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empire of taxes.JPGNew York City mayor Michael Bloomberg could be preparing to raise taxes:

To close budget gaps in the year that starts next July the mayor is thinking about a combination of sales tax increases and income tax hikes.

“Every city agency must push each dollar further,” Bloomberg said. “We’re going to do that and doing that means making hard choices that will not be popular with everyone or perhaps anyone.”

The mayor proposed raising the income tax by either 7.5 percent or 15 percent.

15 percent? Tastes like loss of purchasing power.

If New York associate salaries remain flat (a near certainty) then the incentive to work in NYC is … free Knicks tickets?

These new taxes could push the cost of living in New York well beyond the expenses of living on the International Space Station:

“Increasing the personal income tax would be a disaster for the city,” said Nicole Gelinas of the Manhattan Institute. “It’s hard to overestimate that fact. We’ve already got the highest local personal income tax in the nation.”

And this is of course before you take into account Obama’s planned tax increases on individuals making more that $250,000.

If you’re a mid-level NYC associate, it might be time to consider the legal market in New Hampshire.

Tax Hikes, Budget Cuts In The Works For NYC [CBS]

Christian Legal Society logo.JPGThe Christian Legal Society had their big conference in Washington, DC, but not all of the participants walked away feeling good about the direction of the organization. One tipster reports:

I attended the CLS conference in Washington and was surprised and disappointed by its focus on the culture wars. The law student portion of the conference turned out to be two things. 1. It was a pity party for how Christian groups are so oppressed. (Right, because Jesus’ disciples thought following him was the ticket to getting on Law Review and SBA. Ummm. See Acts 1:1-28:30.) 2. The focus was an “us against them” rallying cry back to the culture war. There was much talk about the “Membership Statement of Faith and Sexual Morality Standards” that CLS chapter board members apparently have to sign, but nothing about compassion and caring that is supposed to mark Christians. See Matthew 25:35-46. At least for those of us who walked out in disgust, it was a very sad thing to witness.

In a follow up email sent yesterday, the Director of the Center for Law & Religious Freedom Christian Legal Society emphasized CLS’s “non-discrimination” policies:

As you will recall, I made a short presentation during the NSLC on Saturday afternoon. I distributed hard copies of the Q&A we prepared regarding the application of nondiscrimination policies to CLS law school chapters. For your convenience, I’ve attached an electronic copy to this email. …

Are you having any difficulties on your campus? Does your law school forbid student groups — even religious ones like CLS — from “discriminating” on the basis of religion, sexual orientation, marital status, or gender identity?

Please let me know. I’d very much appreciate hearing from you. And please let me know if there is anything that the CLS Center can do to serve you.

Blessings in Christ.

How the Christian Legal Society interprets anti-discrimination after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “A Guide Around Anti-Discrimination Laws:
Brought to you by The Christian Legal Society”

funny-pictures-tollbooth-cat-will-accept-burger-payment.jpgWe received 1,054 responses to Monday’s ATL / Lateral Link survey on when raises happen at your firms.

As expected, the overwhelming majority of you — almost 80% — said that your firms raise salaries in January.

But the rest of you are probably in for a wait. More than half of the associates who aren’t getting raises in February reported that raises will happen later, not earlier, at their firms.

Results: When Does Your Firm Adjust Salaries

Month Percentage
January 79.3%
February 6.5%
March 4.0%
April 1.4%
May Less than 1%
June Less than 1%
July Less than 1%
August Less than 1%
September   1.4%
October 2.2%
November Less than 1%
December 2.9%

Respondents reporting October raises included associates at Kenyon & Kenyon, Curtis Mallet-Prevost, Quarles & Brady, and a few boutiques. February raisers included Foley & Lardner, MoFo, Paul Hastings, Drinker Biddle, Akerman Senterfitt, and WolfBlock. According to attorneys at K&L Gates, Seyfarth Shaw, and Moore & Van Allen, March is the month for step-ups in salary.

Bear in mind, though, that some firms that announce raises in February or March may apply those raises retroactively to January 1. And, in a tough financial climate, we may see more firms delay raise announcements this year or perhaps, as one commenter predicts, announce raises of zero:

Remember you read it here first. At least 10 AmLaw firms will decide in January 2009 that they will not move salaries up to “the next class.” The stagnation in the market will – when combined with the trough in net earnings cause firms to say “we are holding you where you are – which is better than having to RIF 10-15% of you.” This will be the year the air goes out of the tire of associate raises.

Several firms did indeed freeze salaries during the last recession.

But that’s not to say that billing rates won’t go up. In fact, there’s a good chance they already have. Most respondents receiving raises in January said their rates go up during the fall — or even the summer — before:

Results: When Does Your Firm Adjust Billing Rates

Month Percentage
January 48.4%
February Less than 1%
March Less than 1%
April -
May Less than 1%
June Less than 1%
July 5.6%
August 1.7%
September   24.3%
October 14.4%
November 3.6%
December 1.0%

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

Will Work for Food 2 Above the Law blog.JPGAs reported in these pages, a few large law firms are rescinding offers of summer associate employment. Some of the rescissions have been firm, with the firm essentially saying, “this offer is no longer available to be accepted.” Some have been softer, cast as “our offer is still open, but if you show up, we can’t guarantee an offer of permanent employment.”

In a series of posts, Elie has urged those of you going through fall recruiting and sitting on an offer (or offers) to accept as soon as possible. This is also the advice of several law school career services offices. We’ve previously posted a number of memos from CSOs urging quick acceptance; two new ones, from Cardozo and Vanderbilt, appear after the jump.

There is much wisdom in this advice — but the situation may be a bit more complicated than it might seem. From the UVA Law Blog:

[T]his “no sitting on the offer” business that ATL keeps propagating…. is far more complex than it would seem. Basically, there seems to be two somewhat contradictory underpinnings of this advice. First, you should accept an offer ASAP because holding multiple offers opern for too long hurts your fellow students. Second, you should accept an offer ASAP because you are likely to lose it if you don’t; therefore it’s in your own best interest. These are two different concerns, and we’ll try to disaggregate them.

Read more, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Accept Your Offers: An Alternative Viewpoint”

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* A puppy named Afro was rescued from a burning law firm in South Africa, and his owner promptly “smothered him with kisses.” [Independent Online]

* Google dumped its needy girlfriend Yahoo, forgoing their advertising partnership instead of going to court to fight an anti-trust law suit filed by the US justice department. Yahoo is disappointed to say the least. It seems totally unreasonable. Google, a monopoply? [Financial Times]

* Yesterday, SCOTUS discussed whether or not an Eritrean prison guard should be given asylum in the United States, even though he participated in torturing and killing inmates. The guard says he should be forgiven because he performed these acts under “duress.” A similar case with a Nazi prison guard served as precedent. [The New York Times]

* What’s in a name? Democrats swept the courts in Harris County, Texas. If that surprises you, consider the Houston Chronicle’s explanation for why four republicans kept their seats: their democratic opponents had unusual names. [Houston Chronicle]

* Labor union workers were among those dancing in the streets Tuesday night. The landslide Democratic sweep on Tuesday promises to change labor laws. [Market Watch]

gay marriage skadden.jpgWell, Prop 8 passed in California.

Other states also passed ballot initiatives to ban gay marriage (Arizona and Arkansas Florida). Arkansas passed a measure to prevent gay men and lesbians from adopting.

The ACLU respects democracy, except for when the ACLU thinks that voters get it “wrong.”

The American Civil Liberties Union, Lambda Legal and the National Center for Lesbian Rights, filed the suit Wednesday on behalf of Equality California and six unmarried and possibly deprived same-sex couples. The plaintiffs urge the court to invalidate Proposition 8 on the grounds that the initiative process itself violated California’s Constitution in aiming to prevent the judiciary from its duty to uphold equal protections for a minority: gays and lesbians. Any measure that changes the underlying principles of the Constitution, the plaintiffs charge, must first be approved by the state legislature before reaching a voter’s ballot.

“A major purpose of the constitution is to protect minorities from majorities,” said ACLU of Northern California staff attorney Elizabeth Gill.

Back to the courts! Again. Article III pwns “people.”

California’s gay marriage ban, Proposition 8, faces court battle [Page One]

Bans in 3 States on Gay Marriage [New York Times]

Earlier: Countdown to California’s Prop. 8 Showdown

white house profs.JPG* Two law professors in the White House for the first time ever. We’ll see if they understand the whole “Constitution” thing. [The BLT" Blog of the Legal Times]

* A non-election, cocaine addled roundup. [Legal Blog Watch]

* Virginia is still trying to catch up with Brown v. Board of Ed. [Supreme Dicta]

* Billing by the hour doesn’t really make sense, does it? [The Non-Billable Hour]

chocobos.JPGBloomberg is reporting that fees are expected to jump between 6 and 7 percent in 2009. Of course, associates are blamed:

Even with corporate backlash, many firms are still planning fee increases of 6 percent to 7 percent for 2009, said Andrew Johnman of Barclays Capital in New York, which lends to law partnerships.

“You would’ve thought firms would have backed off in this environment,” he said.

Rate increases in recent years reflect rising costs, particularly in the competition for associates. Firms raised pay for salaried lawyers by 16 percent in 2006 and by 10 percent in 2007. Associate salaries held steady this year.

New law school graduates earn $160,000 a year in big New York firms. Some of them paid senior associates bonuses of as much as $115,000 last year.

Sure. Firms increase fees to subsidize greedy associates with an overdeveloped sense of entitlement. Profits per partner have nothing to do with it.

Still, some firms are trying to respond to the market conditions:

Lawyer Mark Peroff made a promise to the Japanese maker of the video game “Final Fantasy” when he moved to Hiscock & Barclay, a 200-attorney firm in upstate New York: I’ll cut my legal fees if you follow me.

The answer from his Tokyo-based client Square Enix Holdings Co.: “We’re on board,” according to Peroff, who works out of Hiscock’s Manhattan office and says he’s undercutting larger New York firms’ hourly fees by up to 20 percent.

Companies including Square Enix, Shell Oil Co. and Fidelity Investments are trying to reduce legal costs after swallowing 6 percent to 9 percent annual fee increases over the last eight years, according to the Association of Corporate Counsel. Hourly rates should drop in 2009, given the decline in legal business with the economic slowdown, the Washington-based group said.

As long as everybody has chocobos, who can complain?

Peroff Discounts 20% to Win `Final Fantasy’ Maker’s Legal Work [Bloomberg]

cindymccain.jpgLast night was one that made history, and not just in the ways you would think. As crowds stood at the Biltmore Hotel and at Grant Park, two women, one who would have been First Lady and one who became First Lady-Elect, stood by their husbands wearing what was historically each woman’s worst outfit during the entire two year campaign trail. The screams and cries you saw on tv and heard from your window were not the agony of defeat and the exhilaration of change, but rather the despair of a nation at the devastating fashion choices made by Cindy McCain and to a lesser extent, Michelle Obama.

John McCain’s exceptionally gracious concession speech was in stark contrast to his wife’s monstrous skirt suit, the color of mononucleosis urine. That she chose to go in costume as Gulden’s Mustard four days after Halloween in a feeble attempt to prove that she’s a kid at heart like the rest of us, speaks to her impetuousness and poor decision making skills – the same shortcomings her husband suffered in his selection of Sarah Palin as a running mate. True taste requires people to disregard the label, whether it be Female Governor or Oscar de la Renta, and see the selection for what it is – in both cases, a shimmering banana. My friends, our election of Obama has spared us an administration of Santa pantsuits, and crusty St. John knits.

That’s not to say that our First Lady-Elect fared well last night. She wore a Narciso Rodriguez red and black ombre dress with an obi sash similar to the ones worn at Benihana and cropped black cardigan. I didn’t hate it, but the dress appeared to be on fire. The outfit comes as a blow to many Americans who expected Michelle to knock it out of the park as she has done previously in Thakoon. No doubt two years on the road is as grueling physically and mentally as it is wardrobe-wise, but a less than stunning election night dress is NEVER ok, nor for that matter is a purple tapered jean which she once wore at a rally to universal horror.

America voted for change last night. It is my sincerest hope that Michelle’s victory speech dress is not an indicator of four more years of fashion mediocrity. Yes we can.

Shenanigans.JPGThe National Law Journal reports on the many, many lawyers who busted their tail (on both sides) making America a barely functional democracy:

In Ohio, New Hampshire and Virginia, lawyers scrambled to file court documents in election-related lawsuits. But in most states, lawyers were working to prevent litigation by fielding calls at centers housed at area law firm offices or traveling to polling locations to address voter concerns. Some states had unique issues, such as improper signage in Florida, missing absentee ballots in California and a shortage of interpreters for Asian-American voters in New York’s Chinatown.

Thanks to all who volunteered their time.

Nonetheless, a plethora of shenanigans ensued:

Jon Greenbaum, director of the Voting Rights Project, said the election did not go smoothly in Virginia, Pennsylvania, Florida, Michigan and New Jersey. … The bottom line, according to Greenbaum: “The system is not designed to deal with a high turnout election and we’re seeing the effects of a lack of planning and resources.”

Recount!

Malfunctioning Machines, Ballot Glitches, Election-Law Litigation — and a Busy Day for Lawyers [Law.com]

Earlier: Election Shenanigans Watch: VA and (Sadly) Florida

whoville holiday.JPGSo, some firms are not canceling their holiday parties.

Dechert’s makeup may be fading, but (apparently) the show must go on.

Dechert is still having its annual Holiday reception (cocktails, dinner and dancing) and, as usual, everyone at the firm is invited and everyone gets to bring a guest. The only changes are that it is on a Wednesday at the Grand Hyatt near GCT now (rather than on a Thursday at the Waldorf, as it had been for several years).

Be. Our. Guest! Be our guest, put our service to the test.

Meanwhile, Orrick is cutting back but not canceling their holiday party:

When: Friday, December 12th from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Where: The Orrick Building – 10th Floor

Let’s raise a glass together in appreciation for another year of hard work and good cheer.

Conference room holiday party. Yay?

Well, it’s better than being fired.

Earlier: Nationwide Layoff Watch: O’Melveny & Myers

wachtell logo.jpgYesterday was Election Day not just for the nation, but also for Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz. Wachtell, one of the country’s most prestigious and profitable law firms, traditionally elects its new partners on the Tuesday after the first Monday of November.

The firm just elected half a dozen new partners — a robust number, suggesting that things are going well at WLRK. Congratulations to our former colleagues Ian Boczko (litigation), Damian Didden (antitrust), Matthew Guest (corporate), David Kahan (executive compensation and benefits), David Lam (corporate), and Ante Vucic (corporate). They will become partners of the firm effective January 1, 2009.

Thanks to Wachtell’s insanely high profits and (roughly) lockstep compensation system, they will soon be millionaires. Back in the late 1990s, rumor had it that newly minted partners earned $1.5 million in their first year. The number must surely be higher today, since WLRK’s profits per partner are so much higher now — for 2007, PPP clocked in at a shade under $5 million (or $4.9 million, to be more precise).

We might start doing weekly round-ups of partnership announcements. If you’re at a major firm — say, Vault or Am Law 100 — and have partnership news to pass along, please email us (subject line: “New Partners”).

The full Wachtell Lipton memo, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Who wants to be a millionaire? Meet Wachtell’s new partners. (And send us news about new partners at your firm.)”

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