professors sue Ave Maria. [AveWatch.org]
* TMI indeed; spare us talk of that burning sensation. Just say you have a doctor’s appointment, and leave it at that. [Nasty, Brutish & Short]
Patrick J Fitzgerald 2 Patrick Fitzgerald Pat Fitzgerald Above the Law blog.JPG* Just because you’re a 46-year-old man who has never been married doesn’t mean you’re gay. Plamegate prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald — whom we met earlier this month, btw — is engaged. Congrats, Pat! [WSJ Law Blog]
* Milberg Weiss and the Democrats: politics makes for not-so-strange bedfellows. [Overlawyered; Overlawyered]
* Some undergraduates earn cash by selling their class notes online. How long before this trend takes hold in law schools? [Conglomerate]
* Who says Yale Law grads can’t be funny? [Wonkette]

Our colleagues over at DealBreaker have been extensively covering one heck of a lawsuit. It’s our Lawsuit of the Day, but it really ought to be our Lawsuit of the Week — it’s that good.

The defendant is wealthy New York financier Jeffrey Epstein, who already stands accused, in Florida state court, of sex crimes involving underage girls. This latest case is a civil action filed in New York. Here’s a teaser:

[W]e’re knee-deep into the latest sex suit against Jeffrey Epstein, brought by a girl who, at the time, was whatever the opposite of over eighteen is. This one’s from Maximilia Cordero [at right], an aspiring model, who claims that in 2000, Epstein lured her to his Upper East Side apartment on the promise that “he and his wealthy friends would help…with her modeling career.”….

Epstein, in order to quell the girl’s fears as to what people would think of her blowing a man old enough to be her father, swore that he “wouldn’t tell anyone.” Bet he’s wishing he’d gotten her to do the same! Ah, well, hindsight.

Then he came in her mouth and requested that she return with her “14, 15, and 16 year old girlfriends next time.”

More — ’cause you know you want it — after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawsuit of the Day: Cordero v. Epstein”

Chapman Cutler LLP AboveTheLaw Above the Law blog.jpgWhat’s the hot new trend in Biglaw? Two-track systems for associates. They’re regarded as a sensible way for law firms to address the twin challenges of (1) higher associate salaries and (2) associate attrition (often due to a frustration with long hours).
Here’s word of the latest law firm to join the party, from NYLawyer.com (reg. req’d):

Chapman and Cutler, a Chicago-based firm with three offices and about 220 attorneys, has joined the parade of firms boosting first-year associate pay to $160,000, but the firm is taking a new path once associates reach their second year.

Second-year associates can opt for one of two compensation tracks at the firm under a new system that took effect last month, said Rick Cosgrove, who is chief executive partner at the firm. They can choose to work fewer hours at a lower pay level or more hours at a higher salary level, he said.

Cosgrove declined to specify the hours required and related pay rates under the new pay program for competitive reasons.

If you have info on the Chapman and Cutler scale that you’d be willing to share, please email us. According to a poster at Greedy Chicago:

The higher track is essentially Biglaw market, so long as you hit 2000 billables/year. The lower track is compressed to about $5k-$10k/year, depending on class year, and you need to hit 1850.

Other firms with two-track systems (click on each firm’s name for a memo and/or details): Hogan & Hartson, Wiley Rein, Fenwick & West, and Thelen (formerly Thelen Reid, and FYI, “Thelen” rhymes with “wheelin'”; see here).
Do you have an opinion about this two-tiered approach? If so, vote in our reader polls, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Chapman and Cutler Blazes The Trail of Tiers”

Beveridge Diamond PC environmental law Above the Law blog.jpgIn the latest issue of the Legal Times, Nathan Carlile has a somewhat salacious story about Beveridge & Diamond. Perhaps you haven’t heard of this D.C.-based environmental law boutique — which might be mistaken for a livestock brokerage, thanks to the sheep photos on their website. But a livestock brokerage probably has fewer hijinks:

[A] sordid story… has ensnared partners at 95-lawyer Beveridge & Diamond in allegations that include adultery and forgery. The dispute stems from a bitter divorce battle between firm partner John Guttmann and his wife, Nancy Lasater, a nonpracticing attorney who was previously co-chairwoman of the Law Practice Management Section of the D.C. Bar and a solo practitioner who often represented firms on ethics issues.

Some highlights and commentary, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Beveridge & Diamond: Affairs, Forgery, Car Chases, and Other Fun Stuff”

Shearman & Sterling logo Above the Law blog.jpgSometimes it takes a while. But we usually get results, eventually.
Back in July, we published a post entitled Clerkship Bonus Watch: What’s Up With Shearman? Today, at 12:32 p.m., this email went around at Shearman & Sterling:

At the last meeting of the Associates Committee in New York, the committee representatives noted that we had fallen behind some other firms who had adjusted clerkship bonuses in 2007. As we mentioned at the meeting, we assumed that the firm would promptly respond with a clerkship policy consistent with the market.

Accordingly, I am pleased to report that because the firm places great value on the experience a clerkship provides, it has raised bonuses to $50,000, paid to associates who join the firm after August 1, 2007 and who complete a one-year eligible clerkship. For two one-year clerkships or two-years of clerkship experience, the firm will pay $70,000. An additional bonus is paid to U.S. Supreme Court clerks.

For details, please refer to the firm’s website.

This is the first clerkship bonus news in a while (since Dechert). Have we missed any developments? If you know of clerkship bonus news that we haven’t previously covered — use the site search function or the archives to check — please email us. Thanks.
Earlier: Clerkship Bonus Watch: What’s Up With Shearman?

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