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pay freeze salary freeze pay cut law firm.jpgThe latest news from Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe will make Latham & Watkins associates feel marginally better. There is now another major firm freezing associate salaries:

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:

:( Bummer.

Latham said that they were freezing salaries in part to avoid firing attorneys. But Orrick has already been through massive layoffs.

Is this move by Orrick an attempt to stave off even more layoffs?

Read the full Orrick memo after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide Pay Freeze Watch: Orrick follows Latham”

transfer student transfer law school.jpgLast 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:

  • Transfer students are gunners.

  • Transfer students get to skip out on the hellish first year at a top school, and then ride the curve to graduation.
  • Law schools game the system with transfer students. They get the extra tuition money and avoid hurting their US News ranking by not factoring in the GPAs and LSAT scores of transfer students.
  • Transfer students may well be gunners, but they are also being gunned… as in hunted. In “Northwestern Unapologetically Poaches 1Ls at Other Schools,” Paul Caron of the TaxProf Blog pointed us to a recent ABA Journal article that picks up on the themes of our open thread. From the Journal:

    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.

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Poaching 1Ls: A new perspective on transfer students”

    pay freeze salary freeze pay cut law firm.jpgI hope that a jolly Turkish Saint brought Dorsey & Whitney associates something spectacular for Christmas. Because a pay raise was certainly not one of their stocking stuffers.

    A memo went out to Dorsey& Whitney associates on December 23rd explaining the bad news:

    Management and staff have just completed the 2009 forecasting and budgeting process. In order to protect our people and resources, and to prepare for what all anticipate will be a tough 2009, the Management Committee reluctantly decided to freeze all associate and staff salaries (except associate productivity bonuses) effective immediately. Although equity partners do not receive a salary, their compensation is impacted by the economy as well. As soon as the economy stabilizes and the prospects for the legal industry brightens, we will end the firm-wide salary freeze.

    Unlike Latham & Watkins, Dorsey & Whitney is promising to end the pay freeze as soon as the economy stabilizes. That could happen in 2009.

    Pay freeze > massive layoffs. Right?

    Read the full memo after the jump.

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide Pay Freeze Watch: Dorsey & Whitney”


    tiny shopping.jpg

    * Anti-government demonstrators in Thailand swarmed around the Parliament building Monday, delaying the new legislature’s first meeting. [International Herald Tribune]

    * Bloggers beware! A Maryland court will decide whether authors who write critical comments on-line under pseudonyms will have to reveal their identity. (yikes!) [The Baltimore Sun]

    * New York chief court judge Judith Kaye officially retires Wednesday. Now a highly celebrated Judge, Kaye was not an easy sell when Cuomo appointed her to the state court of appeals. [The New York Times]

    * US Courts will stil see a steady flow of terrorism threat cases, even when Obama is president. [The Washington Times]

    * In light of recent events in Gaza, the Iranian cabinet has decided file suit against Israeli officials in international courts. [Trend News Agency]

    * Holiday sales were the worst in 40 years, so expect to see a ton of bankruptcies and take-overs in the near future. [Bloomberg]

    law firm merger small.jpgJust because it’s after Christmas it doesn’t mean that law firms are done with their holiday shopping.

    A tipster reports an intriguing possibility about Texas powerhouse Locke Lord Bissell & LIddell and IP shop Morgan & Finnegan:

    Locke Liddell is acquiring Morgan & Finengan. Don’t think it’s final yet.

    Tipsters from both firms have heard the news, but obviously nothing has been finalized. Firm spokespeople could not be reached for immediate comment over the holidays.

    Both firms appear to have been prudent during the economic crisis. We reported that Morgan & Finnegan lost a number of partners over the summer, while Locke Lord no-offered more than half of their summer associates. But we haven’t received any reports of wide scale associate layoffs at either firm.

    That could change if this merger goes through. A tipster reports:

    Rumor has it that Lock Liddell will be laying off a number of Morgan & Finnegan lawyers as part of the merger.

    Is this a gift that Locke Lord will cherish? Or is it one that Morgan & Finnegan will want to take back to the store? We’ll keep you posted.

    Earlier: Nationwide Layoff Watch: Morgan & Finnegan

    Nationwide No Offer Watch: Locke Lord’s Sub-50% Offer Ratio

    Thumbnail image for barack-obama-official-small.jpg* Every president over the past 30 years has had to speak with a federal prosecutor. “Here the guy hasn’t even gotten his tuxedo for the ball yet and already there’s a prosecutor who wants to talk him,” says Skadden’s Robert Bennett, about Barack Obama’s new record for being interviewed by investigators in the Blagojevich scandal. [New York Times]

    * How’d Marc Dreier do it? Lots of chutzpah. [Bloomberg]

    * Among these 12 angry men, there was a lustful couple. A convicted killer is appealing and demanding a new trial, because things got hot and steamy between two sequestered jurors. [Courthouse News Service]

    * A judge in Georgia should win an award for cultural insensitivity. Judge Keith Rollins sent a Muslim woman to jail for wearing her hijab in court, as she was violating a courtroom rule against head coverings. [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]

    * And you thought your law school experience was rough. [Wichita Eagle via TaxProf Blog]

    Rockefeller Center Christmas tree small.jpgTo those of you who celebrate it, Merry Christmas! We hope you’ve been spending the holiday in the company of family and friends, rather than at the office — or in front of a computer screen.

    But if you are stuck at work right now, here’s a little post to let you know that we’re thinking of you. Think of it as our Christmas gift to you.

    See you tomorrow!

    ATL 2008 in review.jpgIn Monday’s ATL / Lateral Link survey, we asked you to cast your vote for the 2008 ATL Lawyer of the Year.

    More than three thousand ballots were cast, but there can be only one Lawyer of the Year.

    Starting at the bottom, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich may not have hit the very lowest point in Chicago political history, but he did manage to get the lowest tally in our vote, with only 96 supporters.

    Harvard Law Avenger Phil Telfeyan was a close second-to-last in your esteem, with a mere 110 votes.

    funny-pictures-princess-cat-is-finally-being-recognized.jpgJudge Halverson rounded out the bottom three at 167 votes.

    That makes THREE! THREE! THREE candidates who did worse than Count Layoffula! HA! HA! HA! (He received a total of 233 votes.)

    Listen dude, you really want the Spitzer? Apparently not. The prosecutor-turned-commentator came up only average in our slate of nominees, with 288 votes.

    Nervous T-10 1L may not have found a job this year, but he touched the hearts of 428 voters, landing him in the Final Four.

    Marc Dreier — if that’s his real name — swindled up 485 ballots, more votes than disgraced governors Eliot Spitzer and Rod Blagojevich combined. Way to rock the scandal vote, sir. You’re the Second Runner-Up for the 2008 ATL Lawyer of the Year.

    That leaves us with the final two. Will last year’s runner-up, President-elect Barack Obama, finally be Number That One? Or will The Anonymous Laid-Off Big Firm Attorney finally get something to soothe his pain? (Elie won’t share his pot.)

    Find out who will be crowned the 2008 ATL Lawyer of the Year, after the jump.

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Life Survey: Lawyer of the Year”

    law firm associate bonus watch 2008 biglaw bonuses.jpgMayer Brown has wished its NYC associates a merry Christmas Eve with bonuses matching the New York market (a.k.a. the Cravath/half-Skadden model).

    Our tipster tells us there is no official word as to pay raises for 2009.

    This announcement comes a month after Mayer announced layoffs of 33 attorneys, as well as administrative staff. Our tipster says rumors are making the rounds at Mayer of further layoffs in 2009.

    Merry Christmas?

    Full bonus memo after the jump.

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: Mayer Brown”

    pay freeze salary freeze pay cut law firm.jpgThe 2009 salary freeze is steadily spreading through the bottom half of the Vault 100 firms. Yesterday, Venable held a firm-wide meeting to discuss bonuses and salary. Our tipster reports that Venable is hopping on the crowded pay freeze bandwagon.

    Looks like we’re paying out “normal” bonuses (i.e. well below market) to those who billed enough, but we’re freezing salaries. Management says we are sound financially but freeze is needed to make it through. The decision may be reconsidered if economic conditions improve.

    Other firms instituting a pay freeze have said they will review the decision on a specific date (March for McDermott Will & Emery; April for Bryan Cave; and mid-year for Womble Carlyle). The most shocking of the pay freezers, Latham, indicated a year-long deep freeze. Venable is keeping the decision open-ended, to be “reconsidered if economic conditions improve.”

    As far as bonuses go, Venable does not have a lock-step model. Those who hit 1950 hours are eligible for bonuses, ranging from 5k to 20k.

    As always, send your salary and bonus tips to tips@abovethelaw.com. We’re semi-dormant today and tomorrow, but exciting news could rouse us from our egg nog induced stupor.

    Earlier: Bonus/Salary Meeting at Venable

    Prior ATL Coverage of Salary Freezes

    Sullivan Cromwell holiday swag Christmas gifts 2008.jpgThis is a depressing time for the economy and for the legal profession. But there are pockets of happy holiday news out there. From a tipster:

    I’m a 2L who just received a holiday gift from the Texas-based firm with which I will summer. The gift is nothing particularly fancy — a decent quality firm-themed blanket and sweatshirt — but the gesture was nice in what have been particularly dark times for the legal market.

    Two things came to mind when I received it: (1) are other firms still doing small gestures like this for their incoming summer associates, and (2) how are Texas firms faring overall in the downturn.

    If you have tips about Texas, feel free to send them to us, and we might do a post if we get a critical mass of them. We tend to go where our tipsters take us. If we write less about a given topic, it’s generally because we’re not getting any tips about it.

    On the issue of holiday gifts from law firms, what is your firm doing? Are incoming summer or full-time associates getting Christmas care packages from their future overlords? Or has the recession turned law firms into Scrooges?

    There is some anecdotal evidence that the recession has trickled down to law firm holiday swag. Last year, we reported that Sullivan & Cromwell was showering recruits with mugs, hot chocolate, cookies, and blankets. What is S&C doing this Christmas season? A Sullivan-bound 3L reports:

    A box of cookies and hot chocolate. No blanket, mug, or candy this year.

    Times are tough, kid. Just be happy you have a job waiting for you after law school.

    Happy holidays!

    Earlier: Law Firm Holiday Swag: What Did You Get?

    Marc Dann.jpg* Our old friend Marc Dann is back in the news. The Inspector General report on Dann say he turned the Ohio AG’s office into a “house of scandal.” The many outrageous happenings in the Dannimal House included his hiring of a bunch of young ladies that he called the “Dannettes” whose conduct and dress were so inappropriate that they had to be sent to etiquette classes. [Columbus Dispatch]

    * The D.C. Circuit has reversed its ruling on coal-fired power plant emissions. It says it’s better to have the flawed Clean Air Interstate Rule temporarily in place than no rule at all. [New York Times]

    * If you search for “above the law naked pictures”, it’ll stay on your “personally identifiable search data” record for nine months with Google and considerably longer with Microsoft. Privacy advocates cheer Yahoo’s decision to reduce its holding time from 13 months to 90 days. [New York Times]

    * Weil, Gotshal & Manges may have given half-Skadden bonuses to its associates, but it’s paying out the big bucks to Fordham Law School. Weil wrote Fordham a $1 million check, and now has a classroom named in its honor. [Business Wire Press Release]

    * A California appeals court refuses to acknowledge some dude’s civil right to a Mother’s Day freebie tote bag from the Los Angeles Angels. The gender discrimination charge didn’t fly because the giveaway was based on motherhood, not on gender. [Courthouse News Service]

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