Money

Wachtell Lipton Rosen Katz CBS building Abovethelaw Above the Law Blog.jpgAs you’ve made clear to us, through comments and via email, you’re dying to talk about year-end bonuses. For example:

– If your firm has a bonus policy that’s spelled out in advance, what are the general terms?

– If it’s a bonus based on billable hours, what are the cutoffs?

– If your firm doesn’t have a bonus policy, what are you expecting (or hoping) to receive this year as a bonus?

Here’s an open thread for discussion of bonuses at law firms in New York. We’ll roll out posts for other major legal markets over the next week or two.
We might compile bonus information in a more organized fashion at a later point in time. But for now, this will have to do. Have at it!
Update (1:10 PM): Originally this post was oriented around firms (alphabetically), but we’ve decided it makes more sense to organize by city. As this commenter correctly notes, “bonus policies vary more along market lines than firm lines.”

100 dollar bill Abovethelaw Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPGAfter we did a post about foreign clerkships, we received a number of follow-up inquiries. Readers wanted to know whether any firms pay clerkship bonuses to (1) staff attorneys and (2) administrative law judge clerks:

“I was wondering if there are bonuses offered for ALJ clerkships – you can clerk in D.C. for, among others, the EPA, the FERC, the Department of Labor . . . It seems like some firms carefully excludes these from their bonus policy, but others are a bit less clear on the question.
It seems to me, though, that if you’re going to a firm that does a lot of regulatory work, a clerkship with the appropriate agency would be quite valuable.”

“What about former administrative law judge clerks? For example, how much would one of the clerks coming from a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission judge this past summer pull from a DC energy firm?”

“Do you have information on whether firms pay clerkship bonuses to staff attorneys at circuit courts?”

We’re don’t know of such firms, but we’re not omniscient. If you know of any, please share your info in the comments. Thanks.

H Rodgin Cohen full size headshot Sullivan Cromwell.jpgSullivan & Cromwell gives out Kiehl’s toiletries at conferences for gay law students and lawyers. But senior associates at S&C get an even better gift: cold, hard cash.
In a memo that was sent out by email within the last half hour, S&C Chairman H. Rodgin Cohen announced the creation of the “Senior Associate Supplemental Compensation Plan.”
The two-page memo appears after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Breaking: Sullivan & Cromwell to Pay Special Bonuses to Senior Associates!”

Bill Lerach William Learch William S Learch Above the Law blog.jpgAs we mentioned in passing yesterday, infamous plaintiffs’ lawyer William Learch will be pleading to a federal conspiracy charge, related to his involvement in Milberg Weiss’s secret scheme to make payments to name plaintiffs in class-action cases. Under the deal that was so skillfully cut by Lerach’s lawyer, John Keker of Keker & Van Nest, Lerach will cough up $8 million in forfeiture and fines and serve one to two years in federal prison.
Is Bill Lerach getting off easy? Quite possibly. But a judge still has to sign off on the deal.
Not surprisingly, Lerach spread his cash around liberally among several Democratic candidates for president. But his favorite was fellow plaintiffs’ lawyer John Edwards. From Ben Smith over at Politico:

Edwards and Biden each gave away money from Lerach; no word yet on whether Hillary will give back the money he gave her 2006 Senate campaign.

Edwards, though, is particularly tied to him. Though he’s giving away the $4,600 from Lerach, Lerach is also listed as a bundler, and employees of the lawyer’s firm are his third-largest group of donors, mostly giving in the first quarter.

If we had to choose between disgraced Democratic fundraisers, we’d pick Norman Hsu over Bill Lerach any day. That Hsu is so cute — he looks like a Treasure Troll! And he didn’t intend to skip out on court the other day. He was “sick and confused,” you see, and “may have thought he was boarding a Bay Area Rapid Transit train when he instead caught an Amtrak train heading out of the state.”
The Lerach Case [Politico]
Fortunes Darken for Lawyer Melvyn Weiss [New York Sun]
Bill Lerach Agrees to Plead Guilty [WSJ Law Blog]
Is Bill Lerach Getting Off Easy? [WSJ Law Blog]
Hsu Didn’t Intend To Skip Court, Spokesman Says [CBS5.com]

law clerk judicial clerkship Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgLast week we asked, “What’s going on with clerkship salaries and benefits?” Now we have some answers.
Yesterday the Judicial Conference issued a press release that discussed law clerk salaries, among many other subjects. Here are the money (haha) quotes:

The Conference today also voted to continue implementing its cost-containment program by adopting a series of recommendations relating to law clerks and the Judiciary’s Court Personnel System in general….

[T]he Conference agreed that each judge will be limited to one career law clerk. Those 291 career law clerks now in chambers where more than one career law clerk is employed will be able to retain their career status in those chambers, with the assent of their judge, or with another judge if their judge dies, retires, resigns or is otherwise unable to retain a law clerk. Most federal law clerks are “term” clerks and typically serve one or two years. “Career” law clerks are expected to serve four or more years. This new policy limits a term law clerk’s term of employment to no more than four years, to be applied prospectively for current term law clerks. Another step replaces law clerk salary matching with a system aimed at achieving salary parity between those law clerks who gain their work experience within the Judiciary and those who gain their experience outside the Judiciary.

For those of you who might be interested in this subject — e.g., people interviewing for clerkships this week — additional commentary appears after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Law Clerk Salaries and Benefits: Thus Spake the Judicial Conference”

100 dollar bill Abovethelaw Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPGPro bono work is near and dear to your hearts. When we posted an open thread on the subject last month, it generated a slew of comments. Like this one:

I was actually told by the partner I worked for at my firm, in no uncertain words … “If you have time to spend on matters that firm isn’t collecting fees for, then you have time that I can be giving you more work that you should be collecting fees for.” And that was my official talk on our “pro bono policy.”

Well, who says that fee-earning work and pro bono work are mutually exclusive? From the Seattle Times:

Lawyers at Davis Wright Tremaine didn’t charge a parent group for seven years of work on a U.S. Supreme Court case against Seattle Public Schools: They took the case pro bono.

But now that the firm is trying to collect $1.8 million in legal fees from the school district, several national legal experts say the term — technically, “pro bono publico,” meaning “for the public good” — may no longer apply.

The firm’s effort has put a local lens on a national debate: If attorneys get paid for pro bono work, is it still pro bono?

The full article, which lays out both sides of the argument, is quite interesting. You can check it out here.
Some argue that financially strapped school districts shouldn’t have to shell out millions of dollars to line the pockets of law firms. But others argue that making them pay fees will discourage them from violating rights in the future (and that the law firms can donate the fees to charity). Thoughts?
Billing in “pro bono” cases is fodder for ethics debate [Seattle Times]
Earlier: Biglaw Perk Watch: Pro Bono Work

Here’s a twist on clerkship bonus news, from a reader:

With all the talk about rising bonuses for domestic clerkships, I was wondering if any firms were extending bonuses for foreign clerkships. I am clerking at a major foreign supreme court in a common law country and my BigLaw firm says it only offers bonuses for US or Canadian clerkships.

So, does anyone know if firms that provide bonuses for foreign clerkships? We’re not really aware of any. But if anyone can help out this reader, please pass along info in the comments.

Chambers St 200 Chambers Street Above the Law blog.jpgTime for another installment of Lawyerly Lairs, in which we follow the high-end real estate purchases of high-profile attorneys. Today’s subject is Allen Grubman, the hotshot entertainment lawyer with oodles of celebrity clients, who has become a celebrity in his own right.

From the New York Observer:

[The Grubmans] paid $3.07 million for a condo and two storage rooms at 200 Chambers Street, a glitzy new development in Tribeca.

Their new plush place has 2,201 square feet, not including those two storage spaces. Mr. Grubman can drive down in his 1961 Jaguar convertible, a gift from his wife.

The monster Park Avenue music lawyer, whose clients include Springsteen and U2, plus Martha Stewart and Barbara Walters, might have heard about the place from his wife, Corcoran Group power broker Deborah Grubman.

Sounds pretty faboo, right? Well, not so fast….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawyerly Lairs: Allen Grubman Ventures Below 14th Street”

Winston Strawn LLP logo Above the Law blog.JPGWe heard about this first from a tipster with an offer. But it’s confirmed by the firm website of Winston & Strawn:

Winston & Strawn associates who join the firm from judicial clerkships receive a clerkship bonus. Currently, the bonus paid to U.S. Court of Appeals and District Court clerks is $50,000. U.S. Supreme Court clerks receive a clerkship bonus that is competitive with the bonuses paid by other large national firms.

There’s no longer any doubt that $50K is the going rate for clerkship bonuses. But we will keep covering the subject, even if it’s not super-exciting, to encourage the firms that have yet to match to ante up.
Are you aware of clerkship bonus news that we haven’t previously reported? If so, please email us (subject line: “Clerkship Bonus Watch”). Thanks.
Judicial Clerks at Winston: Compensation & Benefits [Winston & Strawn]

BarBri bar bri bar exam review course prep course Above the Law Above the Law ATL.jpgAttention young lawyers. We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming to bring you this important announcement:

If you purchased a bar review course from BAR/BRI anywhere in the United States anytime from August, 1997 through July 31, 2006 (the “Class”), you may be affected by a settlement of a class action lawsuit pending in the United States District Court for the Central District of California called Rodriguez, et. al v. West Publishing Corp., d/b/a BAR/BRI, and Kaplan, Inc., Case No. CV-05-3222 R (MCx).

Okay, you already knew about that — and we wrote about it before too. But here’s the important part: the deadline for filing a Proof of Claim is this coming Monday, September 17, 2007. So if you chucked that form into a big “to deal with later” pile, just like we did, you need to fish it out over the weekend.
More discussion, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “A Friendly Reminder: The BAR/BRI Proof of Claim Deadline Is Monday!”

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