This morning, as part of our 2008 in Review series, we started to list the top 10 Biglaw stories of 2008. We kicked things off with the #5 story on the business side of the ledger: the trend of law firms granting more generous parental leave.
Now, on to the fun stuff: the year’s top five stories of a more gossipy nature. As we did before, we’ll start with number five and work our way up the list.
For the fifth-ranked gossip story, we actually have a two-way tie. Both stories share a common theme: sex and bad judgment.
* Is in vitro fertilization a tax-deductible medical expense? For some people, yes; for Dr. William Magdalin, it’s just fun in a cup. [Suits & Sentences]
* Is the Wendy Savage phenomenon bad for professional women? [f/k/a]
* Funny exam questions remind us that professors would rather be doing almost anything other than grading finals. [PrawfsBlawg]
* The Millennial generation is learning a hard lesson about reality, and how much it bites. [Law and More]
* Blago taps former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris to fill Obama’s shoes. Will Harry Reid really refuse “this nice, experienced, elderly black gentleman a legally valid seat in the Senate”? [Wonkette]
Just before Christmas, Arnold & Porter sent around an intriguing memo. The firm refused to make any decisions regarding pay in New York at all in 2009:
Associate Bonuses for Associates in All Offices Except in New York
Those of you who met the previously announced thresholds and other criteria for 2008 bonuses will be advised today (by individual e-mails) that you will be receiving these bonuses. The amounts paid will be in keeping with the levels paid in 2007.
Associate Bonuses for New York Associates
We will be announcing our 2008 bonuses for our New York associates after the first of the year. Consistent with past practices, these bonuses will be paid in 2009.
A tipster begs to differ with A&P’s institutional memory of “past practices.”
Despite his wording regarding timing of payment, the bonuses were announced in early December last year.
Sidley Austin just emailed all of their associates to wish them a happy New Year. How nice. How thoughtful. How … oh wait a minute. The firm also took the opportunity to inform all associates that their pay raises would be delayed until sometime next year.
The firm-wide memo from Sidley is short and to the point:
At this time of the year, we historically have provided information about class-wide and individualized salary adjustments for next year. Given the current uncertainty in the economy and financial markets, and the impact on law firms, we are still in the process of evaluating associate salary levels for 2009. We expect to make a decision on this issue sometime during the first quarter of next year.
On behalf of all of our partners, we thank you for your professionalism and dedication.
Most of our sources are out enjoying the holiday season. But our remote reporters are generally displeased.
One sentence in the bonus memo has an ominous tone that’s making Mayer associates uneasy. The memo says that bonuses will be paid January 16, 2009 but “only to associates in good standing who are employed by the firm on the date the bonus is actually paid.” From a Mayer tipster:
People are upset about the language, (“All bonuses will be paid only to associates in good standing who are employed by the Firm on the date the bonus is actually paid.”) believing it to reinforce the idea that layoffs are happening come January 5th.
Are Mayer associates overreacting to the memo language?
Firm spokesperson Bob Harris says this is the “same language that has been used for several bonus seasons.” We looked back at last year’s memo though and didn’t see a similar sentence.
UPDATE: Associates are overreacting. Harris points us to a different 2007 memo that does employ the same language.
Harris was emphatic in saying that there are “no plans whatsoever for additional layoffs” at Mayer Brown.
Rumor mongers suggest otherwise. Predictions on the practice groups to be hit with layoffs, after the jump.
We will now announce what we view as the year’s ten biggest stories in law-firm land. We’ve divided them into two groups: the top five stories on the business side, and the top five stories on the gossip side. Collectively these stories reflect the combination of edification and entertainment that we seek to provide here at ATL. We’ll start with the #5 stories in each group and work our way up.
The year that’s about to end has been full of “business and the law” stories. Most of the news has been terrible. But it really hasn’t been all doom and gloom.
Our fifth-place story on the business end of the legal industry is objectively positive news. Read about it after the jump.
* SCOTUS may hear the case of a Texas woman who claims that an extreme religious group forced her to “exorcise her demons”, disturbing her so much that she later attempted suicide. [The Atlanta Journal-Constitution]
* On Wednesday, the federal court in Manhattan will start considering information that will infect the investor’s in Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. Furthermore, Judge Louis L. Stanton of the U.S. District Court will consider whether people who invested in “feeder funds” with other Wall Streeters who invested in Madoff’s fund will be covered under the Securities Investor Protection Corporation–a federal fund that protects investors in cases like these. [The New York Times]
* The federal government announced a settlement over a developers who build projects on wetlands in Michigan’s Midland and Bay counties–a case that has gone on for decades. [The Chicago Tribune]
*Former New York City police Commissioner Bernard Kerick pleaded not guilty in a federal court to charges of tax evasion and corruption. [CNN.com]
* Store vendors angered by department store’s mark-downs may make the stores cover more of the losses. If they succeed, they could get back $ 1.2 billion from Macy’s, Saks Inc., Dillard’s, Nordstrom, Kohl’s and JC Penney. [Bloomberg.com]
* “The 6th Circuit struck down a vehicle safety law in Michigan that banned drivers from hanging any view-obstructing baubles from their rearview mirrors. [Courthouse News Service]
Heller Ehrman’s bankruptcy has been a long time coming. The firm made the news official on Sunday:
Today the Dissolution Committee of Heller Ehrman LLP, in Dissolution (the “Firm”) authorized the Firm’s counsel to file a Petition for Reorganization under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code. We took this step only after very careful and extensive analysis.
But the firm’s Dissolution Committee also notes:
The Dissolution Committee’s decision to conduct the continued wind down of the Firm under the jurisdiction of the Bankruptcy Court was not prompted by the Firm running out of money. On the contrary, thanks to the dedication and tireless efforts of the Firm’s remaining employees who comprise the Liquidation Team, the cooperation of the Firm’s former shareholders, and the positive responses received from hundreds of the Firm’s former clients, collection of accounts receivable over the past three months has been strong. And going forward, we continue to expect collection of tens of millions of additional dollars.
After the jump, we post the full Heller memo and check in with Thacher Proffitt.
A couple of weeks ago, we told you that a small firm based in Nassau County (Long Island) was trying to add an associate off of Craigslist — for the bargain basement price of $36K – $42K.
The position hasn’t been filled yet, but there is apparently a lot of competition for the job. From the firm’s latest Craigslist ad:
I will say that overall I’ve been impressed with the creative cover letters and the excellent resumes. In any event, we haven’t contacted anyone yet, so don’t be alarmed by our silence. Enjoy the holidays. Relax with family and friends, remember what is important. Next year will be better. Now I do need to say, if we do not call you in, please understand that it is not a reflection on you, we’re a small firm and we only have one opening. I’ve received resumes from at least thirty five attorneys (and a few soon to be attorneys) that I would interview and hire in a heart beat, if I only had the time and the openings. Stay upbeat.
Relax? At the point where you are applying for $40K/year jobs over the holiday season, you are incapable of relaxing … neither is your landlord.
Of course, not all of the responses have been positive:
To the one anti – semite who thought somehow, that religion had anything to do with the salary we were offering – F*ck off – It is my Christmas wish that you remain unemployed forever, and that the closest you come to a legal job is selling Blumberg forms in a Staples.
Read the full ad after the jump. And remember, if you work in Nassau you can still live in much nicer and more economically priced Suffolk County.
After careful consideration, we have decided that associates in the US and Europe , and associates, senior consultants and consultants in Asia , will receive the same salary in 2009 as you received in 2008. Consistent with firm practice, of counsel salaries will be determined on an individual basis and generally will remain the same as 2008. We will ensure that our 2009 bonus program gives us additional flexibility to reward outstanding performance and remain competitive in the marketplace.
On the bright side, Orrick will be paying out the bonuses they promised earlier in the year:
We will pay full 2008 bonuses according to the terms of the program we announced earlier in this year.
That puts Orrick at Skadden levels. Notwithstanding the bonus news, a tipster puts the mood at Orrick like this:
Last May, we held an open thread about law school transfer students as second-class citizens, based on the University of Connecticut’s Maya Angelou-inspired “Phenomenal Transfer” poem. There was quite a lot of anti-transfer-student sentiment in the thread, though some former transfer students chimed in to say that they had experienced no animosity in their new homes.
For those put off by transfer students, there were three main themes in the thread:
Northwestern University Law School is actively–and unapologetically–recruiting top-performing law students from lower-ranked schools, a practice that some deans claim is becoming commonplace at elite institutions.
Each year, 150 or so of Northwestern’s 5,000 applicants turned down for first-year admission receive letters inviting them to apply again for “conditional acceptance” the following fall. [Ed. note: Northwestern later revised these numbers with the ABA Journal, saying they only extend 15-25 conditional acceptances each year.]
Deans of lower-tier schools resent the predatory practice. The Journal quotes Northwestern Dean David Van Zandt as saying the poaching allegation is “probably true,” but that, “Chrysler and General Motors don’t agree not to poach each other’s customers.”
Really, Dean Van Zandt? You’re looking to Chrysler and GM as your business role models?
More on transfers, and a look at the number of students bagged by top schools, after the jump.
Jiminy jillickers! ATL editors are going all over the place over the next month or so. Or at least all over the Eastern Seaboard. If we aren’t heading to your neck of the woods on these trips, never fear, we may hit you up on the next time around. We’ve already hit up Houston, Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles in the past year.
Kinney Recruiting’sEvan Jowers is currently in Hong Kong for client meetings and still has a few slots available through October 22. Evan will also be in Hong Kong November 14 to December 15. Further, Robert Kinney has been in Frankfurt and Munich this week and is available for meetings with our Germany based readers.
One of our key law firm clients has referred us to one of their important clients in the US, Europe and China – a leading global technology supplier for the auto industry – in order to handle their search for a new Asia General Counsel and Asia Chief Compliance Officer.
Kinney is exclusively handling this in-house search.
This position will have a lot of responsibility and include supervision of eight attorneys underneath them in the Asia in-house team. The new hire will report directly to the global general counsel and global chief compliance officer, who is based in the US. The new hire’s ability to make judgement calls is going to be as important as their technical skill set background.
The position is based in Shanghai and will deal with the company’s operations all over Asia and also in India, including frequent acquisitions in the region.
It is expected that the new hire will come from a top US firm’s Shanghai, Beijing or Hong Kong offices, currently in a top flight corporate practice at the senior associate, counsel or partner level. Of course, the candidate can be currently in a relevant in-house role.
The JOBS Act created new tools for companies to publicly advertise securities deals online. As a result, thousands of new deals have hit the market and hundreds of millions in capital has been raised, spurring a wealth of new business development opportunities for attorneys.
Fund deals, startup capital raises, PIPE deals and loan syndicates are just a handful of the transactions benefiting from the JOBS Act. InvestorID FirmTM is a platform designed to help attorneys equip their clients with the workflow, marketing and compliance tools to publicly solicit a securities offering online. By providing clients with the tools to painlessly navigate the regulatory landscape of general solicitation, InvestorID FirmTM helps attorneys add value above just legal services.
The Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (JOBS Act) went into effect in 2013 and permits Regulation D offerings of securities to be advertised publicly. This means that funds and companies can now use social media, emails and web sites to market transactions to new “accredited” investors.
However, with these new powers come new pain points. InvestorID FirmTM provides a secure, fully hosted, cloud-based platform with a breadth of tools for your clients, including: