Money

paulhastings.gifWe previously had an open thread on London salaries, when Weil and Cleary went to 180 and Latham went to 190. Now TheLawyer.com reports that Paul Hastings has raised to £90k, or roughly $180k, in its London offices.
So we’ll ask again: does this make London more attractive than New York? Will the London raises create any additional upward pressure on salaries in New York? Let us know if this changes anything, in the comments.

wedding bonus Davis Polk Wardwell Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgA rather odd rumor recently came across our desk that Davis Polk hands out marriage bonuses of $500. That’s right, $500 for being married (and if you’re married to someone at Davis Polk, you each get $500, according to the rumor).
We hadn’t heard of this at Davis Polk or anywhere else previously, so we decided to float it to some Davis Polk sources. Here’s what they had to say:

Source 1: We do get a $500 marriage bonus… I got mine last year.
Source 2: I know that people got them in the past, but I am under the impression that this benefit no longer exists.
I think the most accurate characterization of it is that the benefit “once existed but may no longer exist.”
Source 1 (upon being told about Source 2′s claim that the benefit no longer exists): It definitely still exists. You have to ask for it, though.

So, can any Davis Polk folks out there tell us if this benefit still exists? Are any other firms doing this?

homeless man beggar Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgBased on the comments to our last post, it’s clear that many of you want to talk about job opportunities — or the lack thereof — available to folks who aren’t at so-called “top tier” law schools (or who aren’t at the top of their class at non-elite law schools).
As it turns out, we have a good vehicle for such discussion. Check out this interesting National Law Journal article:

Despite news of record-breaking employment figures for law school graduates and first-year salaries of $160,000 at many top law firms, a significant contingent of job seekers — including those with strong credentials — are living a much different story after graduation….

But the eye-popping salaries are the reality for a small fraction of law school graduates, and all those stories of big money may be creating unrealistic hopes for the vast majority of law school students. Contributing to the situation is the effort by law schools to portray their employment numbers as robustly as possible to boost their ranking scores.

The upshot means dashed expectations for lots of graduates, many of whom are saddled with high debt as they struggle to start their careers.

The depressing discussion continues after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “It’s Hard Out Here for Non-Top-Tier Law School Graduates”

iPhone small Apple iPhone Blackberry Crackberry Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgOn Friday, we reported that if you’re at Skadden, you can use your $3,000 technology allowance to buy an iPhone. We now have some clarifications about that good news.
From a Skadden source:

1. While you can use your tech allowance to buy just about anything “tech-y” at Skadden, the tech dept has made it clear that the iPhone is NOT compatible with Skadden tech infrastructure. See below [posting reproduced after the jump].

2. The iPhone isn’t excluded [from the tech allowance], but since you’re basically required to have a Blackberry for business purchases, they would likely frown on purchasing both a Blackberry (the monthly Blackberry service comes out of the tech allowance) and an iPhone (where the entire monthly phone-data package would likely be redundant).

3. What’s the point of having two devices strapped to your hip? Isn’t one enough? As soon as a reliable Blackberry client comes out for the iPhone, I think demand will force the tech folks to support the iPhone. Right now don’t even bother asking to get your Skadden email working on an iPhone.

We thank our tipster for explaining these finer points.
In the comments to our prior post, people expressed an interest in a forum for discussing workplace perks — i.e., “the fringe benefits that vary between Biglaw firms — tech allowances, book allowances, gym memberships, home loans, etc.”
We’re happy to oblige. But let’s do this in an organized way. Over the next week or so, we’ll put up a series of posts on fringe benefits, with each post dedicated to discussion of a specific type of perk.
Let’s get the ball rolling. Please treat this post as the open thread for discussion of technology allowances. Thanks.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “A Clarification About iPhones at Skadden (and Open Thread on Tech Allowances)”

Atlanta Georgia GA Hotlanta Big Peach Abovethelaw Above the Law legal tabloid.jpgAtlanta associates, don’t get us wrong. We are on your side. Here at ATL, we fully support the quest of associates in ATL to obtain just compensation for their law firm labors.
But it’s not a good sign when your local real estate market is going down the tubes, as suggested by an article in today’s New York Times. If you can buy a three-bedroom house for $134,000, the argument that you need a $160,000 starting salary is weakened.
And if “wages [in Atlanta] have been stagnant for much of this decade,” as the Times reports, it impairs your ability to vote with your feet — to tell your Biglaw bosses that, if salaries don’t improve, you’re going to take a different job down the street (even a non-legal one). One big factor placing upward pressure on associate salaries in New York is the need for law firms to compete with investment banks and hedge funds for talent.
Look, money isn’t everything. Working in Atlanta obviously has many non-monetary attractions.
But if more money is what you’re after, maybe you just need to move.
Increasing Rate of Foreclosures Upsets Atlanta [New York Times]

Skadden Arps Slate Meagher Flom Abovethelaw Above the Law online legal tabloid.jpgQuite some time has passed since our last unverified rumor about large New York law firms raising associate salaries. And hey, today is Friday. So let’s indulge!
The latest grist for the rumor mill comes from a fairly reliable source. We assure you that it’s NOT from a summer associate who, while barfing his guts out in a stall after too much Cristal, overheard two partners chatting at the urinals (although such a conversation, while violative of male restroom etiquette, might actually be pretty reliable).
Anyway, here’s the gossip:

1. Skadden is planning to raise starting salaries for its associates to $195K.

2. But it won’t be doing this anytime soon — not until the end of the year.

3. Consistent with Skadden’s current policy on associate compensation, the new salary scale will apply “across the board” — i.e., to all of Skadden’s domestic offices (not just New York).

So whaddya think of this latest scuttlebutt? Is it credible, or crazy talk?
Update: Lots of divergent views in the comments. Here’s one thing that we do know. If you’re at Skadden, you can use your technology allowance to buy… an iPhone! See here.
Earlier: More Rumors: NYC to 190!

Justine Clark Kelley Drye Warren Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgKelley Drye & Warren partner Justine Clark looks like a younger, brunette version of Madeleine Albright. But the similarities probably end there, since one would expect the former Secretary of State to pay her taxes.
From the Temporary Attorney blog:

Justine Clark, a partner at Kelly Drye & Warren, just plead guilty for failing to pay state income taxes….

Despite the fact that KDW has seen a steady growth in profits per partner, and despite the fact that KDW has benefited from a steady stream of contract attorney outsourcing, Clark, with greed unquenched, went ahead and screwed New York State out of close to $200,000, based on her $2.7 million earnings.

Her penalty? A slap on the wrist misdemeanor.

Okay, that’s a little harsh. As the New York Post notes, Clark earned $2.68 million not in a single year, but over the course of five years (2000 – 2004). That averages out to a little over $500,000 a year.
And in New York City, teeming with i-bankers and hedge funders, you’re a pauper if if you’re not taking home seven figures per annum. So can we really blame Justine Clark, struggling to keep up with the Joneses, for trying to keep a little more for herself?
Kelly Drye & Warren – Corporate Criminal [Temporary Attorney]
Docs, lawyers prove taxing to N.Y. State [New York Daily News]
Tax-Cheating Lawyers Nabbed [New York Post]
Justine Clark bio [Kelley Drye & Warren]

Dickstein Shapiro LLP Abovethelaw Above the Law associate base salaries starting salary blog.jpgDickstein Shapiro has raised to the $160K scale, for its offices in Los Angeles and Washington, DC. Those offices are now on the same salary schedule as the firm’s New York office (previously posted here).
The email announcing the pay raise, from firm chairman Michael Nannes, appears after the jump. It came out some time ago (the middle of last month), but we didn’t receive it until this week.
You can check out the Dickstein Shapiro email, and discuss salary-related matters more generally, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide Pay Raise: Dickstein Shapiro”

100 dollar bills clerk clerkship bonuses Abovethelaw Above the Law legal tabloid.jpgIn our recent New York Times op-ed piece praising lavish signing bonuses for Supreme Court clerks, we wrote that the bonuses “are expected to reach $250,000 this year — paid on top of starting salaries approaching $200,000.”

Some people have inquired into the factual basis for our statement. As it turns out, we did some actual reporting to support it. The reporting never made it into the final op-ed piece, but we’re happy to provide the details here.

If you’re curious, read the rest of this post, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Supreme Court Clerk Bonuses to $250K?”

100 dollar bill.jpg
One legal employer is pondering a hike in base pay from just over $165,000 to nearly $250,000: the United States courts!
A bill, co-sponsored by Senators Feinstein, Graham, Hatch, McConnell, and Reid, would set judicial pay at the following levels:
District Court Judges: $247,800
Court of Appeals Judges: $262,700
Associate Justices of the Supreme Court: $304,500
Chief Justice of the United States: $318,200
The Washington Post is lukewarm on the plan:

This relatively lower pay doesn’t appear to be hurting the quality of the federal judgeship applicant pool. Federal judges also are not engaging in a mass exodus to the private sector; bench departures have indeed increased over the last few decades, as supporters of the pay raise say, but so have total judgeships by a nearly proportional rate. Higher pay would be unlikely to greatly increase the number of qualified applicants from the private sector. A lawyer who doesn’t want to exchange his earnings of $1 million per year in a corporate partnership for a prestigious and influential federal judgeship that pays $165,200 probably also won’t leave for one that pays $246,800.

Someone should ask J. Michael Luttig what salary would have kept him in the public sector. (We suspect the answer is “whatever an Associate Justice makes.”)

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