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[Ed Note: Do you have a question for next week? Send it in to advice@abovethelaw.com]

>pls hndle copy 2.jpgDear ATL,

My firm has a women’s committee that organizes programs like lunches, networking events, and most recently mentoring “lunch bunches.” To my knowledge, the men in our firm are not invited to participate in these events. I don’t particularly care to commiserate with other women simply because we are the same gender. Other than one awkward lunch that I was cornered into, I have managed to avoid the all-female programs by virtue of a busy schedule. Unfortunately, I have received an inquiry from one of the “lunch bunch” organizers, specifically asking me if I will participate in the monthly lunch program. I really don’t want to participate, but I am concerned that snubbing her invitation will be offensive. How should I respond?

Thanks,

Hate the Game

Dear Hate the Game,

When friends have asked me to join their knitting groups, book clubs or women’s circles: my answers range anywhere from “absolutely not” to “hell no.” Why would I want to waste my time reading The Lovely Bones or cobbling together a scarf like some Colonial Williamsburg reenactor? I wouldn’t. So I empathize with your lunch bunch plight. Why anybody would want to discuss “How to Strike a Work-Life Balance” once a month, every month, is beyond me. I’m also not sure why women at the firm need a meeting, but the men do not.

Normally, you couldn’t pay me to attend a women’s lunch bunch, but these are not normal times. If one of the organizers specifically asked you to attend AND that person is senior to you, suck it up and go.* As torturous as hearing about the New Mothers Room may be, you don’t want there to be any ill will toward you in this era of layoffs. Don’t give them a reason to can you. Just show up. Bring a picture of the hunk you’re totally crushing on and a Judy Blume book to power you through.

Your friend,

Marin

*Editor’s note: if the lunch bunch organizer is junior to you, disregard above advice.

Elie crashes the meeting after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Pls Hndle Thx:
I Would Prefer Not To”

anonymity.jpg* Online anonymity is at stake in a case in Maryland. A Dunkin’ Donuts shop owner is pursuing a defamation case after getting slammed by anonymous commenters on a newspaper forum. The Maryland Court of Appeals is now deciding whether the newspaper company has to hand over the identities of RockyRacoonMD and others. [Washington Post]

* … and Baker Hostetler is fighting to keep RockyRacoonMD’s identity secret. [AmLaw Daily]

* Clerks’ political leanings have an influence on their judges, and a look back at how William H. Rehnquist sounded the alarm in 1957. [New York Times]

* … Or read Rehnquist’s 1957 diatribe yourself. [Vintage U.S. News and World Report]

* U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald gets points for soundbytes. The Plamegate prosecutor says indicted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s “public corruption crime spree” would “make Lincoln roll over in his grave.” [Washington Post]

law firm associate bonus watch 2008 biglaw bonuses.jpgDebevoise & Plimpton has been very busy and very profitable. They recently sent around a positive internal email about the firm’s business during the downturn. And we know that the Siemens case has treated them well.

But in 2008, public protestations of solid business mean nothing when it comes to associate compensation. Debevoise announced that they were paying half of what Skadden is offering:

2008: $17,500 (pro-rated)

2007: $17,500
2006: $20,000
2005: $22,500
2004: $25,000
2003: $27,500
2002: $30,000
2001 (and senior): $32,500

The numbers — while annoying — are not really that surprising. Schulte Roth, housed in the same building, earlier today announced the same scale (although subject to an hours requirement). Even our Debevoise sources anticipated that, with Siemens winding down, the firm would be more forward-looking with this round of bonuses.

What is surprising is the timing of this bonus announcement. The email went out from managing partner Rick Evans at 6:54 p.m. WTF (“Sacré bleu” in Debevoise-speak)? Was management hoping to dodge the news cycle with an after-hours announcement? Somebody should let them know that the internets are on 24/7.

Our hearts go out to the Debevoise associates that were still working when this announcement crashed into their inboxes. Professionalism is its own reward. All Skadden associates are getting this Christmas is twice the money.

Read the full memo after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: Debevoise Announces Bonuses at 6:54 p.m. (Did they think nobody would notice?)”


Day without a gay.JPG* Tomorrow is scheduled to be a “Day Without A Gay.” In solidarity, tomorrow I will refuse to be spirited, happy, or carefree in any way. [Day Without A Gay]

* “Prawfsfest 4 is being hosted at the University of Miami from December 8th – December 10th. Law professors in Miami? Break out the Bengay and I think we’ll have a real party on our hands! [PrawfsBlawg]

* The New York Law Journal’s Top 100 report that we mentioned today also contained some interesting charts about the New York’s law schools. It’ll be fun to read how NYU students still claim superiority over Columbia students. But the real question is whether or not Touro can be stopped. [TaxProf Blog]

* Larry Craig lost his appeal. The lesson from Mr. Craig: Don’t plead guilty unless you mean to plead guilty … and something about proper toilet etiquette that I can’t quite remember. [Wonkette]

* The 3L market is dead. Some people see this as an opportunity. I see this as a reason to start ridiculing the class of ’12 before they even start. [Law and More]

outsourcing biglaw aba tsunami.gifThe terrorist attacks in Mumbai reminded everyone that we live in a dangerous world. But as India takes the steps necessary to improve its homeland security, we shouldn’t expect the tragedy to stem the tide of outsourcing American legal functions to Indian companies.

The National Law Journal reports that firms are increasingly proud of their outsourcing initiatives:

As outsourcing becomes more commonplace and corporate counsel and law firms are under increasing pressure to reduce costs for clients, law firms such as Baker & McKenzie; Greenberg Traurig; Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy; and Shapiro Sher Guinot & Sandler are actually touting at conferences the benefits of outsourcing.

Baker & McKenzie was the last best hope for Heller Ehrman, Greenberg Traurig is conducting stealth layoffs, and Millbank just announced Half-Skadden bonuses. But their outsourcing operations are thriving.

And the wave of firms outsourcing legal services to India is only going to get bigger:

Forrester Research projects that legal outsourcing to India will reach $4 billion by 2015. Some experts, however, find that number too low and others too high. Regardless, other numbers don’t lie — there are an estimated 800,000 lawyers in India and nowhere near that many jobs. Attorneys there charge, on average, $35 an hour, or no more than half of what an upper paralegal or lower-level associate bills, and up to three times less than an upper-level associate’s time.

After the jump, will global terrorism have a chilling effect?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Despite Mumbai Tragedy, Outsourcing Continues”

economy freezes over.JPGMcDermott Will & Emery has already announced that associates will be eligible for their bonus “advances” that they were already promised. We reported that MWE associates can expect $10K to $20K now, while the final numbers will be released in March. At the time we said:

The other wrinkle here is that MWE is leaving the door open on what their “final” bonus package will look like. They could match last year’s market, or not. There is a lot of time to read the market between now and March.

Having already announced this good news, it was a little weird yesterday when McDermott announced the same news again. The same numbers, the same plan, the same “final decision in March” language. Did MWE management simply forget that they had said all of this before?

Not quite. Buried in the third paragraph of this “new” announcement was the line:

In addition to the final bonus determinations, Associate base salaries for 2009 will be determined and announced in March at the conclusion of the 2008 compensation process. Until then, current base salaries will remain in effect

No raises until March (if at all)? Is MWE really hurting or just really, really cheap?

After the jump, the freezing future.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Next Wave of Cost Cutting: The Pay Freeze”

More bonus news today, this time from Schulte Roth & Zabel. The numbers are not surprising:

law firm associate bonus watch 2008 biglaw bonuses.jpgClass Year: Bonus

2008: $17,500 (pro rated)
2007: $17,500
2006: $20,000
2005: $22,500
2004: $25,000
2003: $27,500
2002: $30,000
2001: $32,500
2000: $32,500
1999: $32,500

Schulte has an hours target, but it also claims Cerberus as a major client. Cerberus owns Chrysler… so there has probably been at least a little legal work flying around SRZ.

Schulte has historically given extra bonuses to associates who go above and beyond the call of reason duty. That will not change this year. The firm announced an extra $10K for associates who hit 2300 hours, and an extra $20K for associates who hit 2500 hours. Associates who hit 3,000 hours get $20K (and their own “special” padded room).

In this market, every little bit helps. Good job by Schulte to at least keep paying their high billers a decent bonus.

Read the full memo after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: Schulte Roth & Zabel Announces Half-Skadden Bonus (But Will Still Pay Additional Money To High Billers)”

Secretary.jpgWith the holidays two weeks away, many are starting to think about the frantic search for gifts for loved ones… and loved support staff. A Consumer Reports survey indicates that 76% of Americans will cut back on gift giving this year. Surprise, surprise. But what does it mean for planning your gift for your secretary and/or paralegal?

Writes one ATL reader:

I’m a NYC 4th year and for three years have given my secretary $100 per year I’ve been at my firm (plus a small — $25 — physical gift as well). If I follow that pattern, I’d give her $400 cash in a few weeks.

My secretary is great and I would like to show my appreciation. But this year, with my job hardly safe and my bonus likely to be at Half-Skadden levels (if I even survive long enough to get a bonus), does the $100 per year rule still apply in NYC?

I think we need a full post on this. It’s not 2007 anymore.

$400 seems high, even for New York. We thought $150-200 was the going rate.

For the uninitiated, it’s customary for associates at large law firms to give a cash gift to their administrative assistants, often along with a card or small gift. Not everyone opts for cold, hard cash– some do AmEx or Visa gift cards. (If you do choose to go with bills, please make sure they are not of the soiled, dog-eared variety.)

One secretary wrote to us this year to voice opposition to the inter-office gift giving (and she’s not the only one):

How should a legal secretary ask her lawyers to not give her gifts? I don’t think Christmas has any place at work, and, though I respect and appreciate my lawyers, I don’t want them giving me gifts. I find it awkward and embarrassing on many different levels. I’ve been at my current job 5 years and tried at first simply not reciprocating. But they never got the message. I’m dreading this year’s ordeal like the plague. They make a little ceremony of calling me into an office as if I were in trouble. Please ask your readers what I might say that would stop the gifts without offending my guys. Thanks!

So, here’s an open thread to discuss your gift-giving plans in the current economic environment. Are you scaling back this year due to a diminished bonus? What’s the scale in your town? Does your paralegal get to sit on Santa’s lap as well? And if your secretary wants no part in the 12 days of Christmas, how should she let you know?

NYLJ top 100 logo.JPGAs we’ve explained before, overall head count numbers can be misleading. In these days of layoffs, acknowledged and stealth, firms could still be cutting associates while putting up big head count numbers.

But it’s always fun to gawk at the huge Manhattan behemoths. Today, the New York Law Journal Magazine released their annual report on on the largest firms in New York:

The NYLJ 100 ranks the 100 largest private law offices as of Sept. 30, irrespective of where a firm is headquartered, whether it claims a home office or in what state or country it originated or has the majority of its lawyers. The exception this year is that in a few cases numbers are as of October, to better reflect late-breaking events.

The top fifteen biggest firms (numbers show attorneys in New York) are not surprising:

1. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom: 910
2. Weil, Gotshal & Manges: 679
3. Dewey & LeBoeuf: 663
4. Simpson Thacher & Bartlett: 657
5. Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison: 644
6. Davis Polk & Wardwell: 607
7. Debevoise & Plimpton: 535
8. Cravath, Swaine & Moore: 529
9. Sullivan & Cromwell: 499
10. Sidley Austin: 469
11. Schulte Roth & Zabel: 459
12. Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton: 450
13. Proskauer Rose: 448
14. White & Case: 443
15. Willkie Farr & Gallagher: 435

You can read the full list here. Behold the magnificence of size.

New York Law Journal Magazine [NYLJ]

Rod Blagojevich illinois law above the law.JPGYesterday, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich made news with “dangerous” threats about halting all state business with Bank of America until the Republic Windows & Doors fiasco is sorted out.

Today, Blagojevich learned the old rule: “Let he who is not under investigation for ‘staggering’ corruption cast the first stone.” The Chicago Tribune (which is still allowed access to ink and paper) reports:

Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his chief of staff, John Harris, were arrested by FBI agents on federal corruption charges Tuesday morning….

“The breadth of corruption laid out in these charges is staggering,” U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said in a statement.

“They allege that Blagojevich put a ‘for sale’ sign on the naming of a United States senator; involved himself personally in pay-to-play schemes with the urgency of a salesman meeting his annual sales target; and corruptly used his office in an effort to trample editorial voices of criticism.”

Apparently, the government has a lot of the evidence against Blagojevich on tape.

An investigation years in the making, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich Taken Into Custody By BOA Feds”

law firm associate bonus watch 2008 biglaw bonuses.jpgEven I have “adjusted” to the fact that the market thinks Half-Skadden set the market with their low associate bonuses. People are afraid for their jobs and firms have an opportunity to use the fear to save a buck. Why compete with elite firms like Skadden when there’s money to be made?

Still, a few people have held out hope the one of the last remaining top firms will stick it to Cravath and all the other followers with a Skadden level bonus. Unfortunately, this morning another top firm fell into the Cravath morass. Paul Weiss associates were informed this morning:

Thank you for your contributions to the Firm and for your important role in helping accomplish the extraordinary results we achieved for our clients this past year. Below is a schedule of 2008 associate bonuses by class.

Class Year: Bonus

2008: $17,500 (pro rated)

2007: $17,500

2006: $20,000

2005: $22,500

2004: $25,000

2003: $27,500

2002: $30,000

2001: $32,500

2000: $32,500

Weil? S&C? Bueller? Frye?

Read the full memo after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: Paul Weiss Gets It Over With”

new hampshire.gif* No trial for you! New Hampshire’s Superior Court is shaving a month of jury trials off of next year’s calendar because of its budget crisis. [New York Times]

* 9/11 masterminds recant their guilty plea because they want the death penalty. [Washington Post]

* Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo is taking the leaders of L.A.’s largest gang to court. The twist? It’s a civil suit, seeking monetary damages on behalf of L.A. neighborhoods for “property damage, loss in property value, emotional distress, personal injury, medical expenses, and out-of-pocket expenses” [Los Angeles Times]

* Ten percent of UVA 2Ls have not found “summer internships” yet. Alumni suggest they head to Nashville or Denver. [Daily Progress]

* Embattled Ninth Circuit Chief Judge Alex Kozinski is getting media attention again, for raunchy, politically-incorrect joke round-ups e-mailed out to friends, colleagues, journalists, lawyers and judges. Sadly, we were not on the Easy Rider Gag List distribution list. The jokes are kinda hilarious. [San Jose Mercury News]

* Five Blackwater guards charged with murder in killings of Iraqis. [Boston Globe]

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