Money

100 dollar bill Above the Law Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPGThe American Lawyer’s 2007 Associates Survey is now available, via Law.com. Good stuff!

A summary of the survey’s key findings, by editor-in-chief Aric Press, appears here. The WSJ Law Blog collects additional highlights here.

It seems that ATL readers and law firm consultants aren’t the only ones predicting pay raises in the reasonably near future. From Aric Press’s write-up, here’s the money quote (hehe):

This year’s famous hike to $160,000 in starting pay for first-year associates did not buy hiring firms anything in terms of separating themselves from their competition. The firms that can afford to pay more will pay more; but there is a price point that not all Am Law 200 firms will be willing to match. We’re confident that that number begins with a 2.

What Press describes is similar to this excellent analysis, by Bill Henderson of the Empirical Legal Studies blog:

[T]he Big Law market is the midst of a “separating equilibrium”. In short, a few dozen elite firms are pulling away from their BigLaw peers in the competition for premium, price-insensitive work….

So what does the future look like? BigLaw will no longer be synonymous with “large full service firms”, which was the mantra throughout the ’90s. Successful financial services and labor & employment lawyers will tend to migrate to different firms [i.e., super-lucrative and less-lucrative firms, respectively].

In terms of leading New York firms — the shops with big-time transactional practices, and profits per partner of $2 million or more — we’d speculate that a move, to a starting salary at or close to $200,000, will happen in the next twelve to eighteen months. If it doesn’t happen in time for this fall recruiting cycle, it will happen in time for the next one.

The foregoing analysis assumes, of course, that U.S. law firms chug along nicely over the next year or two. If we have a general economic meltdown, then all bets are off.

Annual Survey Shows the New Reality of Associate Life [The American Lawyer]
Associate Survey: Want to Leave? Big Law’s OK With That [WSJ Law Blog]
Howrey Associate Pay Scale: What Merit Really Means [Empirical Legal Studies]

100 dollar bill Abovethelaw Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPGWe have a few associate pay raise developments to report this morning. Some of these items were announced some time ago, but they haven’t written about in these pages until now. Here they are:
1. Arent Fox: The firm now pays a starting salary of $160,000 in New York, D.C., and California, according to the firm website, which a tipster pointed out to us. (But that $20,000 clerkship bonus is pretty chintzy.)
2. Seyfarth Shaw: The firm, which dragged its feet on the last pay raise, has no current plans to raise again. From a Chicago associate:

“Our executive committee recently had a meeting and it was decided that salaries would not be raised to 160K for offices outside of New York. Chicago will continue to be behind market. I’m not so sure about the Boston, D.C. and L.A. offices, but if Chicago is not bumping, those offices are most likely staying behind as well. Maybe you should do one of those Baker & McKenzie and Greenberg Traurig bar charts on Monday morning for Seyfarth Chicago. As much as this firm is trying to be a major Chi-town player, it isn’t paying like one. We are pretty bummed.”

3. LeBoeuf Lamb: The firm has raised to the $160K scale in its Houston office. Memo after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide Pay Raise Watch: Arent Fox, Seyfarth Shaw, LeBoeuf Lamb”

gun pistol firearm Second Amendment Above the Law blog.jpgFor all of you greedy associates out there, here’s a cautionary tale. From CNN:

The owner of a car dealership has been accused of killing two employees because they kept asking for pay raises.

Rolandas Milinavicius has been charged with two counts of murder in the shooting deaths of Inga Contreras, 25, and Martynas Simokaitis, 28.

All three are from the eastern European nation of Lithuania but had been living in Atlanta, Georgia….

Oh, Atlanta.
Might this represent a new strategy for boosting profits per partner? Laying off associates (or de-equitizing less lucrative partners) generates so much bad publicity. Could knocking off a few lawyers be that much worse?
(If the victims were billing under 1950, that’s manslaughter rather than murder, as a matter of law.)
Police: Workers asked for pay bump, got bumped off [CNN]
Earlier: Fall Recruiting Open Thread: Atlanta
Bad News for Atlanta Associates?

hillary clinton is magnificent.jpgWith the 2008 presidential campaign dominating the airwaves, despite being over a year away, everyone is talking about politics (and watching awesome, politically-themed music videos). Here’s a question that a law student posed to us:

Are there differences between the politics of firms, roughly distinguishing between liberal and conservative, or are they all pretty much the same? How can a student figure out the political leanings of a particular firm?

The only source of information I’ve found so far is to research donations to presidential candidates.

Interesting. We’d say that many firms, especially in New York, are “pretty much the same” — money knows no political distinctions. But here in D.C., it’s more common for firms to lean one way or the other.
One way to figure out a firm’s political valence is to look into the former government service of its lawyers (especially high-powered partners). This method would suggest to you that WilmerHale, home of the diva-licious Jamie Gorelick, is left of center, while Gibson Dunn, home of Ted Olson, is right of center.
As our correspondent notes, campaign contributions also shed light on the political leanings of a law firm. On that subject, Lindsay Fortado of Bloomberg News has this interesting article. Here’s something that surprised us:

Lawyers at Kirkland & Ellis, the law firm that’s home to Whitewater prosecutor Kenneth Starr and Bush administration official Jay Lefkowitz, have given more to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign than to all of the top Republican candidates combined.

Kirkland, based in Chicago, is one of several corporate law firms that traditionally backed Republicans where lawyers are turning to Democratic candidates….

With respect to K&E, though, we’d guess that this varies from office to office. The Washington outpost of Kirkland, which is stocked with tons of former Scalia and Thomas clerks, is probably not funneling massive cash to La Hillary.
Which way does your firm lean? Please discuss in the comments. Thanks.
Kenneth Starr’s Law Firm Gives More Money to Clinton [Bloomberg]

100 dollar bill Above the Law Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPGHere are two updates about clerkship bonuses (a subject of interest to a limited group of readers — but those who care REALLY care):

1. Willkie Farr & Gallagher: The rumor that Willkie pays a $50,000 clerkship bonus has been confirmed. We understand this applies to both New York and Washington.

2. Akin Gump: In New York, the firm pays a $50,000 clerkship bonus. (We don’t know what they do in other offices.)

In addition, one tipster calls out WilmerHale for, well, trying to pull a Latham.
If you’d like to know why WilmerHale’s $35,000 clerkship bonus may not truly be a $35,000 clerkship bonus, read the rest of this post, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Clerkship Bonus Watch: Akin Gump and Willkie (and WilmerHale Pulls a Latham)”

100 dollar bill Abovethelaw Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPGNot much associate pay raise news right now. We have just two more announcements, neither of them super-exciting, both from firms with “Day” in their names:

1. Jones Day: The firm’s Dallas and Houston offices now pay starting salaries of $160,000. We don’t have a memo, but a tipster directed our attention to these pages on the firm website (as well as this compensation overview).

2. Day Pitney: For those of you who follow the Connecticut market, Day Pitney will be raising first-year associate salaries to $120,000 — but not until January 1, 2008. (At that time, starting salaries in the firm’s Boston and New York offices will go up to $150,000.)

The Day Pitney memo appears after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide Pay Raise Watch: Happy Days Are Here Again”

Baker McKenzie Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgRemember that cute little bar graph, prepared by some disgruntled people in the Washington office of Baker & McKenzie? It looks like it worked.
A source at the firm reports that the firm just raised associate salaries. An associates’ meeting was held earlier today. We haven’t seen the memo yet, but here are the numbers (emphasis added):

Old pay scale:

145/155/170/190/210/220/230/240

New pay scale (retroactive to 7/1):

160/170/190/210/230/250/265/280

Also, from a meeting earlier in the week, in which the upcoming recruiting season was discussed:

“The hiring partner made a comment about the bar chart posted on the web, mentioned that he was evaluating the situation, and mentioned AboveTheLaw by name. Then today we got the raise news.”

Update: We now have the Baker & McKenzie – DC memo. We’ve posted it after the jump.
Earlier: Nationwide Pay Raise Watch: What’s Up With Baker & McKenzie?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide Pay Raise Watch: Baker & McKenzie”

Paul Hastings Tower 2 Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.JPGThe rumor from the other day has been confirmed: Paul Hastings, of Transformers fame,* has raised its clerkship bonus to $50,000.
We’ve confirmed the news with two sources: an associate at the firm, and a law clerk with an outstanding offer. (We don’t know what PH pays for two clerkships, though; if you have that info, please email us.)
Update: Confirmed. Paul Hastings also pays a $70,000 bonus for two years of clerking.
* Guess the New York Times folks missed Transformers. In this article, they identify Paul Hastings as a San Francisco law firm — even though it’s really a national firm, headquartered in Los Angeles (housed in an iconic tower that looms large over the L.A. skyline).
Earlier: A Law Firm Cameo in ‘Transformers’

ten gallon hat cash money Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgWe’ve confirmed the news that Akin Gump has raised in Texas. Here’s the message from Bruce McLean, the Akin Gump chairman:

We are pleased to announce that we will be increasing associate and counsel compensation effective August 1, 2007. For first and second years, compensation will increase to $160,000 and $170,000, respectively. For subsequent years, we intend to be competitive in the market. We are in the process of determining the contours of the compensation structure for our other associate classes consistent with our Firm culture and the evolving market.

We appreciate all that you do to make this a great Firm.

In other Biglaw Texas news, Hughes & Luce is in merger talks with K&L Gates.
Hughes & Luce in Merger Talks With K&L Gates [Texas Lawyer]

Bracewell Giuliani LLP Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgAs a presidential candidate, Rudy Giuliani is picking up steam. Meanwhile, his law firm, Bracewell & Giuliani, is doling out the cash down in Texas.
From the Texas Lawyer:

On July 25, Bracewell & Giuliani joined the growing pack of Texas-based firms raising first- and second-year associate raises.

Houston-based Bracewell — with 391 lawyers in the United States, 306 of those in Texas — will raise first-year associate salaries to $160,000 and second-year associate salaries to $170,000 effective Aug. 1, says Melanie Hillis, a firm spokeswoman. Hillis says the firm, which is offering raises to first- and second-year associates in all seven of its U.S. offices, is still evaluating how to structure raises for third- through eighth-year associates.

Read the full article for an insanely detailed summary of the Texas pay raise action, which treats the subject like a high school history lesson: “On July 18, Houston-based Andrews Kurth…. On July 21, partners in Susman Godfrey….” (And who killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand?)
Speaking of Giuliani, we’re obsessed with the Obama Girl vs. Giuliani Girl music video. We admire and respect Rudy Giuliani, but even we had to laugh at this lyric: “Giuliani girl stop your fussin’ / At least Obama didn’t marry his cousin.”
(Also, the pillow fight at the end is AWESOME. And we love Kucinich Girl.)
Bracewell & Giuliani First- and Second-Years Seeing Green [Texas Lawyer]
Debate ’08: Obama Girl vs Giuliani Girl [YouTube via BarelyPolitical.com]

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