Kramer Levin Naftalis Frankel LLP logo Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgFirms continue to raise their clerkship bonuses, although the pace of announcements seems to be slowing.
Here’s the latest addition to the $50K/$70K Club:

“Kramer Levin increased its clerkship bonus to $50,000 for one year and $70,000 for two years. The info is on their NALP page.”

Indeed it is. You can access the firm’s form by running a search on this page.
And if you’re looking for a continually updated compilation of clerkship bonus information, we refer you to this list, over at the Law Clerk Addict blog. Very helpful!
P.S. Random factoid about Kramer Levin: it’s the former Biglaw home of the WSJ Law Blog’s Peter Lattman, who practiced litigation there for two years in the 1990s.
Vault 100 clerkship salary bonus chart [Law Clerk Addict Blog]

charity helping hands Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgToday’s Biglaw benefit of the day: charitable contributions (matching or otherwise).
Let’s start with the gold standard of perk providers, Kirkland & Ellis. From a tipster:

K&E matches charitable contributions, up to $500 a year, for associates. And for summer associates, too.

You can donate to any nonprofit, not just your law school. I thought that was pretty cool.

Indeed — the flexibility is nice. Wachtell Lipton makes charitable contributions on behalf of its associates, or at least they did when we were there, but these donations would just go to your law school.
(But hey, don’t look a gift-gift horse in the mouth. The donations by WLRK were made in your name, no matching from you required, and they were good-sized: several hundred dollars. Nothing that would embarrass you in the annual list of alumni givers.)
What’s your firm’s approach to charitable contributions? Please share in the comments. Thanks.

King Spalding LLP logo Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgEarlier this week, we reported on King & Spalding raising starting salaries for its associates to $145,000.
A subsequent article, in the Fulton County Daily Report, contained this interesting analysis:

[Legal recruiter Raffaele V.] Murdocca predicted that King & Spalding would not simply match the new Alston & Bird pay scale for more senior classes. “A lot of associates are upset with how much pay compression there is at Alston & Bird,” he pointed out.

Alston increased pay by $15,000 for first-year associates but in smaller increments for more senior associate classes, so there is only a $45,000 difference between the salaries of the firm’s first- and seventh-year associates….

“That is not a lot of money when dealing with very different levels of experience,” said Murdocca. “Mid-level and senior associates are doing a substantial amount of work and are very valuable. The firm does not want to upset them….”

For ATL readers in ATL, there’s additional discussion after the jump.

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Haynes and Boone haynesboone associate salary Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgSeveral of you have drawn our attention to this news, from the Texas Lawyer:

Today, Haynes and Boone partners plan to tell the Dallas-based firm’s Texas associates their salary scale will increase, retroactive to Aug. 1, to the new market rate of $160,000 for first-year associates.

Haynes and Boone partner Terry Conner says the new salaries for second- and third-year associates will be $170,000; $180,000 for fourth-years; $190,000 for fifth-years; $200,000 for sixth-years; $205,000 for seventh-years; and $210,000 for eighth-year associates.

The firm plans to increase its associates’ bonuses and alter the basis on which those year-end packages are calculated.

Specifically, Conner says, Haynes and Boone will offer bonuses of as much as $5,000 to first-year associates and as much as $70,000 to eighth-year associates. As in the past Haynes and Boone management will require associate classes, as a group, to achieve certain billable-hour totals for bonuses to be distributed.

More details appear in the full article, by Miriam Rozen. It’s not clear if there will be a memo, but if there is, please send it to us by email. Thanks.
Haynes and Boone Latest to Hike Associate Salaries in Texas [Texas Lawyer]

100 dollar bill Above the Law Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPGSome Boston salary news, from a helpful tipster:

1. Goulston & Storrs: Raised to 160K. See here. I think that leaves Nutter, McClennan & Fish, Sullivan & Worcester, and Nixon Peabody as the only major Boston shops that have not raised to 160K. (Heck, even Day Pitney raised a little.)

2. Nixon Peabody: They should change some of the information on their website. Go here, navigate to the summer associate program, and click on the “compensation” tab. The salary box states that “Salaries reflect the geographic markets in which our offices are located.” To be more accurate, there should be an “Except for Boston, San Francisco, and Washington” at the start of the sentence.

Just thought you should know.

And we just thought our readers should know. We thank our correspondent for this information.

King Spalding LLP logo Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgGood times for associates at King & Spalding in Atlanta. They get kidnapped, but they’re released unharmed. And now they get pay raises!
We’ve confirmed the rumor from yesterday afternoon that King & Spalding has raised starting salaries for first-year associates. Here’s the email:

We are pleased to announce that, effective January 1, 2008, the salary for first-year, partner-track associates in the Atlanta office will be $145,000. We are continuing to evaluate compensation for other partner-track associates in Atlanta and will communicate with you further as additional decisions are made. We appreciate all that you do for the firm and for our clients.

From a source at K&S: “Much speculation that the only possible reason for delay regarding other years is that the firm is going to top A&B.”
K&S just announced [Greedy South / Infirmation]
Earlier: King & Spalding Attorney Kidnapped!

clock time billable hour Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.gifTo follow-up on the Fried Frank post about prompt submission of one’s time, a reader sent in this suggestion:

You should start a thread re: billing practices. For example:

1. Do you bill when you go to the bathroom?

2. Do you bill when a co-worker stops and talks to you for five minutes?

3. Have you seen partners bill for time not spent on actual client matters? (I know I have.)

4. Perhaps more commonly, have you noticed specific ways in which partners manage to lengthen conversations, hold extra internal meetings, or get people involved who really aren’t necessary to get the job done?

I guess we’re talking about a very subtle form of “padding” here. It would be interesting to know what associates have noticed — far more interesting than law firm policies about turning your timesheets in…..

Good idea. So here’s an open thread for discussion of billing practices. The billable hour has been widely criticized, even by Biglaw partners like Scott Turow (who, to be sure, probably earns more from his writing than his legal practice). But as long as the billable hour is still with us, questions like the ones raised above must be confronted.
The bathroom break question is an interesting one. When we worked at a firm, we would stop the clock when we went to the bathroom (which was often, due to heavy consumption of coffee and bottled water). But recently we were chatting with a friend in Biglaw who doesn’t, and she regarded the idea of stopping the clock when you go to the bathroom as laughable.
The Billable Hour Must Die [ABA Journal]
Bye Bye to the Billable Hour? [Concurring Opinions]
Earlier: Fried Frank: Doing Hard Time

To $160K and $170K, for first- and second-years, respectively, effective August 1. Here’s the official table, which was an attachment to the email that just went around:
Baker Botts Texas Associate Salary Bonus Chart Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpg
Update: One commenter notes: “They have taken compression to a whole new level with the $2,500 raise between 3rd and 4th year.”
We agree. Just give the fourth years a gift certificate to the Olive Garden, and call it a day!
Memo from managing partner Walter Smith, after the jump.

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question mark Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgAs we have confessed, we have a weak spot for whiny summer associates. Getting paid less than three grand a week, to sample America’s finest restaurants and go on whitewater rafting trips? It’s an injustice!
Okay, no, seriously. Many summer associates carry heavy debt loads. It’s not unreasonable for them to argue they should be paid at market rates.
Remember those WilmerHale summers, and how ATL rode to their rescue? Now a different group of summer associates is flashing the equivalent of a “Bat-Signal” into the night sky (except the ATL version would be shaped like a dollar sign).
The latest villain? Heller Ehrman. From a tipster:

I understand that Heller’s San Francisco and Silicon Valley offices (not sure about New York or DC) refuse to pay their summers the current market rate of $3100/week. They are paying the old $2800 rate.

When approached, management declined to justify or explain the decision.


I’m a summer at Heller Ehrman. Like Wilmer, the raise from $145K to $160K was not reflected in our summer paychecks. When firm management was asked flat out at a meeting if we were going to get the raise, we were only told “no,” with no explanation.

This, on top of the recent elimination of any bonus at 2000 hours, hurts financially. (See my six figure student loan debt from law school.) The first bonus level at Heller is a mere FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS for 2100 hours. There has been a lot of associate grumbling about this around the office, as well as among the summers.

What gives? The firm has become much less competitive than when I signed up to work for it last fall. The firm overall is great, but it’d be giving up a huge chunk of money to work here. I think rising 2Ls, about to start the interview process, should know this. I’d also like to hear more about other firms and their overall packages (bonuses included). If you could start a thread, it’d be much appreciated.

So here’s the thread you’ve requested. Since the summer is almost over — at least in terms of SA programs, if not the weather (we’re working from the beach today) — we doubt the Heller Ehrman summers will get the relief that the WilmerHale ones did. But to the extent that any of you might care about this info, here it is, for your consideration.

Alston Bird LLP Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgWe’re delighted to see that ATL has so many readers in ATL. And we apologize for that one time we were mean to you. (We don’t know what got into us; guess it was that time of the month.)
This morning’s post about the Alston & Bird raise, which will take effect shortly before your kids enter law school, generated robust commentary. It also earned us another shout-out in the mainstream media. From an Atlanta reader:

“Above the Law was mentioned in the Daily Report article on the Alston & Bird raise. In fact, the reporter confronted A&B’s hiring partner with some of the comments to your post.”

Here’s an excerpt from Meredith Hobbs’s excellent piece:

[A]ssociates posting anonymously to the Above the Law blog, a gossip and news Web site about big law firms, were not happy with Alston’s pay increase. They contended that associate pay in Atlanta still lags behind that in other comparable markets, such as Houston and Dallas….

Several blog posters criticized Alston for pay compression, pointing out that the firm is not increasing pay for more senior classes at the same $15,000 rate as for first-years.

“A&B did raise today. Starts at $145K, tops at $190K. So much for solving compression. Folks are devestated [sic],” wrote “Anonymous” a scant hour after Alston announced the increase last evening.

“First years get a 15K raise. I get 5K,” groused another.

When told of the comments, [A&B hiring partner Jonathan W. Lowe] responded: “If this is true, I am certainly disappointed to hear that our associates are unhappy with this pay raise. We try to determine what the market is with respect to associate salary in each of the cities where we have offices, and this was our best effort at determining the market in Atlanta at this time.”

We agree with our reader’s take on on Jon Lowe’s response:

“His reaction to the negative comments seemed to catch him off guard. You almost get the impression he expected to hear only the sound of Cristal corks popping.”

But hey, A&B associates, it’s not all bad. Remember the firm’s special generosity, back in May?
If this isn’t ringing a bell, your recollection may be refreshed by two emails, reprinted after the jump.

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