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Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for plane.jpg* Airport security rules being reexamined after the Northwest 253 scare. [New York Times]
* Advice from lawyers who graduated during the 1990s recession: “Don’t panic.” [ABA Journal]
* This may be more embarrassing than ordering an appletini. [New York Post]
* We hope 2010 brings closure for Dahlia Lithwick’s novel, which she hoped to finish before the start of the SCOTUS 2009 term. If she finishes it before the term ends, that would truly be Saving Face. [Slate]
* Long Island town makes it illegal to “wave while Latino.” [Gothamist]
* L.A. lawyers know how to entertain. [ABC News]
* R.I.P., Percy Sutton. [Washington Post]

Elie Mystal Kashmir Hill David Lat ATL editors Above the Law editors.jpgTwas the night before Christmas, and all through the Internetz,
Not many creatures were clicking, not even Biglaw cadets;
The BlackBerrys were silenced and set aside with care,
Because RIM crashed again and no emails were there.
Corporate lawyers were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of billable hours danced in their heads…

We expect next week to be a quiet one. Your Above the Law editors will still be around, checking tips and looking back at the big stories of 2009, but we’ll be publishing fewer posts per day.

If you want a legal fix over the holidays, think about entering the Do I Have A Right? ATL Challenge. The tournament runs through January 8. Hint: If your score is below 10,000, you might want to play again. And parents, think about partnering with your child to enter the contest as it’s aimed at middle schoolers. You can find out now whether you need to start a law school tuition fund for them.

Happy holidays!

2009 Associate bonus watch above the law.JPGWe haven’t received the official memo, but sources report that Mayer Brown (New York) has matched the Cravath scale for 2009 bonuses. A tipster simply reports:

Mayer Brown New York announced cravath bonuses today

That’s good news for the New Yorkers at the firm.

But for our tipster, wow, way to yawn about free money. You’re like the nutcracker that gets pissed about getting nuts for Christmas. (Sorry, those commercials are really annoying here in NYC.)

Perhaps the reason for the tipster’s ennui is that Mayer Brown hasn’t said anything about 2010 salaries yet. Details after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: Mayer Brown (NY) Matches”

thank you post it note.JPGA quick word of thanks to this week’s advertisers on Above the Law:

If you’re interested in advertising on Above the Law or any other site in the Breaking Media network, download our media kits, or email [email protected]. Thanks!

Minnesota law logo.jpgI know most law professors don’t like giving or grading exams. They’re busy people with many commitments that don’t have anything to do with preparing the next generation of lawyers.
But given the legal economy, given how important law school grades are right now, how can professors justify putting almost no effort into the examination process? We already had a case on an NYU Law professor using previously published questions on an exam this fall. And now we have a substantially similar situation at the University of Minnesota Law School. A professor there used exam questions that had previously been made available to some students, but not the entire class.
Details after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Another Law Professor Screws Up Exam Time”

snowball.jpg* Next year, Santa will need to make sure his elves have health care. [Politico]
* Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor gets serious about bringing an end to judicial elections. [New York Times]
* Arnold Schwarzenegger wants cert for Christmas. [True/Slant]
* Los Angeles judge protects porn stars’ right to bareback. [Associated Press]
* Messy musical chairs: IP partner Yar Chaikovsky jumps from Sonnenschein to McDermott, Will & Emery. It was not a clean break. [Recorder via Chicago Tribune]
* Facebook is bad for monogamy and good for divorce attorneys. [Telegraph]
* Washington, D.C.’s Great Snowball Fight of 2009 was good clean fun until a police officer got smacked in the face with a snowball and a lawyer was wrongfully accused of throwing it. D.C. lawyer Daniel Schramm, who is being hauled away at the end of the video below, writes a rambling op-ed about snowballs, guns, and the rule of law. [Washington Post via ABA Journal]

Los Angeles palm trees Above the Law blog.jpgIn light of the frigid temperatures and snow we’ve been experiencing here in New York, Elie and yours truly have decided to visit sunny Los Angeles on January 7, 2010. We’ll be doing two events, both of them free and open to the public:
1. The Future of Big Law
When: Thursday, January 7, 2010, 12 noon.
Speakers: David Lat and Elie Mystal, editors, Above the Law
Where: UCLA Law School, 71 Dodd Hall, Los Angeles, CA 90095 (room TBA).
Cost: Free. Lunch will be served.
2. Reception at Corkbar
When: Thursday, January 7, 2010, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Description: Meet and mingle with the editors of Above the Law and other lawyers from the area during this informal networking opportunity.
Where: Corkbar, 403 West 12th Street, Downtown Los Angeles, CA 90015.
Cost: Free. Appetizers will be provided; no host bar.
These events are being sponsored by the Los Angeles Lawyers Chapter of the Federalist Society, the Libertarian Law Council, and the UCLA chapters of the Federalist Society and the American Constitution Society.
Please reserve a spot by emailing [email protected]. Hope to see you there!

Falcon Heene Balloon Boy hoax.jpg* The parents of Balloon Boy are sentenced. [ABA Journal]
* The Constitution v. Obamacare. [Volokh Conspiracy]
* Christmas tax rap. Or, as I like to call it, “more proof that the crossover success of hip hop music is a terrible thing.” [Going Concern]
* Greenberg Traurig gets into poker. But not in a degenerate way. [Law Shucks]
* Don’t buy any of these obsolete presents for lawyers on your Christmas list. [Legal Blog Watch]

Supreme Court hallway Above the Law Above the Law Above the Law.JPGOn Monday, Adam Liptak had an interesting article about Supreme Court clerk hiring and possible political polarization. From the New York Times:

A new study has found that former clerks have started to take jobs that reflect the ideologies of the justices for whom they worked.

“It’s cause for concern mainly because it’s a further piece of evidence of the polarization of the court,” said William E. Nelson, a law professor at New York University and one of the authors of the study.

Now, anyone who follows SCOTUS clerk hiring today might yawn at this. Is it really surprising that, as reported in the study, the Bush Administration hired more clerks from the conservative justices, the Clinton Administration hired more clerks from the liberal justices, and certain firms skew conservative (Kirkland & Ellis) or liberal (WilmerHale) in their hiring of former Supreme Court clerks?

But here’s the interesting part:

Until about 1990, the study shows, there was no particular correlation between a justice’s ideological leanings and what his or her clerks did with their lives…. Before the 1990s, the study found, all sorts of former clerks served in the government under all sorts of administrations….

In addition, there have been changes with respect to clerks entering academia:

From about 1940 to 1990, the study found, about a third of all clerks became law professors. There was variation among the chambers, but it was not correlated to the justices’ ideological leanings…. [But now] clerks from conservative chambers are less likely to teach. If they do, they are more likely to join the faculties of conservative and religious law schools.

We’ve heard anecdotally about anti-conservative bias in law faculty hiring (similar to what you sometimes see in law firm hiring). Does this study support the sense of some conservatives that the legal academy is hostile to their ideas?

More discussion of the article, plus the latest in Supreme Court clerk hiring news, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Supreme Court Clerk Hiring Watch: More OT 2010 Hires
Plus a discussion of politics and law clerk hiring.

2009 Associate bonus watch above the law.JPGThis week bonuses were announced at Kirkland & Ellis. And it seems that some folks aren’t pleased.
Bonuses are individualized at K&E, based on your hours and performance rating (above class / with class / below class). Historically the firm has generally been above-market in terms of overall bonus payments. In the past, it was not unusual for a “with class” associate, billing an average number of hours, to get a bigger bonus than the market-level bonus paid to his or her class year by the big New York lockstep firms (e.g., Cravath).
(The firm’s traditional generosity on bonuses is one reason for the sometimes fierce loyalty Kirkland associates exhibit towards their firm. Here at ATL, we jokingly refer to it as the “Kirkland Kool-Aid”: whenever we write something even mildly negative about K&E, we get viciously attacked in the comments by Kirkland lawyers rushing to the defense of their beloved firm.)
But are this year’s bonuses different — and stingier — at Kirkland & Ellis?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: Kirkland’s Unhappy Campers?”

donald jackson.jpgWhen Judge Donald Jackson enters a courtroom, the bailiffs may ask that “all kneel” instead of rise. The Texas county judge has been found guilty of offering to help a woman accused of DWI if she was willing to serve time in the bedroom.
From the Dallas Morning News:

A 28-year-old woman charged with driving while intoxicated accused Jackson of offering her a better court-appointed attorney if she’d agree to a romantic relationship. A jury found Jackson guilty Friday of official oppression.

Photos of the criminal temptress in a video after the jump.
Judge Mark Kent Ellis told Jackson, “We are all tarnished by your stupidity.” Then Judge Ellis gave him a sentence that he “wouldn’t wish on his worst enemy.” What’s that?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Judge of the Day: Donald Jackson”

2009 Associate bonus watch above the law.JPGBonuses have been announced over at Weil Gotshal — and, at least for some associates, WGM is paying above the market. Eat your heart out, Cravath.
In addition, Weil is giving its associates their standard seniority-based pay raises for 2010. The firm is using the regular NYC pay scale: $160K – $170K – $185K – $210K – $230K, etc. The pay raise won’t hit bank accounts until the February 5 deposit, but it will be retroactive to January 1.
Should above-market bonuses from Weil come as a surprise? On the one hand, the firm has been having a good year, thanks to its work on marquee bankruptcies like Lehman Brothers and GM. On the other hand, the firm tends to be cheap about such things historically hasn’t been a compensation leader.
For associates receiving an “overall strong” rating, the firm will pay bonuses on the Sullivan & Cromwell scale. We hear that achieving this rating isn’t difficult: “[P]retty much everyone gets that. No hours requirement. I’ve never heard of anyone not getting a bonus if they are still employed on pay day.”
But wait, there’s more. Certain more-senior associates, from the class of 2005 on up, will receive “distinguished” bonuses.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: Weil Pays ‘Distinguished’ Bonuses
Some senior associates will get $50K bonuses.

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