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2009 Associate bonus watch above the law.JPGThis morning brings associate bonus news from Fried Frank. The firm’s bonus announcement reflects the broader Biglaw trend of moving away from a lockstep compensation system.
Last year, Fried Frank employed a standard bonus schedule, along Cravath lines, with bonuses paid out in accordance with seniority. This year, the firm has ditched the traditional class-year bonus schedule, instead paying “year-end bonuses to New York associates in varying amounts up to $35,000.”
So the firm is doling out bonuses “in varying amounts,” up to $35,000 — the top of this year’s Sullivan & Cromwell bonus schedule. But Fried Frank provides no information as to distribution of bonuses, mean or median amounts, etc. (unlike, say, Latham, which does provide such distributional info about bonuses).
What determines the amount of your bonus at Fried Frank? Several factors, including “seniority, levels of activity, quality of and hours worked, client service and contributions to pro bono activities.” Translation: the firm reserves complete and total discretion with respect to bonuses. There isn’t even a bonus guarantee based on hitting certain billable-hours targets.
The full memo appears after the jump. If you’re at Fried Frank, feel free to compare notes about your bonuses in the comments. Is this opacity a way for Fried Frank to get away with paying out less in bonuses? Or is the firm paying out basically the same as under a lockstep system, but just rewarding the high performers and punishing the laggards?
As always, please send us law firm bonus news to us by email (subject line: “[Firm Name] Bonus News”). Thanks.
P.S. The Fried Frank bonus announcement is for New York. We don’t know what FFHSJ plans to do for its D.C. or international associates.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: Fried Frank’s Black Box of Bonuses”

For your viewing pleasure, here are some pictures from Above the Law’s recent holiday happy hour, sponsored by Applied Discovery.

columbia law school logo.jpgWe come across some ridiculous news here at Above the Law. But few stories are as douchetastic as what happened last week at Columbia Law School. A tipster reports:

Some 1L chick has been asking a select few of her classmates if they’d be interested in forming a study group. Here’s the catch: in order to be “accepted,” you have to submit (1) resume, (2) undergraduate transcript.

I barely know what to say. So I’m going to throw it to a friend of mine who graduated from Columbia Law a few years ago:

I haven’t heard about this, but it doesn’t surprise me….
Jesus Christ, this doesn’t surprise me. I graduated from a law school where s*** like this happens and I’m not surprised.

All right, let’s analyze the problems here after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Study Group At Columbia Requires A Transcript”

Kumari Fulbright Facebook poke Arizona law student beauty queen Above the Law blog.jpg* Facebook rules for judges in Florida. They can be on Facebook but they can’t friend the lawyers who appear before them. It’s not clear whether the Florida Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee approves of poking. [Legal Profession Blog]
* Surprise! It was a bad year for law firms. [Bloomberg]
* Michigan attorney Murdoch Hertzog, 83, has been suspended for offering clients the option to pay their bills via “the couch of restitution.” He still denies the allegation. His defense is that he’s too old — at this age, he prefers money to sex. [Detroit News]
* Was prominent L.A. attorney Jeffrey Tidus murdered or did he commit suicide? [Associated Press]
* San Diego Charger linebacker Shawne Merriman wants to make a line of t-shirts with Wal-Mart, but his brand has been tainted by former girlfriend Tila Tequila. He’s suing her for falsely accusing him of attacking her, drugging and sleeping with minors and making illegal drugs. But his suit is not about defamation; it’s about “copyright and trademark infringement and dilution, intentional interference with contract and unfair competition.” [Courthouse News Service]
* Timber! That’s the sound of a $6 million lawsuit filed by Debevoise falling on a client who doesn’t want to pay its bill. [ABA Journal]

Elizabeth%20Halverson%20small%20Judge%20Elizabeth%20Halverson%20Liz%20Halverson%20Above%20the%20Law%20blog.jpgOn her motorized Rascal scooter. From the Las Vegas Review-Journal:

A one-time legal assistant to ousted District Judge Elizabeth Halverson won a $50,000 judgment Tuesday in the defamation case she filed against Halverson in 2007. District Judge David Wall on Tuesday ordered Halverson to pay the money and to return files to the assistant, Ileen Spoor….

Wall denied Spoor’s claim for $100,000 in punitive damages. Halverson did not attend the proceedings.

Had Her Honor attended, would the outcome have been different? As an oral advocate, she’s not half-bad.
So, what were the allegations against Elizabeth Halverson?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Former Judge Halverson Rolls Back Into the News”

Pool Table no job.JPGThe recession will make fools of us all before the end. Especially those of us who spent unwisely during the good times.
I know that the general, late night commentariat doesn’t have a lot of sympathy for law students and young lawyers who didn’t budget properly before the recession took hold. But I have sympathy for those not blessed with the financial planning gene. And I hate seeing young lawyers pay the price for their poor decisions.
So it is with great sadness that I inform you that one would-be Biglaw associate can no longer afford to keep his pool table. He has to sell it, but he would rather trade it for a job.
After a moment of silence, let’s check out his plea for employment.

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* The danger of deferred associates running around with nothing to do. [PR Web]

* Kirkland & Ellis, now under new management. [Am Law Daily]
* Uganda considers eliminating gay people. Yeah, cause that is what is really holding that country back, gays. [WSJ Law Blog]
* How many Tiger Woods related questions will be on law school exams this period? [New York Personal Injury Law Blog]
* I don’t think murdering women are particularly hot. But I might be in the minority. [Double X]
* Stealing tips from Starbuck’s baristas seems particularly low. Starbucks punishing a barista who was trying to get her tips back is just disgusting. [Legal Blog Watch]

2009 Associate bonus watch above the law.JPGYear-end associate bonuses were recently announced by Boies, Schiller & Flexner, the litigation powerhouse founded by the renowned David Boies. And the Boies bonuses were good — very good.

For starters, unlike other top firms, Boies is paying bonuses to first-year associates from the class of 2009. According to Phil Korologos, a partner in the firm’s New York office:

First-year associates who started after September 1, 2009 will receive a $5,000 year-end bonus. First-year associates who started prior to September 1, 2009, will receive the greater of $5,000 or their performance-based bonus.

Performance-based bonuses at the firm can be quite high, depending on how hard you work and the types of cases you work on (contingency or non-contingency). As a result, bonuses at Boies are individualized, not lockstep; there’s no magic number for each class year. The firm provided Above the Law with the high end of its bonus ranges:

For associates after their first year, the amount of their bonus is based on performance. The performance based bonuses for rising second-year associates range as high as $70,000.

The performance based bonuses for associates beyond their second year range as high as $150,000.

Six-figure bonuses? Now we’re getting into Wachtell territory — or beyond (since we suspect Wachtell bonuses will be down quite a bit this year).

In addition, Boies Schiller pays above-market base salaries — just like Wachtell ($165,000) and Williams & Connolly ($180,000). First-year associates at BSF now start at $174,000.

Check out the complete Boies salary scale, plus learn more about how their bonuses are calculated, after the jump.

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Generous bonuses, above-market base salaries.

native american mascots.jpgLegal battles over Native American mascots are being waged in both the professional and college sports arenas. The New York Times reports that the controversy over the Fighting Sioux of the University of North Dakota has gotten more complicated.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association advised the school, along with 17 other universities, to change its mascot three and half years ago, says Ashby Jones at the WSJ Law Blog. While other universities acquiesced, the Fighting Sioux fought back, filing a lawsuit against the NCAA.
The suit was starting to wind down, and the name was to change soon says the NYT, until members of the Sioux tribe decided to file a lawsuit of their own. To keep the name. They’re proud of it:

The members from Spirit Lake behind the lawsuit assert that many of the American Indians opposed to the Fighting Sioux nickname are simply from tribes other than the Sioux, and are jealous of all the recognition. (Opponents call this absurd.)

Eunice Davidson, 57, who says she is “full blood” and “grew up on this reservation” tells the New York Times: “I have to tell you, I am very, very honored that they would use the name.”
When we interviewed Amanda Blackhorse, a member of the Navajo Nation who has a petition pending before the Trademark Board about the Washington Redskins name, she expressed skepticism about Native Americans who defend tribal mascot names. She said they are in the minority.
This week, Fordham Law professor Sonia Katyal penned a column for Findlaw about the IP and First Amendment issues when it comes to racialized symbols. Why do we object to “Wong Brothers” but embrace the “Skins”?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “More Reservations About Native American Mascots”

My Job Is Murder.jpgEd. note: Welcome to ATL’s first foray into serial fiction. “My Job Is Murder,” a mystery set in a D.C. appellate boutique, will appear one chapter at a time, M-W-F, over the next few weeks. Prior installments appear here; please read them first.
Susanna Dokupil can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Facebook.

The detective hid with Katarina just out of sight, listening, hoping to overhear a confession. But once he realized John intended to poison Tyler, he decided to step in, one way or the other.
“Hold it right there,” he said.
Instantly, he saw he was too late. A golden leg squirmed between John’s glove and Tyler’s mouth.
“Honestly, officer, there’s no need for the gun anymore. The killer is incapacitated. In fact, he’ll be dead in a matter of minutes. There’s no known antidote for batrachotoxin.”
At that, Katarina sprang into action. She e-mailed everyone in the office: “Trapped on MakoProphet roof with Ken Thrax’s murderer! Call police!”
Katarina looked at the time. It was 12:05 p.m. She texted Alex, who regularly got sushi takeout for lunch. “Going to O Bento today?”
He responded immediately: “There now — why?”
“I need you to get me something….”

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “My Job Is Murder: Of Explanations and Escapes”

Whoopi Goldberg ghost.JPGSome stories really write themselves:

Vishwantee Persaud allegedly defrauded a Toronto lawyer of tens of thousands of dollars by telling him she was the embodiment of the spirit of his deceased sister, come back to help him in business. Ms. Persaud now faces charges under a rarely used section of the criminal code for pretending to practice witchcraft.

We can also put the Toronto lawyer’s brain in the category of “rarely used.”

“She said she came from a long line of witches and could do tarot-card readings,” says Detective Constable Corey Jones, who investigated the case. “It was through this that she cemented [the lawyer's] trust,” setting the stage for the fraud to follow, which, according to Det. Constable Jones, included claiming fictitious expenses such as law-school tuition and cancer treatments.

Sorry, I just don’t have a lot of sympathy for the lawyer who fell for this. I’m not inclined to believe in the supernatural. If Whoopi Goldberg shows up at my house, she better bring more than a levitating penny.
Still, one has to ask why there are witchcraft laws still on the Canadian books.
Canada explains itself, eh, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Canadian Lawsuit of the Day: Lawyer Not Charmed By Witch’s Ruse”

Kumari Fulbright small Arizona law student beauty queen Above the Law blog.jpgUPDATE (07/01/10): Fulbright has a new lawyer. Her sentencing date has not yet been set (because she’s scheduled to testify at the October trial of a co-defendant, after which she’ll be sentenced).

UPDATE (11/11/10): Here’s a report on how testimony went.

Remember Kumari Fulbright? Of course — how could you forget her? The former beauty queen had her legal studies at the University of Arizona derailed after being accused of conspiracy to commit kidnapping and aggravated assault.

It appears that Fulbright’s criminal case is reaching a resolution. The Arizona Daily Star reports:

A former beauty queen and UA law school student accused of orchestrating the kidnapping of her former boyfriend will spend the next two years in prison.

Kumari Fulbright, 27, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit kidnapping and aggravated assault Tuesday in Pima County Superior Court.

Fulbright agreed to serve two years in prison for the assault charge and she will have to serve a term of probation on the kidnapping charge once she’s released.

Despite having studied law, as well as having interned for a federal judge, Kumari Fulbright didn’t seem to know how a plea hearing is supposed to work.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “A Beauty Queen in an Orange Jumpsuit? Former Law Student Kumari Fulbright Could Be Prison-Bound”

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