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Arnold Porter logo.jpgEd. note: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that the firm has not yet communicated to its associates about salaries. This was correct as of late December, but shortly before the new year, the firm made its announcement. We have amended the post accordingly, and we apologize for the error.
It’s a brand new year. Yay. Will this be the year that the recession ends? We’re hopeful, as are you (based on the results of our reader poll thus far).
Here’s some good news to start off the day. A source at Arnold & Porter reports on the firm’s unfreezing of salaries (as well as lump-sum payments representing deferred comp):

Arnold & Porter just announced we are bumping one class year, plus those in good standing are getting their deferred 2009 compensation. Classes of 2008 and 2009 are both at $160,000 for 2010.

This salary thaw is certainly welcome news — but note that it doesn’t take A&P up to the full New York scale. In 2010, under the NYC scale, class of 2008 associates should be earning $170,000 (not $160,000), class of 2007 associates should be earning $185,000 (not $170,000), etc.
The full memorandum, which was issued on December 30, also confirms upcoming bonus payments:

Consistent with the Firm’s longstanding commitment to be competitive in the marketplace, the Firm will be paying bonuses to eligible associates in respect of their 2009 performance. The bonuses will be based not only on the number of billable, pro bono and business development hours but also with attention to the results of the associate review process, particularly the quality of work and whether an individual has performed at a level commensurate with his or her seniority. Compliance with Firm policies also will be taken into consideration.

What can be expected regarding bonuses at Arnold & Porter? A second tipster explains:

A&P pays no “base” bonus. Bonuses have traditionally been based on hours. Last year, I ended up with more than I would have on the standard New York scale. But some ended up with much less, or none.

Check out the full memo, after the jump.

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Blackwater logo.jpg* Happy 2010. Welcome back to work. We read the New York Times on Sunday so you wouldn’t have to. [Above The Law]
* Judge Ricardo Urbina throws out the baby with the Blackwater because of the DOJ’s overzealousness. [Washington Post]
* Patricia Cohen, the ex-wife of the hedge fund billionaire Steven A. Cohen, swapped out lawyers for her RICO suit against her ex. Paul Batista taps out. Gaytri Kachroo enters the ring. [Dealbook/New York Times]
* Montana Supreme Court lends a hand to physician-assisted suicide. [Christian Science Monitor]
* The L.A. city attorney’s office wishes Mike Tyson a happy new year. [Los Angeles Times]
* New TSA rules mean more frisking for certain nationals. [Politico]

New York Times NYT newspaper.jpgIf you happen to be on the frigid East Coast today, currently experiencing the coldest temperatures of the season, grab yourself a cup of cocoa and a copy of the Sunday New York Times. The NYT often has articles of interest to a legal audience, but this weekend’s edition has an especially high number of stories either by or about the boldface names of the legal profession. To wit:
John Yoo John C Yoo John Choon Yoo law professor.jpg1. Power of Attorney: Questions for John Yoo. Deborah Solomon interviews John Yoo, the Berkeley law professor perhaps most well-known for his authorship of the so-called “torture memos.” Considering her liberal politics and modus operandi as an interviewer — we’ve previously described her as “snarky, cranky, exceedingly direct” — we were expecting her to go to town on Yoo.
But Professor Yoo actually comes across very well in the short Q-and-A (and is looking newly svelte in the accompanying photo). He’s smart, funny, and charming — not a surprise to us, based on our personal interactions with him, but perhaps a surprise to some who know only the cartoon villain depicted by the mainstream media.
2. The 30-Minute Interview: Jonathan L. Mechanic. An interesting interview with real estate super-lawyer Jonathan Mechanic, chairman of the real estate department of Fried Frank (and previously profiled here). We learn that Mechanic, in addition to being a top real estate attorney, is also a real estate investor: he owns retail and commercial properties in Bergen County, NJ (where we grew up).
Three more stories, after the jump.

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Happy New Year 2010 Above the Law blog AboveTheLaw legal blog.jpgHappy New Year, dear readers! Welcome to 2010. May the new year bring you peace, prosperity, a new Aeron chair, and all sorts of other good things.
We looked back at our 2009 “Happy New Year” post. It featured a reader poll: “Will 2009 be a better year for the legal profession than 2008?”
A narrow majority — 50.6 percent, to be exact — predicted that 2009 would be worse. Congratulations, guys; it seems you were right, at least with respect to Biglaw. According to the Layoff Tracker over at Lawshucks, over 14,000 people have been laid off by major law firms since January 1, 2008. Of those 14,000 folks, over 12,000 were laid off in calendar year 2009.
Of course, layoffs aren’t the only way to measure health. Maybe firms laid off personnel to improve their bottom lines? But we predict that when the American Lawyer releases its data on profits per partner in 2009, they will show big declines from 2008.
But hey, they say that green shoots are popping up all over the place. Take our reader poll about whether 2010 will be better than 2009, plus share your new year resolutions with us, after the jump.

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Antonin Scalia Justice Antonin Scalia hands up.jpg* Professor David Bernstein asks: Could a law school lose its ABA accreditation if its faculty members are insufficiently supportive of racial preferences diversity? [Volokh Conspiracy via Instapundit]

* Professor Michael McCann asks: Was Coach Mike Leach wrongfully terminated by Texas Tech? [Sports Law Blog]

* Justice Scalia has a bee in his bonnet (or under his robe) over “choate” — but is he wrong? [New York Times]

* A cartoon-based exam question: coming to a law school near you? [Prawfsblawg]

* Hey TSA: Leave… the bloggers… alone! [Associated Press]

* Paul Weiss partner Steven Simkin can’t make his ex-wife “shoulder her share” of Madoff-related losses. [New York Law Journal]

* A recap of 2009, in video form. [Daily Dish / Andrew Sullivan]

solo practitioner solo practice hang shingle.jpgWe have linked in the past to Big Debt, Small Law. Like Third Tier Reality, which we linked to yesterday, Big Debt focuses on exposing what the writer sees as the fraud of American legal education and the legal profession more generally.

The bloggers behind these and similar sites — deeply bitter and angry, but often viciously funny — vent at length about non-elite law schools that lure in students with false promises of post-graduation job opportunities and six-figure salaries. Students at these schools take on six figures of educational debt, devote three years of their lives to law school, and then can’t find jobs when they graduate. If they’re “lucky,” they secure employment as contract attorneys, reviewing documents for $21 an hour — and even these temp attorney jobs are disappearing, thanks to outsourcing.

Is hanging up a shingle, and going into solo practice, a viable way out from under this debt and misery? We have previously offered several positive posts about solo practice.

But Law Is 4 Losers, the author of Big Debt, Small Law, has his doubts. For the sake of balance, let’s look at his objections.

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Fried Frank Julie Kamps.jpgJulie Kamps graduated from Harvard Law School in 1998 and moved to New York to work for Fried Frank. She spent 10 years as a litigation associate at the firm and was let go in January 2009.
Anyone who spends ten years at a firm without making partner might be tempted to sue. In Kamps’s case, she alleges that Fried Frank discriminated against her because she is a lesbian, that she was sexually harassed by two partners — male and female — and that false promises of impending partnership were made to her over the last four years.
Kamps previously filed an EEOC complaint, describing herself as an “openly lesbian, non-gender-conforming female.” Now she’s suing the firm for $50 million, plus interest, plus attorneys’ fees, plus reinstatement as an associate at the firm, plus promotion to partner. She appears to be representing herself (just like Aaron Charney, who initially proceeded pro se when he sued Sullivan & Cromwell).
Though she apparently wants to return to the firm, she does not hold back in ripping the firm a new one. She describes Fried Frank as misogynistic, anti-minority, tolerant of female-on-female sexual harassment, and, worst of all, partnership teases. After reading through her lawsuit, we wonder why she would want to go back to a firm that she tears to shreds in her complaint.
We were distracted from this wondering, though, by the loud ripping sounds. Hell hath no fury like a lesbian tenth-year associate scorned. We’ve got excerpts and the full complaint available for your perusal, after the jump.

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Robert Morgenthau Robert Morris Morgenthau Robert M Morgenthau Bob Morgenthau.jpg* Robert Morgenthau, the 90-year-old legal legend, concludes 35 years of service as district attorney of Manhattan. [CNN]
* A gestational mother is held to be the legal mother of twin girls, even though she contracted to carry them for her brother and his husband and is not genetically related to the twins. [New York Times]
* A status report on Obama nominees to judicial and executive branch positions. The Senate has confirmed 13 judges; 19 judicial nominees are pending. [Washington Post]
* Charlie Sheen could be prosecuted for domestic violence even if his wife, Brooke Mueller, doesn’t want to cooperate. [ABC News]
* Speaking of possible domestic violence, Tiger Woods was sporting “a fat lip” when he met with law enforcement three days after his car crash. [TMZ]
* What it feels like to be hit with a malpractice lawsuit. [New York Times]
* What it feels like to “work” the week between Christmas and New Year’s. [Washington Post]

Katie Couric CBS News anchor anchorwoman.jpg* Guru gets smacked down for filing a downward facing dog of a lawsuit. Potential defamation plaintiffs, take note. [Bad Lawyer]
* We aren’t the only ones who make grammatical errors; even President Obama does. [Althouse]
* Loyola 2L, 2.0? “Do not attend [law school] unless: (1) you get into a top 8 law school; (2) you get a full-tuition scholarship to attend; (3) you have employment as an attorney secured through a relative or close friend….” [Third Tier Reality]
* Ted Frank: threat or menace? Commenters discuss. [Mother Jones]
* One way to save journalism: cut the $15 million salary of Katie Couric (and others of her ilk), and redistribute it in the direction of NPR et al. [Concurring Opinions]
* We hereby nominate Blawg Review #204 as the 2009 Blawg Review of the Year. [Blawg Review]

Mike Leach Coach Michael Leach.jpgWe don’t know anything about college football, but apparently many of you do — and are eager to talk about the firing earlier today of coach Mike Leach, by Texas Tech University. There are a number of legal angles here.
First, the disputes between Leach and Texas Tech have already resulted in litigation. Earlier this week, following his suspension in the wake of allegations that he mistreated a player, Leach moved for a temporary restraining order and injunction. His motion for a TRO appears here.
There was supposed to be a hearing on the TRO this afternoon, but TTU fired Leach before the hearing. From ESPN:

[Leach's attorney Ted] Liggett said that Texas Tech general counsel Pat Campbell approached him outside the courtroom and told him that win, lose or draw in the hearing, Leach was out, effective immediately.

Liggett told the judge there was no need for the hearing on Leach’s request that he be reinstated to coach the Alamo Bowl. Texas Tech plays Michigan State on Saturday in San Antonio….

Liggett said he planned to file a lawsuit on Leach’s behalf against the school “soon.”

“We can guarantee that the fight has just begun,” he said.

A second legal connection, after the jump.

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Lawyer of the Year 2009 AboveTheLaw blog Above the Law ATL.jpgThe year 2009 is almost over, but not just yet — which is a good thing. This means we still have time to solicit your nominations for Above the Law’s LAWYER OF THE YEAR.

In 2008, you crowned then-President Elect Barack Obama your Lawyer of the Year. After being named ATL’s Lawyer of the Year, winning the Nobel Peace Prize must have felt anticlimactic.

The year before that, you went in a very different direction. In 2007, the prize was bestowed upon Loyola 2L. For those of you who weren’t reading the site back then, here’s a concise explanation from the WSJ Law Blog (which also named Loyola 2L its LOTY):

So who — or what — is Loyola 2L? For the non-cognoscenti, he, or she, is purportedly a second-year student, or “2L,” at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. And his claim to fame? For over a year, Loyola 2L has beaten a loud and consistent drum of discontent around the Web by posting in online forums about the job prospects for graduates of nonelite law schools.

Loyola 2L turned out to be something of a Cassandra. He was sounding the alarm about the potential perils of going to a non-elite law school — and taking on six figures worth of debt to do so — back in 2007, well before the legal job market really went into the tank.

Back to the present. Instructions for nominating a 2009 Lawyer of the Year, after the jump.

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law firm holiday card contest AboveTheLaw Above the Law.jpgBefore Christmas, we highlighted one law firm holiday card that we particularly enjoyed (from Haynes and Boone). We also invited readers to email us with other holiday cards we might enjoy. We stated that, if we received sufficient submissions, we might even hold a contest.

Lo and behold, we did receive enough entrants. So we are happy to hold Above the Law’s first holiday card contest.

Check out the nominees and vote — you’re stuck in the office between Christmas and New Year’s, and you’re bored — after the jump.

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