Money

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?”

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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.”)

Shearman Logo.gif
A reader e-mails:

please do a post of shearman’s pathetic clerkship bonus, currently at $15,000!!!!!!!

Okay, you got our attention with the seven exclamation points.
Lat posted a clerkship bonus List o’ Shame last week that featured the top firms below the new standard of $50k:
1. Wachtell ($0)
8. Latham ($35k) [see update on Latham here]
10. Kirkland ($35k)
11. Covington ($35k outside NY)
14. Wilmer ($35k)
15. Shearman ($15k)
16. Sidley ($35k)
17. Williams & Connolly ($25k)
18. Gibson ($35k)
19. Arnold ($15k $35k)
20. OMM ($35k)
22. Jones Day ($35k)
23. MoFo ($35k)
24. Hogan ($35k)
25. Ropes & Gray ($35K outside NY but $70K for 2yr clerkship)
Shearman has really separated itself from the pack — and not in a good way. Again, the list above is itself a list of shame, so that $15k is really eye-catching. What gives?
Administrative note: The power just went out in our “office,” so in the grand tradition of ATL office hours, we’re hanging out at the Panera Bread in Greystone, Alabama. We trust we’ll be swamped with visitors soon!

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Yet another article on unhappy lawyers: This time it’s from the UK, where it seems the legal profession has lost its “lustre.”

Nearly a quarter of you want to quit. In a desperately competitive recruitment market, that’s just about the last thing law firm managers need to hear.
Shocking? Yes. Not many apparently sought-after professions have a quarter of their members wanting to quit. The whole issue of work-life balance has now, surely, reached a tipping point – and not just for overworked associates who are looking for a way out.
Thirty one per cent of associates would like to leave the law; 20 per cent of partners would happily quit; 22 per cent of barristers fancy a change; and a hefty 29 per cent of in-house counsel would like a life outside the law.

There’s more on the survey from the Financial Times, which notes that UK salaries have gone up by 15 percent or more recently.
Meanwhile, in India, young lawyers are disillusioned by a cumbersome litigation system, with its “interminable procedural delays” and outright drudgery: “Many young lawyers complained that they only ended up carrying briefs for the senior counsels during their stint.”
Lawyers bitching about their jobs: the universal language.

question mark Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgAre WilmerHale summer associates missing out on the salary bump? Wilmer recently raised first-year salaries to $160,000, and you’d think the firm’s summers would be earning that salary as well. But maybe not. Here’s a disgruntled e-mail from a current WilmerHale summer:

I hope that this is tip-worthy – because it certainly is a topic of hot discussion amongst the Boston summers I know, and I’m curious what is going on at other firms… So here goes:

So I am a summer associate at WilmerHale in Boston. And as abovethelaw knows, after the big, drawn out jumping-of-Boston-firms to match Ropes at 160,000, Wilmer finally caved and went up as well. Now, for whatever reason, the general consensus among the summers is that we’ve been led to believe that the salary hike for associates applies to the weekly rate that summers are paid as well (meaning we should be getting 3100 per week). Wilmer said that the salary raise was effective June 1st.

Lo, however, the WilmerHale Boston summers have received 2 paychecks since then, and both have continued paying the 2800 a week.

More analysis from our WilmerHale contact, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “WilmerHale Summers: “Where’s Our Raise?””

100 dollar bill Abovethelaw Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPGThanks for your responses to our recent call for memos. Here are two more firms that have announced associate pay raises:

1. Crowell & Moring: Starting salaries to $160,000, effective August 1. Minimum billables to 1900 hours, effective September 1. Associates who do not wish to meet the new minimum are invited to reach “alternative arrangements” with the firm.

2. Dow Lohnes: No, Rupert Murdoch is not trying to buy them. Dow Lohnes is an AmLaw 200 law firm with a significant presence in Atlanta. Will their move to the $160K scale encourage other Atlanta firms to follow suit?

Full memos, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide Pay Raise Watch: More Announcements, and Weekend Open Thread”

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