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Hogan Hartson logo.jpgMuch of the recent talk about Hogan & Hartson has focused on their merger with Lovells. While transatlantic mergers thrill the imagination, back on the ground in the States, people are still concerned about their paychecks.
Hogan has long had a two-track salary system. The higher track paid market salary with the expectation that associates bill 1950 hours. The lower track paid less and had an 1800-hour billable expectation. Associates traditionally got to choose which track they wanted.
But Hogan turned its system on its head last spring. In April, Hogan placed associates in the lower salary track if they weren’t on target with their hours through the first quarter. The firm promised to pay the money back at the end of the year if associates did hit 1950 hours.
Well, here we are at the end of the year, and Hogan & Hartson is making restitution. And it’s paying a bonus. And it’s unfreezing salaries (although it’s not giving its people a “true-up” to where they would have been without last year’s salary freeze).
The Hogan salary structure for its two tracks, plus discussion, after the jump.

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2009 Associate bonus watch above the law.JPGLast year, associate bonuses at Wachtell Lipton dipped below 100 percent of base salary, for the first time since 2005. This year, they continued their downward slide.

But given the problems plaguing both the broader economy and the legal profession, bonuses didn’t go down by as much as many WLRK associates expected. The general reaction at 51 West 52nd Street was one of pleasant surprise: “Less than last year, but better than expected,” according to one source. The bonuses were announced last week, around the time of the Wachtell holiday party.

So how much are your friends and classmates at Wachtell taking home this year? Find out, after the jump.

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pay freeze salary freeze pay cut law firm.jpgAs firms start to unfreeze salaries, all in different ways, we at Above the Law have started to notice a lot of confusion about what these unfrozen salary structures look like. We’ve been seeing a lot of comments and emails like this one:

wtf is a true up vs. a thaw…dude…not everyone reads this blog 24/7…these are critical details that you are leaving up to assumption that the reader knows wtf nerd language you are talking about…

Good point.
To help clarify things, we have put together a little chart. To make things easier, we have looked at the salary of a fictitious soon-to-be third year from the incoming class of 2007. It seems appropriate to look at this class of people; since they are about to enter their third full year of work, they’ve experienced the recession in all of its glorious forms. And looking at one class’ salary over the years is less confusing than looking at everybody’s salary at every level.
To refresh your memory, here’s what our class of 2007 associate has been paid at a top tier firm that didn’t freeze, year-by-year. A person working at Davis Polk, for instance:
’07 (stub-first year) = $160K
’08 (full first year) = $160K
’09 (second year) = $170K
’10 (third year) = $185K
But not everybody can work at Davis Polk (or someplace similar). How the other half lives after the jump.

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Career Center AboveTheLaw Lateral Link ATL.jpgWe received over 1,000 responses to last week’s Career Center survey on whether your vacation plans have been affected by the economic downturn.  The results reveal that almost 70% of associates are still taking vacation time, regardless of whether they have met their billable hours or not.  Less than 10% of respondents say that they are not taking vacation because they worry it might look bad.  However, almost a quarter of respondents report that they are actually too busy to use their full vacation time this year.
Check out the full survey results after the jump — and visit the Career Center, powered by Lateral Link — for more on which firm has deferred start dates again, which firm recently announced a mega-merger with a London-based firm, and which firm reportedly awarded 2009 bonuses of up to $90,000.
Full survey results, after the jump.

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gift wrapped office.jpgThe two-thirds of the Above The Law team in New York report that it’s starting to look and feel a lot like Christmas in the Northeast. Some of those reports are overly graphic. The one-third of the team spending the holiday in Florida attests to warmth and sunshine.
This post is dedicated to the loved ones in your life, who want last minute shopping advice. For many lawyerly types, a new job would be the best gift of all, but that’s hard to wrap. Though not impossible.
We’ve got five easier gifts to give, after the jump.

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KL Gates logo.JPGYesterday, we reported that K&L Gates cut salaries for its incoming associates. The salary cut is just for a few of the firm’s many offices, but it looks like I got the offices wrong. The firm still hasn’t responded to my request for clarification, but tipsters who work at K&L Gates have helped set the record straight.
Yesterday’s report was based on phone calls the firm made to incoming associates over the weekend. But K&L Gates also held meetings on Friday with associates in the firm’s various offices. The salary cuts on incoming associates will only affect four of the firm’s offices: Charlotte, Dallas, Raleigh, and Seattle. But the cuts will affect each office differently. A tipster reports:

They cut salaries for incoming first years in only 4 of the 33 offices, and the salary cuts depended upon which city they’re in. For instance, Dallas incoming salaries were dropped from 160k to 150k.

Okay, but that’s just the bad news and it only affects people about to start with the firm. For associates already at the firm, there was a lot of good news from the Friday meetings.
Details after the jump.

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the 2000s decade.jpg* The decade’s 25 biggest legal stories. [National Law Journal]
* A former Fried Frank litigation associate, Julie Kamps, who previously filed a employment discrimination claim, is now filing a lawsuit against the firm, alleging sexual harassment by a female partner and discrimination because she is gay. She’s suing for $50 million and partnership. If granted the latter, that could be awkward. [AmLaw Daily]
* Hedge fund Fortress Investment Group sues Dechert. And it’s Marc Dreier’s fault. [Wall Street Journal via ABA Journal]
* A benchslap for California AG Jerry Brown’s office from the Ninth Circuit. [San Francisco Chronicle]
* An interview with Mark Herrmann, formerly of Drug and Device Law, about lawyerly blogging. [Chicago Tribune]
* Being forced to remain male is cruel and unusual punishment? [Associated Press]

  • 21 Dec 2009 at 7:02 PM
  • Uncategorized

Latham & Watkins: We Have Good News

Latham Watkins LLP lw logo.jpgIt has not been a great year for Latham & Watkins. Everybody knows that the firm laid off a ton of people — 440, to be exact — in February. But it was the firm’s decision to fire first-years who had been at the firm for just a few months that seemed to shock the conscience of Above the Law readers.
The firm took a major hit in the Vault prestige rankings, plummeting from #7 to #17. And we’ve heard anecdotal evidence that Latham had a rough go of it on the recruiting trail this fall.
But perhaps Latham & Watkins is poised for a comeback? Back in October, we reported that the firm was considering unfreezing associate salaries. Last week, we speculated that Latham might be prepared to pay mega-bonuses this year.
Now additional details are leaking out about the firm’s planned salary thaw, and its bonuses. And things are looking good. After a year in the Biglaw doghouse, it looks like Latham may finally be trying to buy its way back into the light.
Details after the jump.

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Accenture Tiger ad.JPG
* The law firm at the center of the mini-Tiger cover-up story. [WSJ Law Blog]
* You can’t imprison every whack job who disagrees with you. [The Legal Satyricon]
* The Clintons are so last century. [ABA Journal]
* Not only is being naked in your own home a crime in Virginia, it’s also comparable to being a bank robber. Virginia, please get the stick out of your butt. [True/Slant]
* Additional ideas on lawyerly holiday cards. [Courtoons]
* Why does the shortest day of the year always feel so long? [The Volokh Conspiracy]
* They probably should ban bullfighting. It’s progress. But I can’t help feeling like a little something will be lost as society does the right thing. [Transracial]

Mark Lambert Cochran Law Firm.jpgWe mentioned this story on Friday (second item). But since we’re continuing to get tips about it, we thought it might merit further mention.
From today’s New York Daily News:

A lawyer got his nose bent out of shape during an altercation over an occupied bathroom stall — and retaliated by chomping off part of a man’s schnoz.

Mark Lambert admitted during an interview with WMC-TV to biting off a portion of Greg Herbers’ nose, according to a report on the TV station’s Web site. The bite occurred during a fracas at Memphis-area hot spot Dish.

Herbers is now reportedly suing Lambert, claiming he needs plastic surgery and might have to wear a prosthetic nose. He also claims Lambert swallowed what he bit off.

Silly lawyer! Noses are for picking, not for eating.
For the record, Lambert denies eating Herbers’s flesh — he claims that he spat, didn’t swallow.
More details, plus a gory picture, after the jump.

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GQ logo.JPGCondé Nast, which publishes Vogue, GQ, and a number of other publications that can be found at the airport, is suing to defend its pictures. Fashionista reports:

This morning brings news of a more literal form of infringement, filed by none other than Condé Nast. Who are they battling, you ask? An internet hacker–which is vaguely ironic given the company’s somewhat tepid relationship with the web for so many years.

Man, why hack when you can “fair use” your way out of so many problems? This hacker clearly should have gone to law school like everybody else these days.
Still, the weight of a major publishing company arrayed against one internet hacker is hardly a fair fight … for Condé Nast. But they have to try.
Click on the link below to read all of the details.
Adventures in Copyright: Hackers Edition [Fashionista]

2009 Associate bonus watch above the law.JPGTime for a belated bonus announcement. A few weeks ago, associate bonuses were announced at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft.

The bonuses were basically on the Cravath scale, provided you meet “the bonus criteria set forth in the bonus policy.” We’re advised that the bonus criteria focus for the most part on hours, with bonuses triggered at around 2000 hours (1900 billable).

In other CWT news, we hear that two real estate partners — Alan Lawrence and John Busillo — are leaving the firm for Arnold & Porter. Sources describe them as “heavy hitters” who “still have some business.”

The CWT bonus memo, after the jump.

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(Plus news of some partner moves.)

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