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Happy new year 2009.jpg* Many people are pointing out that if you read through Vicky Iseman’s complaint against the New York Times (authored by Washington & Lee Law Dean Rodney Smolla) it is pretty interesting. [Ideoblog]

* Holiday fun with Mike Huckabee. [What About Clients?]

* Celebrity drug use law. They’re still hiring! [Popsquire]

* A group of Atheists’ want the presidential oath of office changed. If they succeed, let’s hope the new oath includes a reference to a golden calf, just to drive the point home. [The BLT: The Blog of the Legal Times]

* Cocktails and bowling and hitting on women and more bowling. [Sweet Hot Justice]

* Happy New Year. My liver and I always approach New Year’s Eve like Rocky before the first Apollo fight. Have a happy and “survivable” New Year.

Quinn logo.jpgMost people know that partners often write off associate hours and paralegal hours when it comes time to bill clients. Quinn Emanuel is no different.

But managing partner John Quinn has had enough. Just before Christmas, Quinn sent around an email to his fellow partners (no associates were included on the distribution list) urging them to keep a closer eye on billing:

Month in and month out, partners request write‑offs from bills, giving the same reasons. All of them are preventable. The most common reasons are as follows:

Among the reasons Quinn listed was associates taking their own initiative by assigning work to paralegals:

Associates or others delegating work. One sure way to lose control of staffing on a case is to tolerate associates assigning out work to other associates or paralegals. Associates are told they shouldn’t do this, but it happens from time to time. Associates need to be reminded that they do not have authority to assign work to others.

Bang! Well, tell us what you really think:

Associates being inefficient, spending too much time on assignments. For any significant assignment, an associate should always be given a time budget ‑‑ how much time they should spend on the project or how much time they should spend before reporting to the partner on their progress. It should never come as a surprise to a partner that an associate has spent twice as much time as the partner expected.

Read the full Quinn memo after the jump to learn more about how partners really think.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “John Quinn Cracks a New Year’s Whip”

ATL 2008 in review.jpgAs 2008 draws to a close, your ATL editors are looking back over some of our favorite stories of the year. On Monday, we named our law students of the year. If you already checked it out, you may want to revisit it — a third student fought his way onto the list, per popular demand.

Today, we’re looking at the pet rocks/Rubik Cubes/slap bracelets/Beanie Babies (depending on your generation) for law schools around the nation. After the jump, find out which three trends we deemed the most important in 2008. Law school deans, read on to find out what’s hot at a law school campus near you.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Top Law School Stories of 2008 (Part 2): The Hottest New Trends”

law firm associate bonus watch 2008 biglaw bonuses small.jpgAkin Gump sent its bonus memo around the New York office yesterday. No real surprises. Akin is giving the “New York Market Bonus” to associates in good standing.

One bit of excitement is that “associates and counsel who performed in a truly exceptional manner in terms of both quality and productivity” may get “discretionary merit bonuses.” So if you’re an Akin NY associate who billed over 2400 hours this year, it may not have been done in vain.

The memo includes the increasingly common warning about a possible salary freeze come 2009. See the full memo, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: Akin Gump”

fruitcake.jpg* The chairwoman of a Chinese dairy company pleaded guilty to selling tainted milk. [Reuters]

* A federal judge declined Tuesday to release two detainees from the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, finding that the U.S. government had proved that they were enemy combatants. [The Washington Post]

* Senate Democrats will not accept the appointment of Roland Burris because he is tainted by the corruption of Gov. Blagojevich. Obama publicly agreed with their decision, despite Rep. Bobby Rush’s (D-IL) contention that the U.S. Senate shouldn’t turn away a black man. [The Associated Press]

* The 9th Circuit rejected the outrageosly long 28-years-to-life-sentence for a California sex offender who registered his address late to local police. The court says it was “cruel and unusual punishment” for a technical violation. [Los Angeles Times]

* Instead of sending their client’s fruit baskets for the holidays, Boston firm Conn Kavanaugh Rosenthal Peisch & Ford donated $10,000 to a local charity. [The Boston Globe]

* An 85-year-old man from New Jersey admits he passed U.S. nuclear secrets to Israel after gaining access to a military library in Dover, New Jersey. [Bloomberg]

ATL 2008 in review.jpgThis 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.

Read about the #5 stories, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Top Biglaw Stories of 2008: #5 (Gossip)”

woman in lab coat.JPG* 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]

pay freeze salary freeze pay cut law firm.jpgJust 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.

Just to be clear, A&P announced bonuses on December 12th last year.

Why can’t A&P make a decision on New York bonuses right now like other top 20 firms? Another tipster opines:

It is generally agreed that not announcing the bonuses in NY is totally asinine.

A&P can’t pull the trigger on associate salaries either. More on that after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide Pay Freeze Watch: Arnold & Porter & Scarlett O’Hara Decide ‘I’ll Think About it Tomorrow’”

Sidley Austin new logo Sidley Austin Brown Wood ATL Above the Law blog.jpgSidley 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.

But, as one tipster put it:

I’d still rather work at Sidley than Latham.

So there’s that.

Earlier: Sidley Austin Shows Firms How to Deal With Associates During the End Days

Associate Bonus Watch: Sidley Matches New York Market, Takes the Show to Chicago

mayer brown logo.JPGOn Christmas Eve, Mayer Brown announced its bonuses for associates in the New York office. They matched the market– no surprises there. But our tipster noted that associates at the firm are unsettled by rumors making the rounds of layoffs coming in 2009. Mayer already laid off 33 attorneys, as well as administrative staff in November.

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.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide Layoff Watch: What will 2009 bring for Mayer Brown?”

ATL 2008 in review.jpgWe’re doing a series of “2008 in Review” posts here at ATL. We’ve previously declared a Lawyer of the Year, as well as two three Law Students of the Year.

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.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Top Biglaw Stories of 2008: #5 (Business)”

baby devil.jpg

* 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. []

* 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. []

* “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]

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