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]

Kirkland Ellis LLP clerkship bonuses Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgPeople, please, be patient. We heard you the first time you asked us to confirm that Kirkland & Ellis has raised its clerkship bonus. It was not necessary to reiterate this request in the comments to every single post on ATL.
We reached out to Kirkland earlier this week, shortly after we started hearing this rumor, but we didn’t hear back from them until just now. From firm spokesman Brian Pitts:

I can confirm Kirkland’s clerkship bonus has increased to $50,000 and that it applies across all offices. As for serial clerkships and/or multi-year clerkships, Kirkland’s practice is to evaluate those on a case-by-case basis. Please let me know if you need anything else.

We thank Mr. Pitts and K&E for this information. We appreciate it greatly when firms respond to our requests for information that are relevant to prospective associates (many of whom read ATL).

law firms dinosaurs New York Observer Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgIn this week’s New York Observer, there’s an article (by yours truly) that may be of interest to ATL readers. It’s entitled Profits vs. Partners: Are the country’s top law firms going the way of the dinosaur?
You can check it out by clicking here. The piece has also been picked up by DealBook and the WSJ Law Blog (with a somewhat snarky title — but if we can dish it, we can take it).
The point of the article is not that law firms are becoming more businesslike and profit-oriented (yawn), but what this means for the profession — and also for firms as profit-maximizing businesses. Here’s an excerpt:

It’s a noteworthy shift for the legal profession, whose denizens like to think of themselves as intellectual types—and view their Wall Street cousins as money-obsessed philistines. Many angst-filled attorneys suspect they should have gone into something more tweedy and creative than relocating commas within merger agreements. As Clarence Darrow said, “Inside every lawyer is the wreck of a poet.”

Such questions of professional identity aren’t just theoretical; they have ramifications for law firms as businesses. If law firms become “just like banks,” but with smaller paychecks, firms may lose their appeal to the talent they must attract in order to thrive.

In other words: Is Biglaw, by emphasizing money so much, hoisting itself by its own petard? If it’s all about the benjamins (baby), why not just go to an i-bank or hedge fund? Are firms going to lose their top talent to the world of finance — which would then impair Biglaw’s ability to thrive as a business?
(If Biglaw has nothing to offer but monetary rewards, which are offered in larger amounts by Wall Street, will law firms end up as dumping grounds for the mathematically-impaired? (Please don’t take offense; that includes us. We can’t balance our checkbook without a calculator.))
More excerpts and discussion — including predictions from law firm consultants about when the next round of associate pay raises is coming, which we know you’re dying to hear — after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Profits vs. Partners: Is Biglaw Going the Way of the Dinosaur?”

Avenue of the Americas Sixth Avenue Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgHere is the latest unverified gossip making the rounds among summer associates in New York City:

“I’m not summering at Davis Polk, but I have some friends who are, and I’ve been to a few of their events. The general assumption among people there was that the firm is going to $180,000, probably in time for fall recruiting season.”

“My career adviser at Cornell said that it is all but declared that NYC associate starting salaries will be going up to $195K. Is there truth to this? I haven’t heard it anywhere else?”

At this point, since such rumors have been percolating for weeks, we don’t put much stock in them. But maybe we can have a meta-conversation about them: What does the persistence of these (perhaps ridiculous) rumors say about law students and young lawyers?
(Other than that they have huge-ass student loans and/or a taste for the finer things in life. E.g., Cristal.)

WilmerHale Wilmer Hale summer associate pay Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgToday’s Washington Post has a great article, by Ian Shapira, about the adventures of summer associates here in the nation’s capital. This is our favorite part (emphasis added):

[B]udding lawyers say they spend much of their office time looking for better deals. They peruse such Web sites as Above the Law, a must-read legal blog written by David Lat, a former federal prosecutor in Newark and former co-editor of the Wonkette politics and media blog.

One of Above the Law’s scoops this month was headlined “WilmerHale Summers: Where’s Our Raise?” The blog published an e-mail from an anonymous summer associate in the Boston office who complained that the summers weren’t getting the customary pro-rated weekly equivalent of first-year associates. Instead of about $3,100 a week ($160,000 a year), the tipster wrote, they were getting only $2,800 (about $145,000 a year).

More discussion of this delightful piece, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Summer Associates: It Was the Best of Times, It Was the Best of Times”

Thompson Knight LLP Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgWe can confirm the rumor that Thompson & Knight has raised first- and second-year associate salaries. Management recently circulated a press release to associates, along with this brief intro:

“This press release will go out shortly. We will elicit your thoughts on the more senior associate structure.”

The press release — which isn’t on the firm website yet, but should be soon — appears after the jump.
Update: The Texas Lawyer has an article about the raises available here.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide Pay Raise Watch: Thompson & Knight”

Susman Godfrey LLP Above the Law blog.JPGThe folks over at litigation powerhouse Susman Godfrey like to toot their own horn. But that’s okay, because they have a lot to boast about. The firm has been tremendously successful, and it pays its people very well (especially in terms of bonuses).
So this news should come as no surprise to anyone. From the Texas Lawyer:

Over the weekend, Houston-based Susman Godfrey joined the growing list of Texas-based firms opting to compensate Texas associates at rates comparable to their New York counterparts.

According to firm spokesman Shawn Raymond, the partners at Susman decided on July 21 to raise associate salaries effective Aug. 1 to $160,000 for first-years, $170,000 for second-years, $175,000 for third-years, $180,000 for fourth-years, and $190,000 for fifth years — after which lawyers at the firm are considered candidates for partnership.

“We want to attract the best and brightest at this firm,” Raymond says when asked about the changes.

That’s one short partnership track — which makes up for the relatively small salary increases after the second year. (And considering that pay levels for Texas associates beyond the second year are still up in the air, it’s not clear that Susman is even below market.)
Susman Godfrey Raises Associate Salaries, Effective Aug. 1 [Texas Lawyer]

pile of cash or money Above the Law legal blog.jpgOkay, that’s a bit of an understatement. Check out this interesting study, authored by Steven N. Kaplan and Joshua D. Rauh.
Here’s a money quote (hehe) from their paper (p. 31):

“[T]he representation of top corporate lawyers in the top 0.5% and top 0.1% AGI [adjusted gross income] brackets has increased substantially over time.”

Translation: Biglaw partners are taking up more and more space among the ranks of the rich.
What is happening to the pay of law partners? [Volokh Conspiracy]
Related: Sally Struthers Asks: ‘What About the Children Partners?’

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