Just as Weil, Gotshal & Manges welcomes back legendary bankruptcy partner Harvey Miller, the firm is saying goodbye to four other restructuring stars who are leaving to join a rival firm.
Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft is set to announce today that it has recruited George A. Davis, Deryck A. Palmer, John J. Rapisardi and Andrew M. Troop as partners in New York. The move, involving four of Weil Gotshal’s most prominent bankruptcy partners apart from Miller and practice co-heads Martin Bienenstock and Marcia Goldstein, points to a major realignment among elite bankruptcy practices.
In our post from last week, we had all of the names except for Troop.
Our tipster chalked up the move to the departing partners’ desire “to swim in Bob Link’s shark tank and make the big $$$.” The NYLJ piece seems to confirm that:
[Deryck Palmer] praised Cadwalader’s famously performance-driven culture, where top partners are rewarded handsomely and weaker ones are winnowed out.
“Cadwalader provides an environment where every lawyer can achieve their potential,” said Palmer.
* Even in Berkeley, it’s a little bit about the money. And by a little bit, I mean a lot. If you want to be a PD in spite of higher student loans, just apply for a Sandy Cohen Public Defender Fellowship. The OC may be off the air, but some indie law kid is bound to follow up with another pop-culture inspired tie-in. [Nuts & Boalts; Los Angeles Times]
* Smallish firms where named partners are actually still alive and employed should think about adopting a generic boy band-esque name (Menudo LLP?) to avoid the awkwardness that ensues after a member is unceremoniously kicked out (or hits puberty). [The BLT: Blog of the Legal Times]
* Let us take back toddler cuteness! I do question visible make-up and the whole Vogue Bambini aesthetic on the under-5 set, but aren’t you glad that unlike real life, that little girl’s bikini top isn’t totally off-center? [eitb24 via Drudge Report]
* This is not a joke (à la SNL fake commercials/Games Magazines fake ads of yesteryear). [Feminist Law Professors]
The issue of hefty signing bonuses for Supreme Court clerks has generated lively discussion in the comments, as well as on otherblogs.
You clearly have strong views on the subject — and we’re curious about them. So it’s time for one of ATL’s (hugely unscientific) reader polls:
Or, perhaps more importantly, their $200,000 signing bonuses? That’s the question Dahlia Lithwick takes on in her recent Jurisprudence column for Slate.
The sums in question are even larger than Lithwick notes. She writes:
That will be [a] $200,000 [bonus] on top of a starting salary of $145,000 to $160,000. Which adds up to an awful lot of Pottery Barn sectional furniture for someone who is, on average, 26 years old and just two years out of school. As Chief Justice John Roberts pointed out recently, that $360,000 beats the heck out of the $212,100 he’s taking home for, well, chief justice-ing the entire nation.
Actually, the starting salaries are even higher, since pretty much all firms give Supreme Court clerks seniority credit for their two years of clerking. So a clerk who went straight through to a feeder judge, the SCOTUS, and a private law firm would be paid like a third-year associate: $170,000 in Washington, or $185,000 in New York (or in the D.C. office of a New York firm).
Lithwick interviews Walter Dellinger and Carter Phillips, who offer various justifications for the outsized bonuses as an economic matter. We have our doubts — and are quoted as a dissenting opinion:
On his legal gossip blog, Abovethelaw.com, David Lat tracks lawyer salaries with the glee most of us reserve for American Idol. And according to him, the hefty law clerk bonus stopped making any real economic sense several decimal points ago. Lat notes that these new associates just don’t bill extraordinary hours; that boutique appellate practice isn’t that lucrative; and a good many former clerks have academic aspirations. “They’re billing 1,800 hours, not 2,500, and a lot of them are probably already working on their job talks,” he says, referring to their sales pitches for the academic market.
The real allure of the Supreme Court clerk, says Lat, is that they are trophy purchases, “something for a firm to crow about in their recruiting materials.” Ouch. If Lat is correct about this, the boutique firms are buying former Supreme Court clerks when they might be better off investing in something more enduring, like new leather sofas for their lobbies.
We stand by these remarks, but maybe we’d remove the “Ouch.” These bonuses don’t make pure economic sense (in our opinion); but neither do many other things that law firms spend gobs of money on. If a firm wants to drop $200,000 on a SCOTUS clerk, or on an Alexander Calder for the lobby, that’s their prerogative.
We’re quoted later in Lithwick’s piece:
[S]ome firms, notes Lat, have decided to stop pursing the Supreme Court clerks and spend their recruiting dollars on what he characterizes as the near misses. “For every one of the 36 smartest law kids,” he says, “there is another equally smart law kid who just had a bad interview [for a Court clerkship].” And if law firms make the economic decision to give bonuses to them, “they get all the benefits of a knock-off Prada purse: They perform the same function, they look great, and you know they’ll do a great job.”
We’d single out Kellogg Huber of D.C. as one such firm. Some of you have expressed curiosity about who pays the biggest clerkship bonuses. We believe it’s Kellogg Huber. This tiny, super-elite Washington litigation boutique is rumored to pay clerkship bonuses of $100,000 to federal appeals court clerks — and for that kind of money, combined with the firm’s small size, it can afford to be picky. The non-SCOTUS clerks at the firm tend to be those who came thisclose to landing a job at One First Street (e.g., feeder-judge clerks who interviewed unsuccessfully for Supreme Court gigs). Update: Do you have an opinion on whether Supreme Court clerkship bonuses are too high, too low, or just right? You can express it by voting in our poll. To vote, click here. What to make of those astronomical Supreme Court signing bonuses? [Slate]
Here’s an open thread for some Friday afternoon discussion — of associate pay raise news (of course), the D.C. Circuit gun control ruling, the latest Patriot Act controversy, or whatever else is on your mind right now.
Friday afternoons and evenings, of course, are favored times for breaking news — especially of the bad variety (e.g., resignations, layoffs, partner de-equitizations, etc.). So if any big news breaks this afternoon or evening, this is a fine place to take note of and discuss it. Thanks.
Being on the LIST OF SHAME gets more shameful by the day, as one law firm after another drops off of it.
The latest to leave: Bryan Cave. From a source at the firm:
The professional development people had a meeting with the associates this morning. New York associates will be getting the $15k raise [to $160K] across the board. DC and LA first years are going to $145K. Details to come in a memo to be distributed later today.
The LIST OF SHAME is shrinking, albeit slowly.
We were down to eight firms as of last Friday morning. Then we learned about Baker Hostetler matching market. And today we get this associate pay raise news (from a verified source at the firm):
You can remove Fulbright & Jaworski from the List of Shame. We raised associate base salaries in the New York office to market today (retroactive to January 1, 2007). There was a meeting of all the associates so there is no memo or voicemail.
This leaves us with the following (ranked by Vault 100 numbers on the left, ’cause that’s how the list started out, but with AmLaw 100 numbers supplied parenthetically on the right):
43. Baker & McKenzie (3)
77. Bryan Cave (56)
82. Reed Smith (33)
83. Dorsey & Whitney (68)
86. McGuireWoods (65)
100. Seyfarth Shaw (66)
If any of these firms doesn’t belong, please email us, with supporting documentation (if any). Thanks.
Over at Kenyon & Kenyon, the prominent intellectual property law firm, it’s the best of times — and the worst of times.
It’s the best of times for incoming associates, who will be earning the new market rate of $160,000. It’s the worst of times for the ex-Kenyon associates who are now looking for jobs.
Our take is that Kenyon is trying to keep up with the Simpson Thachers (or Fish & Richardsons) of the world, but getting winded by the effort. Yes, it’s raising salaries; but it’s not doing so until much later in the year. And it’s shedding associates at the same time, maybe to free up the payroll for raises.
Here are the details:
1. The firm is raising salaries for entering associates, but it’s not doing so until September 1. Here’s the email:
From: Birde, Patrick Sent: Wed 2/28/2007 3:48 PM To: ~Attorneys (All) Subject: NOTICE: Re: $160k Entry Salary
This is to advise you that our first year associate salary will be raised to $ 160K effective Sept. 1, 2007. Also, the Firm is in the process of revising the pay structure including the bonus system for all Associates and Counsel.
2. The firm has laid off associates. On January 11, the firm laid off 16 lawyers, according to partner Patrick Birde (who kindly responded to a fact-checking email we sent to him).
3. There was a rumor going around that the layoffs were made without warning. But according to Birde, this is incorrect:
[S]ome of the attorneys involved were already on probation and others were aware of issues with the firm brought to light during the review process.
4. The firm informed these 16 individuals that their names would remain on the firm website until March 15. (We’re guessing this was done to facilitate their job searches.)
So that’s the 411 on Kenyon. Feel free to discuss this news — or other associate compensation developments, since our last open thread was a while ago — in the comments.
This morning brings some big news in the world of bankruptcy law. From the WSJ Law Blog:
You can go home again, especially if you’re Harvey Miller (at right). The legendary bankruptcy lawyer is expected to rejoin to Weil Gotshal, whose partners are scheduled to vote on his return tomorrow.
“I would be delighted to have Harvey back, but it’s premature at this stage to comment on his rejoining the firm until the partnership votes on the issue,” says Stephen Dannhauser, firm chair.
Before decamping to investment bank Greenhill & Co. in 2002, Miller had spent the previous 33 years at Weil, building its bankruptcy department into one of the most prominent debtor-side practices in the country.
And from a little bird (so consider this to be nothing more than rumor at this point):
It appears four bankruptcy partners are leaving Weil and moving to Cadwalader (apparently to swim in Bob Link’s shark tank and make the big $$$). Partners include Deryck Palmer, John Rapisardi, and George A. Davis.
Could the return of Harvey Miller to Weil be related to the (rumored) departures of these younger partners?
We are following up on this rumor and will let you know what we find out.
UPDATE: Harvey Miller’s return to Weil is official. The WGM press release is available here. A longer version of the release, which was circulated by email at Weil, appears after the jump.
In case you haven’t seen it already, we’d like to call your attention to an update and correction to our last post about Mayer Brown Rowe & Maw’s decision — announced on Friday afternoon — to “de-equitize” 45 equity partners:
The premise of this post — that Mayer Brown intentionally tried to “get out in front of” this story — is incorrect. Our facts were correct, but our interpretation of them was erroneous.
It is factually accurate to state that the Chicago Tribune story [about the partner terminations and demotions] hit the web before Mayer Brown sent out the announcement email to its associates. It is also true that Mayer Brown representatives spoke with the Chicago Tribune about this news before the firm-wide email went out.
But there’s a backstory here that needs to be explained. We’ll have more to add in a subsequent post.
We now deliver the promised backstory. Check it out after the jump.
If your firm is in ‘go’ mode when it comes to recruiting lateral partners with loyal clients, then take this quiz to see how well you measure up. Keep track of your ‘yes’ and ‘no’ responses.
1. Does your firm have a clearly defined strategy of practice groups that are priorities of growth for your office? Nothing gets done by random chance, but with a clear vision for the future. Identify the top practice areas for which you wish to add lateral partners. Seek input from practice group leaders and get specifics on needs, outcomes, and ideal target profiles.
2. In addition to clarifying your firm’s growth strategy, are you still open to the hire of a partner outside of your plan? I’ve made several placements that fit this category. The partner’s practice was not within the strategic growth plan of my client, but once the two parties started talking with each other, we all saw how it could indeed be a seamless fit. Be open to “Opportunistic Hires.” You never know where your next producing partner might come from, so you have to be open to it. I will be the first to admit that there is a quirky element of randomness in recruiting.
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
We currently have a very exciting and rare type of in-house opening in China at one of the world’s leading internet and social media companies. Our client is looking for an IP Transactional / TMT / Licensing attorney with 2 to 6 years experience. The new hire will be based in Shenzhen or Shanghai. Mandarin is not required (deal documentation will be in English) but is preferred. A solid reason to be in China and a commitment to that market is required of course. This new hire will likely be US qualified (but could also be qualified in UK or other jurisdictions) and with experience and training at a top law firm’s IP transactional / TMT practice and could be currently at a law firm or in-house. Qualified candidates currently Asia based, Europe based or US based will be considered. The new hire’s supervisors in this technology transactions in-house team are very well regarded US trained IP transactional lawyers, with substantial experience at Silicon Valley firms. The culture and atmosphere in this in-house group and the company in general is entrepreneurial, team oriented, and the work is cutting edge, even for a cutting edge industry. The upside of being in an important strategic in-house position in this fast growing and world leading internet company is of the “sky is the limit” variety. Its a very exciting place to be in China for a rising IP transactional lawyer in our opinion, for many reasons beyond the basic info we can share here in this ad / post. This is a special A+ opportunity.
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