* Houston, we have a rehearing en banc. [How Appealing]
* Probation for 89-year-old who killed 10 driving through California farmer’s market; judge says he’s too sick to go to jail, even though he deserves to. [CNN]
* Grunting weightlifter may sue Planet Fitness for being lunk bigots. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Federal judge has no heart for Gitmo detainee. [Jurist]
* Houston, we have a rehearing en banc. [How Appealing]
- Biglaw, Bonuses, Cleary Gottlieb, Covington & Burling, Davis Polk, Debevoise & Plimpton, Legal Fee Voyeurism, Mergers and Acquisitions, Money, Sidley Austin, Simpson Thacher, Wachtell Lipton
Today is a banner day for mergers-and-acquisitions lawyers. Our big brother takes note of Blackstone Group’s gigantic proposed buyout of Equity Office Properties Trust, the nation’s largest office-building owner and manager, for roughly $36 billion ($20 billion plus $16 billion in assumed debt).
And that’s not the only deal. The WSJ Law Blog ticks off three more billion-dollar transactions: Bank of America acquiring U.S. Trust, Freeport-McMoRan acquiring Phelps Dodge, and Evraz Group acquiring Oregon Steel Mills.
Biglaw shops are involved in all of these transactions. The lucky law firms: Sidley Austin, Simpson Thacher, Cleary Gottlieb, Howard Rice, Wachtell Lipton, Davis Polk, Debevoise & Plimpton, Covington & Burling, and Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt (of Oregon).
Okay, “lucky” may not be the right term for people who have probably been pulling one all-nighter after another over the past few weeks (or months). But let’s look on the bright side: the fees from these deals will be delicious. And they’re likely to mean very good associate bonuses for 2006.
How delicious? This is where you come in. For this latest edition of Legal Fee Voyeurism, we’d like to ask you for any information, rumors, or quasi-informed speculation about the fees that firms will be earning on these deals. And, of course, we’re always interested in the related subject of associate bonus scuttlebutt.
Please send any such tips our way, by email. Thanks!
The Biggest LBO Ever: Does The Blackstone REIT Deal Mark the Beginning of the End of Public Companies? [DealBreaker]
M&A Mania: Good for the Lawyers! [WSJ Law Blog]
- Bonuses, Dick Grasso, Fashion, Martin Lipton, Money, Nauseating Things, Non-Sequiturs, NYSE, Pets, Prisons, Wachtell Lipton
* In the 7th grade, we abided by the “one best friend” law, so we could totally pledge our loyalty to just one dog who also definitely wouldn’t steal our boyfriend. [New York Times]
* German Chancellor Angela Merkel admits to an incident of youthful “corruption,” but would you have rather she bartered sexual favors for her driver’s license? We’re letting this slide too. [The Times]
* We hear freshmen housed in state school dorms are joining the lawsuit. [Los Angeles Times]
* Since all of my disposable income after rent, I-Pod upgrades and therapy goes to clothes, I for one can say that status is one of the more noble causes a person can embrace. I mean, honestly, without fashion, 90% of third world kids would be unemployed. [University of Chicago Law School Faculty Blog]
* Honor among greedy bastards: Corporate greedy bastards deserve their obscene paychecks, says
greedy bastard M&A lawyer Martin Lipton. [Reuters]
[Ed. note: Please note that this post is signed by Stella Q. Some of us were very happy to receive obscene paychecks courtesy of Mr. Lipton. (And if Wachtell Lipton's midyear bonuses are any indication, year-end bonuses at the firm will be especially obscene this year.)]
- Biglaw, Borat, Britney Spears, Celebrities, Dewey Ballantine, Divorce Train Wrecks, John Paul Stevens, Money, Movies, Music, Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe, Politics, Robert Bork, SCOTUS, Senate Judiciary Committee, Shakira, Supreme Court, Wachtell Lipton, Wall Street, Week in Review
* The Democrats are in the House — and Senate, too. Say hello to the new chairmen of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the House Judiciary Committee. (And goodbye to Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.)
* It was a big week for politics — and celebrity divorces. Parting ways: Britney Spears and Kevin Federline.
* Dewey Ballantine + Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe = Sexytime!!!
* Hit movie Borat + Two dumbass frat boys = Lexytime!!!
* “Shake-It-Like-Shakira” contest + Drunken Jersey girl = More Lexytime!!!
* Rumors of Justice Stevens’s retirement: Greatly exaggerated? Or for real this time around?
* Speaking of the SCOTUS, here’s a fun fact: “It is unlawful to… make a harangue or oration… in the Supreme Court Building.”
* For the record, onetime Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork “doesn’t go seducing women at a convent.”
* News flash: Your friends who went into investment banking make WAY WAY WAY more money than you. (Unless you’re a new Wachtell Lipton partner, in which case they make WAY more money than you.)
We previously requested information from you about in-house counsel compensation. We’ve received a few Skaddenfreude submissions, but not enough to publish. So if you’d be willing to give us the dish, please click here, to review the submission guidelines.
In the meantime, an article in the National Law Journal offers some information about in-house lawyer salaries. Here’s an excerpt:
In-house attorney salaries and bonuses continued their upward trajectory, with base salaries climbing 2.2 percent to 9.5 percent, and bonuses climbing as much as 71 percent, according to a new survey from legal consultant Altman Weil Inc….
Although recent graduates enjoyed only a 2.2 percent salary bump, and staff attorneys collected only 3.5 percent more in their paychecks — compared with 8.5 percent for senior attorneys, 9.5 percent for high-level specialists, and 8 percent for chief legal officers — lower-level corporate lawyers reaped massive bonuses.
Bonuses for senior attorneys jumped by 14.4 percent for senior attorneys, 62.5 percent for junior attorneys, and 71 percent for staff attorneys. Division general counsel collected 20.3 percent more in bonus money, while managing attorneys pulled down an additional 25.3 percent.
Bonuses for chief legal officers dipped to a median bonus of $132,000, compared with $104,000 for division general counsel and $29,200 for senior attorneys.
Sadly, the NLJ article doesn’t provide more basic information about average salaries or total compensation. If you have access to the full Altman Weil study, we’d love to see it. If you could send it to us by email, we’d be most grateful.
In-House Pay Continues to Climb [National Law Journal via NYLawyer.com]
Earlier: Skaddenfreude: In-House Salaries, Please
We’re getting close to that time of year again: bonus season. And here at Above the Law, we’ll be following associate bonus news very closely. Please share all your bonus news and rumors with us, by email (tips AT abovethelaw DOT com).
But before you get all excited about the extra $25,000 that might be headed your way, we’d like to put things in perspective for you. Our big brother, DealBreaker, reminds us that if were only after money — and not
crappy at math committed to lofty ideals of justice — we picked the wrong profession.
When some little snot-nosed associate from Goldman Sachs calls you up at 2:00 a.m., demanding some draft document from you ASAP, think about this: He’s not just your client; he’s also much richer than you. As DB points out, this year the average Goldman employee will take home $658,946 — including an average bonus close to $400K.
Yes, GS is at the top of the pyramid; but the other investment banks pay their people pretty well too. Check out the average compensation figures for various Wall Street firms by clicking here. And to see what more senior bankers (e.g., managing directors) are taking home, click here.
Bonus Watch: Battling Estimates [DealBreaker]
Bonus Watch: Goldman Sachs Average Predicted To Hit $397,707 [DealBreaker]
Wall Street’s Wild Windfall [Bloomberg News via Newsday]
Wachtell Lipton, the obscenely profitable and dazzlingly prestigious New York law firm, just elected three lawyers to its
millionaires’ club partnership. By firm tradition, the partnership vote takes place on Election Day each year.
Expect an official announcement tomorrow; we bring you the news today. The three lucky, talented, and hardworking new partners are:
– Martin J.E. Arms (litigation; pictured inset, left);
– Gregory E. Ostling (corporate; pictured inset, center); and
– Eric M. Rosof (finance and restructuring) (pictured inset, right).
The promotions take effect on January 1, 2007. Upon information and belief, newly minted Wachtell partners take home seven-figure paychecks in their first year of partnership. This shouldn’t be that surprising, given that (1) average profits per partner at WLRK were $3,790,000 in 2005, and (2) Wachtell partner compensation is lockstep by seniority (except for a handful of senior partners, including Messrs. Wachtell and Lipton, who are “off the grid”).
We used to work at Wachtell Lipton, so we can pass along random tidbits about this high-powered trio:
Martin Arms: We worked a lot with him on the Silverstein/World Trade Center case. Very smart; British-born, and retaining a hint of Englishness; worked extensively with Herb Wachtell (an obvious plus in the partnership race).
Greg Ostling: He was in corporate and we were in litigation, so we didn’t get to know him terribly well. We’d see him around the halls. Snazzy dresser; good-looking.
Eric Rosof: We sat next to him and shared a secretary. Nice guy; a bit on the quiet side, almost shy; extremely hard-working (even by Wachtell standards).
Martin, Greg, and Eric: CONGRATULATIONS!!!
(And if we ever grab drinks sometime, you’re buying… )
A familiar paradox about leftist celebrities in the entertainment industry is that their embrace of progressivism almost never includes a wholehearted embrace of progressive taxation, i.e., the principle that the richer you get, the larger the percentage of your income you ought to pay in taxes.
The latest example is U2′s Bono, a committed and unusually sophisticated anti-poverty crusader, who is taking surprisingly little heat for the decision by his band, U2, to relocate its music-publishing business from Ireland to the Netherlands in order to shelter its songwriting royalties from taxation.
The difference in taxation regimes is worth millions to Bono and his bandmates:
After Ireland said it would scrap a break that lets musicians and artists avoid paying taxes on royalties, Bono and his U2 bandmates earlier this year moved their music publishing company to the Netherlands. The Dublin group, which Forbes estimates earned $110 million in 2005, will pay about 5 percent tax on their royalties, less than half the Irish rate.
But, just as there is with pretty much every legal and policy issue, there’s a counterargument. Check out some of the comments over at TaxProf Blog:
“The fallacy in the argument that Bono is a hypocrite for avoiding Irish income taxes is the assumption that the Irish government can do more good with the money than Bono can.”
“The subtext — political progressives should leave tax dollars on the table, rather than take advantage of planning opportunities?”
Okay, that’s more than enough substance for an ATL post. Did we tell you about our Bono sighting in New York a few weeks ago? It was the highlight of the hour-and-a-half we spent waiting for a table at The Spotted Pig (which was shorter than the two-hour wait we were quoted, and worth it).
Bono, of course, did not have to wait for a table. And we’re fine with that. We love celebrities!!!
Bono, Tax Avoider [Slate]
Slate: Bono, Tax Avoider; The Hypocrisy of U2 [TaxProf Blog]
Bono, Preacher on Poverty, Tarnishes Halo With Irish Tax Move [Bloomberg]
Angelina Jolie may soon be defending a lawsuit — and not from Jennifer Aniston alleging alienation of affection. Reuters reports:
A Cambodian charity threatened on Wednesday to sue Angelina Jolie for breach of contract, saying the Hollywood star had reneged on a promise to give $1.5 million over five years to wildlife conservation.
Some of you may recall, from first-year Contracts, that a promise to make a charitable contribution may be enforceable without consideration (under certain circumstances).
How worried should Jolie be about this possible legal action?
“I have been asking Jolie and her lawyer to give me an appropriate answer, but so far no answer,” [Cambodian Vision in Development head] Mounh Sarath told Reuters from the western town of Battambang.
“Now I give her one week and if there is still no answer I will a file suit in the local court of Battambang.”
“The local court of Battambang”? Angelina, watch out!
No, seriously. That court is probably more friendly to plaintiffs — and less sympathetic to defendants with deep pockets — than a state trial court in Mississippi.
(We have not addressed the issue of jurisdiction. But given how Angelina likes to cavort through developing nations — including but not limited to Cambodia, birthplace of her adopted son, Maddox — we think that adequte contacts exist.)
Cambodian Charity Threatens Actress Jolie with Lawsuit [Reuters]