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  • 21 Jan 2009 at 12:33 PM
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More Pain Coming to Cadwalader?

Cadwalader Wickersham Taft new logo CWT AboveTheLaw blog.jpgWe have detailed that spate of partner defections from Cadwalader in recent weeks. But how are things going for associates on the ground? In the Cadwalader litigation department, at least it’s not particularly busy. A tipster reports:

Learned at a CWT Litigation Department associates-only meeting held at 2:00 [last week]:

Everyone was anxious about the lack of work in the Litigation Department. One of the reps took a poll and no one in the room was currently staffed on a securities fraud matter. This raised serious concerns about the department.

But as Lestat might say: Cadwalader is going to give associates the choice I never had:

Based on 2008 productivity, some associate salaries will be frozen. Others in slow departments will be asked to take a pay cut if they want to stay. So there will be some 8th, 7th and 6th years who were slow in 2008 who will be dropped two or three class years.

Pop quiz senior associates. What do you do?

Earlier: Musical Chairs: Bruce Zirinsky and John Bae from Cadwalader to Greenberg Traurig

Musical Chairs: Cadwalader Loses More Lawyers

funny-pictures-cat-does-not-work-hard.jpgPresident Obama made a pretty interesting statement in yesterday’s inaugural address:

Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished.

But based on last week’s ATL / Lateral Link survey, which asked you how many hours you billed last year, these words of inspiration might not quite fit the legal profession. As we noted last week, more than a quarter of respondents were unable to bill even 1800 hours last year.

And many commenters suggested that the situation will be more dire in 2009:

Hitting 2000 hours for 2008 was doable because the bulk of the slow-down didn’t occur until September/October. Only because I had very high hours before then was I able to just barely hit 2000 hours for the year. 2009 will be much worse. I’m worried.


what are these “billable hours” of which you speak? i keep hearing they’re good to have, but i can’t find them anywhere. i’ve looked under the rug and everything!

Other commenters pointed out that even 2008 was probably a worse year financially than last week’s survey suggests:

It is hard to tell how busy associates really were based on this data. One problem is that “billable hour” may mean different things at different firms. At some firms “billable hour” = client billable hours only. But many firms give billable hours credit for pro bono, recruitment and professional development work. I would be curious to see how much CLIENT BILLABLE hours associates had in 2008 and what they are expecting for 2009.


Also, pro bono hours are way up, which is great for our day-to-day feeling of some accomplishment, but not as great for our future viability.

In today’s survey, we’ll focus on both issues: how much of your “billable” work last year was really for “CLIENT BILLABLE” time, and what do you think 2009 will look like?

Update: This survey is now closed. Click here to see the results.

Justin Bernold is a Director at Lateral Link, the sponsor of this Associate Life Survey.

[Ed Note: Yesterday, Hope showed us what happens when people stop being polite, and start getting real. Today, she offers some solutions. Check out yesterday's column here]

Collectively Depressing Soul.jpg

Here is what I am going to do to pass the time while we weather this storm:

1) Meditate – My anxiety-ridden friend Pablo is going to start going to meditation class with me on Thursday nights at the Unitarian church. Instead of pounding aloe martinis (love), we’re going to grab our mats and visualize good things and talk to people that we are told to imagine. We’re gonna get some spirituality! And meditation class is way cheaper than going out for cocktails; you just give a donation at the door. (I hope Pablo gives a donation. He was cheap even in the good times.) I’m so into the meditation thing that I’m Type A’ing it and going to a real ashram. Ashrams, my friends, are the new spas – sans the elegant soap, fluffy towels and private showers.

2) Giving What You Can – I’m going to donate some clothes to the church I never go to but belong to but it’s okay because I’m getting my spirituality now through the Unitarian Church lady who tells me to listen to the man whispering in my ear about compassion and acceptance. And I gave a full Metro card to the nonprofit I volunteer for. In the past I would help by holding fundraisers at posh boutiques where I used to shop … but that trite maneuver aint gonna fly during the world financial collapse, so I’m giving subway tokens instead. Give what you can. You may feel broke, but there are a lot more people who are more broke than you. And save your receipts. Charity a good tax deduction, and everyone is going to be audited this year. Treasury aint going to give us a bailout or even a return – that’s all went to AIG.

After the jump, more hope from Hope.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Depression Is So Freaking Depressing (Part II)”

White House small Washington DC Abovethelaw Above the Law legal tabloid.JPGLast night we wrote about some of the top-notch talent that will be filling senior legal positions in the Obama Administration. These are big names, and you probably also read about them in big publications, like the Legal Times or the Wall Street Journal.

ATL is willing to drill down deeper. We now bring you personnel news at more junior levels. If you graduated law school in the past 15 or even 10 years, you might actually know some of these people.

Our prior post focused on two of the most prestigious parts of the Department of Justice: the Solicitor General’s office, and the Office of Legal Counsel. We now turn our attention to two other top offices: the White House Counsel’s office, and the office of the Deputy Attorney General.

Over 300,000 people applied for 3,300 positions in the Obama administration. After going through a ridiculous screening process, these fine folks landed 20 of the most coveted legal jobs in the country.

See if you know any of them, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Musical Chairs: The Obama White House Counsel’s Office
(And ODAG picks, too.)”

financial crime.jpg

* Lawyers are winning in the long rivalry between lawyers and bankers. Endless financial fraud cases make lawyers look ethical. There is another fraud charge in Philadelphia against money manager Joseph Forte. [The Philadelphia Inquirer]

* The SEC is investigating Apple’s disclosures about CEO Steve Jobs’ health, to make sure the company did not mislead investors. [Bloomberg]

* The point man for Madoff’s investor Frank DiPascali will now be the go-to guy for prosecutors investigating the scheme. [The Wall Street Journal]

* Former Enron CEO Jeff Skilling asked the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Apeals to review his 19 convictions. [The Houston Chronicle]

* A Czech businessman settled a suit filed against him by hedge fund Omega advisors, after he alegedly bribed government officials in Azerbaijan, defrauding investors hundreds of millions. [The New York Times]

* In the aftermath of India’s Enron–the Satyam scandal, the Indian government will likely rescue Satyam’s workers from losing their jobs. []

* SEC chairman Christopher Cox resigned in the wake of scrutiny of the SEC for failing to investigate allegations in the Madoff scandal. [The Associated Press]

Department of Justice seal DOJ seal Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgPresident Barack Obama has hit the ground running. Even before President Obama was done flubbing taking the oath of office, the revamped White House website was launched. You can check the WH website, including the new “Briefing Room” blog, for news of notable nominations and appointments.

We’ll also follow personnel news here on Above the Law, at least with respect to leading lawyers (most of them bound for the Department of Justice and the White House Counsel’s office). We’ve covered some notable nominations already. E.g, Eric Holder for attorney general; Elena Kagan for solicitrix general; Cass Sunstein for regulatory czar; and Kathy Ruemmler for PADAG.

A few more names have surfaced since then. Some of them pertain to the Office of Legal Counsel, the most prestigious DOJ component to work for other than the Solicitor General’s office (and arguably more powerful). We once dubbed OLC the Finishing School for the Elect:

If you don’t land a Supreme Court clerkship that immediately follows your feeder judge clerkship, cool your heels at the OLC, then reapply to the Court. Success is practically guaranteed!

Dawn Johnsen Indiana University Bloomington OLC.jpgAs previously reported, with the Senate’s consent, the headmistress of the Finishing School will be Dawn Johnsen (pictured). Professor Johnsen teaches law at Indiana University – Bloomington and served at OLC during the Clinton Administration, as Acting Assistant Attorney General and Deputy Assistant Attorney General, so she is well-prepared for the job. When we spoke at IU almost two years ago, students we met were already speculating that Professor Johnsen — described as a “brilliant” scholar, even if not the clearest or most effective classroom teacher — might someday return to government.

Professor Johnson will be joined by two more academics: Professor David Barron, of Harvard Law School, and Professor Marty Lederman, of Georgetown Law School. To learn more about their appointments, see Politico and Balkinization, respectively. Professor Lederman may be familiar to many of you as an active contributor in the legal blogosphere, having blogged for Balkinization and SCOTUSblog.

neal katyal Above the Law Legal Blog Above the Law David Lat.JPGSince President Obama is a former legal academic, it should come as no surprise that he’s recruiting so many law profs to join the upper echelons of his administration. The marquee names of Kagan, Sunstein, Johnsen, Barron and Lederman will also be joined by one of the brightest young stars of the legal firmament: Georgetown law professor Neal Katyal (pictured), of Hamdan v. Rumsfeld fame. As reported by the Legal Times (via the WSJ Law Blog), wunderkind Katyal has been tapped to serve as Elena Kagan’s right-hand man, principal deputy solicitor general.

For a comprehensive listing of the top legal eagles in the Obama Administration, see this handy round-up over at the BLT. As you can see, these are big, boldface names — gods and goddesses of our profession. Congratulations and good luck to all of them (not that they’ll need it).

We’ll have more hiring news — including items about less celestial beings, more junior lawyers, people you might actually know — in subsequent posts. If you have info to share, please email us. Thanks.

Update: Add Harvard’s Einer Elhauge to the list of legal academics bound for the Obama Administration. Details via Brian Leiter.

Marty Lederman joins the Office of Legal Counsel [Balkinization]

Katyal Tapped as Principal Deputy in SG’s Office [The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times]

DOJ in Flux [The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times]

Georgetown to Lose Lederman and Katyal to OLC, SG’s Office [WSJ Law Blog]

Another Bush critic to OLC [Politico]

More Departures from Academia to the Obama Administration: Lederman from Georgetown, Barron from Harvard [Leiter's Law School Reports]

Senator Kennedy.jpg* Good luck Senator Kennedy. [CNN]

* A unified theory of the universe might still be some way off. But a unified bar exam? It could happen. [TaxProf Blog]

* Could somebody please explain to me how Don King got a ticket to the inauguration? [Underdog]

* Now the people at Drug and Device law thinks blogging is helpful for generated business. “You alright, I learned it by watching you.” [Drug and Device Law]

* It should be MLK day everday. Blawg Review takes a look at the promised land.

[On Being a Black Lawyer via Blawg Review]

oath.jpgAs we type this, our fingers are still thawing from standing in the cold on the National Mall during today’s inauguration. The number of people willing to brave the cold was impressive. Every time President Barack Obama appeared on a jumbotron screen, the crowd went crazy with shouts of “O-bam-a” and “Yes, we did.”

The crowd quieted down in order to hear Obama take the oath of office. But what followed was a bit confusing. SCOTUS Chief Justice and now-President Barack Obama appeared to be talking over one another. In the crowd, people started asking, “Who screwed it up?” reports that Roberts is to blame:

The Constitution prescribes the text: “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and will to best of my ability preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

But Chief Justice John Roberts, using no notes, flubbed his lines, and Obama knew it.

First, Obama jumped in before the “do solemnly swear” phrase, which seemed to throw the chief justice off his stride. Roberts rendered the next phrase as “that I will execute the office of President to the United States faithfully.”

“That I will execute,” Obama repeated, then paused like a school teacher prompting his student with a slight nod. Roberts took another shot at it: “The off … faithfully the pres … the office of President of the United States.”

Is there a little pro-Obama bias there? We’re not so sure Roberts is totally to blame. As one ATL commenter says:

First Flub: Obama. Roberts proceeds with the swearing in and Obama jumps the gun before Roberts gets done. Second Flub: Roberts.

Watch the video here. What do you think?

Read the transcript from, and see our take, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Whoops. How does that Constitution go?”

staff attorney contract attorney doc review.jpgA lot of pain has been dealt out to support staff at various law firms recently.

On Friday, Akin Gump slashed their support staff, laying off 65 employees. The WSJ Law Blog reported:

“There are no planned attorney layoffs,” said [Sheila Turner, a firm spokeswoman]. “But in these difficult times we of course expect to monitor the economy and staff the firm accordingly.”

Is the promise that Akin Gump won’t fire attorneys something that people can rely on? Don’t forget that Akin Gump is one of the few firms that admitted to rescinding offers to summer associates.

Meanwhile, in Indianapolis, the firm Ice Miller is making a two percent reduction in their workforce. Indiana Lawyer Daily reports:

“Over the last few months, we have been engaged in a thorough review of all aspects of our business operations in an effort to increase efficiencies and productivity to better serve our clients,” [Chief managing partner Byron Myers] said in the statement. “As a result of that review, we determined that we could consolidate some of our internal processes which resulted in much more efficient staffing requirements.”

This is the third firm in the past two months to cut support and administrative positions. Bose McKinney & Evans cut 11 support positions Jan. 9, almost 8 percent of its operational staff. It was a move that didn’t involve any attorneys but was something that law firm leaders said was necessary because of the economy.

Skadden joins the party after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Staff Layoff Watch: A Roundup”

Obama 3.jpg

No country does the “peaceful transfer of power” quite like the U.S.A.

law firm associate bonus watch 2008 biglaw bonuses.jpgWhen Hughes Hubbard released bonus information last year, a lot of associates were angry. Last year, Hughes Hubbard tied the “special bonus” to billable hours.

At the time, the firm promised that 2008 bonuses would be better.

Of course, that was before the great 2008 whatever the hell we’re living through. Few expected HHR to keep their bonus promise. But the structure that HHR released Sunday seems very generous and fair in light of market conditions:

Class of 2001 and above:

Tier 1: $32,500

Tier 2: $65,000

Tier 3: $85,000

Tier 4: $105,000

Class of 2002:

Tier 1: $30,000

Tier 2: $60,000

Tier 3: $80,000

Tier 4: $100,000

Class of 2003:

Tier 1: $27,500

Tier 2: $55,000

Tier 3: $75,000

Tier 4: $95,000

Class of 2004

Tier 1: $25,000

Tier 2: $50,000

Tier 3: $70,000

Tier 4: $90,000

Class of 2005:

Tier 1:$22,500

Tier 2: $45,000

Tier 3: $ $60,000

Tier 4: $75,000

Class of 2006:

Tier 1: $20,000

Tier 2: $40,000

Tier 3: $55,000

Tier 4: $ 70,000

Class of 2007:

Tier 1: $17,500

Tier 2: $35,000

Tier 3: $50,000

Tier 4: $65,000

Tipsters are happy:

That’s pretty sweet – everyone’s pretty happy for now (although 2009 bonuses and salaries are still “under consideration”). Tier 1 is 1950 hours, tier 2 is 2100, … tier 3 is 2300 and tier 4 is 2500. … Since HHR counts pro bono hours 1 for 1 as billable, and a number of associates have TONS of pro bono it’s not quite as hard to meet the “tiers” and rake in a pretty sweet bonus.

Good news for Hughes Hubbard people. Congratulations.

Read the full memo after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: ‘Mother (Hughes) Hubbard’ Does Better Than Last Year”

Collectively Depressing Soul.jpgSo…. Here’s The Thing….

It’s kind of like what Collective Soul said a decade ago, when things were just fantastic:

Are these times contagious?

I’m never been this bored before.

Is this the prize I’ve waited for?

These days, it seems like all my friends are depressed on account of the Depression. (Or the “recession,” for those ostriches who choose to bury their heads in the sand.) It certainly doesn’t help that CNN keeps slapping Obama into FDR’s car or that every reporter declares 600,000 jobs were lost today or the “Dow hasn’t dipped this low since 1929.” Good lord. No wonder no one is spending. I’ve stopped reading the papers. It’s all just widespread panic. Pretty soon they’ll be bringing polio back, too.

And the law firms. Wow. Who ever would have thought those blue-blooded Ivy Leaguers who were doing filings and writing law review articles about all those “complex financial instruments” would now be unemployed? And each day there are more and more layoffs. Where are the acquisitions? And where are freaking derivatives? I mean you always need lawyers, right? And what: associates doing paralegal work? They don’t know how to shepardize, much less tab and hole-punch briefing books. Geez.

The Depression takes its toll, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Depression Is So Freaking Depressing (Part I)”

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