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Blank Rome LLP Counselors at Law Above the Law Blog.jpgThis isn’t super-exciting news, since the key point — an increase in starting salaries — was previously announced.
But in case you’re interested, the pay raise (and bonus) memo of Blank Rome — which announced an increase in first-year associate salaries last fall, but said it was still “reviewing the compensation levels for all Associates to make appropriate incremental increases based on class year” — appears after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide Pay Raise (and Associate Bonus) Watch: Blank Rome”

Lateral Link Laterallink Above the Law blog.jpgCongratulations to our good friends over at Lateral Link, ATL’s career partner. They just got a great write-up in the Wall Street Journal, which identifies them as a Web 3.0 recruiting trendsetter. Reporter Sarah Needleman writes:

What’s so different: Lateral Link generally limits access to its job postings to graduates of top-tier law schools with a minimum of two years of work experience. About 5,000 applicants have been approved to date. Unlike most job sites, Lateral Link’s recruiters get in direct contact with members who apply for the positions it lists. Another distinction: Lateral Link pays a $10,000 bonus to members who land positions at law firms, though not corporations.

“Through our Web-based platform, we’re able to operate much more efficiently than a traditional recruiting firm, and therefore are able to pass along our cost savings to the job hunter,” says T.J. Duane, a principal at Lateral Link, which was founded by three Harvard Law School graduates. The reward is also consistent with the referral bonus that many law firms pay associates, he adds.

You can read the rest of the piece, which also includes testimonials from happy lawyers who landed jobs (and multiple job offers) after working with Lateral Link, by clicking here.
Members Only: LateralLink.com [Wall Street Journal]

associate bonus watch 2007 law firm Above the Law blog.jpgThe season for bonus news is mostly over, but not just yet. Yesterday brought news from Bingham McCutchen:

Bingham has started delivering bonus news. In all offices except New York, it looks to be something like the Latham scale you posted about a few weeks ago. Higher scale in NYC, but not sure how much. Don’t have too much information yet – it is communicated individually in annual reviews.

If it’s similar to the Latham scale, then people should be pretty happy (since the LW folks generally were). If you’re at Bingham, feel free to provide some data points in the comments.

A summary of what was paid out will be sent out to everyone in a few weeks. As in past years, you have to hit 2000 hours. Higher amounts at 2150 and every 100 hours after that. Policy for next year is being raised to 2100, but more non-billable type stuff is now able to be included towards the 2100.

We have a copy of that policy, which you can access by clicking here (PDF). One source described it to us as “convoluted,” and the memo setting forth the policy certainly is lengthy (12 pages, counting tables). But look on the bright side: at this level of detail, where they even talk about how your hours get adjusted if you have jury duty or take bereavement leave, at least there’s total transparency (unlike at some firms).
Bingham McCutchen — Associate and Counsel Hours and Bonus Policy [PDF]

Covington Burling LLP logo Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.JPGIn these grim economic times, don’t hold your breath waiting for news of associate pay raises or record-breaking bonuses. Everyone is tightening their belts, and that includes law firms (and their clients).
But what about enhanced parental leave? That they can do.
The latest Biglaw shop to raise “primary caregiver leave” to the “market” rate of 18 weeks is Covington & Burling. Memo after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Biglaw Perk Watch: Covington & Burling to 18 Weeks”

* U.S. to seek death penalty for some Gitmo detainees. [CNN]
* DOJ announces arrests of individuals accused of selling secrets to China. [New York Times]
* Europe may require fingerprints at borders. [Washington Post]
* Reggie Bush to be deposed in lawsuit alleging he took money from promoters in college. [ESPN]
* Panic! at the cell phone. Blackberry service disrupted across continent last night. [MSNBC]

Blackberry Crackberry Blackberries baby Above the Law blog.JPGHere’s some news that must have had many lawyers tearing out their hair (or what’s left of it). From the AP:

A major service outage afflicted users of the popular, addictive BlackBerry smart phones across the United States and Canada on Monday. Officials with AT&T Inc. and Verizon Wireless said BlackBerry maker Research in Motion Ltd. told them customers of all wireless carriers were affected….

Garth Turner, a member of the Canadian Parliament, said during a caucus meeting that the incident — the second widespread disruption in 10 months — was having a big impact.

“Everyone’s in crisis because they’re all picking away at their BlackBerrys and nothing’s happening,” Turner said. “It’s almost like cutting the phone cables or a total collapse in telegraph lines a century ago. It just isolates people in a way that’s quite phenomenal.”

When the Canadian Parliament grinds to a halt, you know the situation is grave.
So how were you affected by the BlackBerry outage? Were you forced to stay in the office due to an inability to receive wireless email? Did a crucial email message fall through the cracks? Did you suffer from delirium tremens, a well-known symptom of CrackBerry withdrawal?
Feel free to vent, in the comments.
BlackBerry Service Out in N. America [Associated Press]
RIM reports “critical” BlackBerry outage [Reuters]

* Musical Chairs: Law School Edition. See which (if any) of your favorite law professors, or friends of yours who are now law profs, are lateraling for greener pastures. [The Faculty Lounge via Concurring Opinions]
* We’re no longer sure what the real deal is in L’Affaire Berenson. But we’re no longer sure we care. [Starkman & Associates]
* Do you heart Huckabee Girl? We don’t blame you; she looks like Angelina Jolie. [YouTube via Superdeluxe.com]
* Blawg Review #146, hosted by the Invent Blog — which is quite apropos, since today is National Inventor’s Day. [Invent Blog via Blawg Review]
* Speaking of Blawg Review, will we soon learn the identity of its anonymous editor? [Legal Blog Watch]

Infamous plaintiffs lawyer Bill Lerach just got sentenced for his role in the Milberg Weiss kickback scheme. He got the highest sentence possible under the plea agreement, which was also the sentence sought by the government: 24 months imprisonment. For more, see links below.
Random resemblance of the day: Bill Lerach and Ricky Gervais’s character-within-a-character on “Extras.” Compare this (photo accompanying story) with this (short video clip, “Are You Having a Laugh?”).
Lerach Gets Maximum Term [The Recorder via Law.com]
Breaking News: Bill Lerach Gets Two Years in Prison [WSJ Law Blog]
Are You Having A Laugh? [YouTube]

Norman Schoenfeld Allen Overy LLP Above the Law blog.jpgThe Magic Circle law firm of Allen & Overy, defendant in Schoenfeld v. Allen & Overy, has just filed its Answer (PDF). They’re hoping to make Norman Schoenfeld’s claims disappear. Schoenfeld, an observant Jewish lawyer who once worked at the firm, alleges that A&O discriminated and retaliated against him as a result of his observing the Sabbath.
We contacted the firm for comment. Here is their statement:

Allen & Overy denies all allegations of discrimination. This person’s employment was terminated based solely on performance within his orientation period, a trial period of time mandated for all employees. He also failed to disclose to Allen & Overy the fact of his previous employment at another law firm.

Our firm has a strict written policy prohibiting any form of discrimination, and we provide all new employees and partners training in both diversity awareness and harassment prevention. Over the past several years, we have also instituted live diversity training for all of our existing attorneys and managers. We will vigorously defend our proud reputation of diversity and inclusion and are confident of a positive outcome for Allen & Overy with respect to these allegations.

More discussion, including interesting information from tipsters, after the jump.
Update (5/9/08): The case is settling. See here.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Schoenfeld v. Allen & Oy-vey-ry: A&O’s Answer
(Plus more about Mark Wojciechowski)”

Ally McBeal Calista Flockhart micromini skirt miniskirt Above the Law blog.jpgAlthough many tipsters emailed us about it, we never wrote about this buzz-generating Wall Street Journal article, reporting on how many older lawyers are displeased by the overly informal, even sloppy attire of their younger colleagues. We didn’t write about it earlier because we felt preempted: the piece received lots of online attention, from such widely read outlets as the ABA Journal and the WSJ Law Blog, where it generated heavy comment traffic.
But now we have a new angle on it. Focus on these portions of Christina Binkley’s WSJ article:

[Winston & Strawn D.C. managing partner Thomas Mills] says he is partial to well-fitted Brioni suits for himself. He notes that the going rate for new associates in New York, Los Angeles and Washington is $160,000 a year — enough to buy suits while paying down school loans. Yet all too often, associates show up at work in jeans — attire that he doesn’t condone “unless it’s moving day.”

Winston & Strawn brought in a personal shopper from a local department store last year to address associates on how to shop and dress for work. Mr. Mills says that when some associates do make an effort to dress up, they seem to base their look on Hollywood. “You get the TV-woman lawyer look with skirts 12 inches above the knee and very tight blouses,” he says. “They have trouble sitting and getting into taxis.”

burka burqa burkha burqha.jpgThese remarks apparently didn’t go over too well back at Winston:

W&S DC office’s managing partner comes off as a total a**. His comments re: his custom suits are one thing. But his comments re: the way women in the office dress have created a stir….

People are seriously pissed, particularly the women. Man comes off as a total pig…. Read the article, you’ll see why.

This is prime ATL material. Firm has called impromptu associates meeting for 9:30 Monday, no topic given. But the guess is it is damage control.

The guess was correct. More about the meeting, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Time for Winston Women To Go Burqa Shopping?”

We received just over one thousand responses to last Tuesday’s ATL / Lateral Link survey on politics in the workplace. Seventy-four percent of respondents reported that they discuss politics in the workplace. Eighty percent noted that associates discuss politics, and sixty-four percent said that partners discuss politics. Only thirty-eight percent said that staff members discuss politics.
While political discussion apparently fills the halls, political campaigning is less pronounced. Twenty percent of respondents said that associates at the firm had tried to convince them to vote for someone, and about fifteen percent said that an associate had asked them to contribute to a campaign. Only twelve percent of respondents said that partners had tried to swing their vote, but roughly sixteen percent reported that a partner had solicited a contribution. About sixteen percent of respondents felt that their firms encouraged them to participate in political events, either for personal satisfaction or as a rainmaking opportunity.
Barack Obama Hillary Clinton Above the Law blog.jpgDespite all the politics in the air, less than three percent of respondents felt that they needed to conform to a particular view. Eighty-two percent of respondents felt no such pressure, and about fifteen percent reported that they only felt pressure to conform around certain people. Huckabee supporters felt the most pressure, with 37% feeling pressure to conform around certain people, and another 10% feeling pressure to conform in general.
Overall, Obama supporters outnumbered both Clinton and McCain voters roughly two to one, and McCain had a better than two to one lead over Mitt Romney, who has since dropped out of the race. Only one percent of respondents heart Huckabee as a candidate. (In the “who made Mike Huckabee” vote, Chuck Norris held a slight edge over Stephen Colbert, who, in turn, outpaced Conan O’Brien almost eight to one. Most respondents, however, attributed Huckabee’s success to support by evangelical voters.)
Earlier: Featured Job Survey: Office Politics?

A Plus grade pass fail grading law school Above the Law blog.gifMost law students are well into the spring semester of law school. First- and second-year students will soon have to pick their courses for fall 2008.
Here’s a subject that may be on some of their minds: pass / fail grading. Check out this interesting article in the Stanford Daily (from last month; we came across it belatedly, while going through our 4,000-email backlog over the weekend):

In a departure from tradition, record numbers of first-year law students chose to take at least one of their first semester courses pass-fail this year.

Law students have traditionally found themselves in a bind when choosing to “3k,” the common term for pass-fail grading. Students interviewed independently described the situation repeatedly as a “prisoner’s dilemma,” referencing the archetypal problem of decisions made with imperfect information.

Choosing to be graded pass-fail, whatever one’s personal reasons, could cause problems if the student is one of only a handful of students to do so in the law school class. However, last semester somewhere between one-third and one-half of first-year students elected to take a class pass-fail, a fact which affects the way the action is perceived by others.

There was this whole issue before where employers might say it’s an oddity,” said first-year law student Chris Wells. “[From orientation onwards] a lot of us wanted to make it a real option at the law school.”

The SLS students were spurred to action by one of their peers:

First-year law student John Kimble drafted an open letter about the 3k decision and sent it to the first-year student email list on the last day students could choose their grading basis. Seeing the letter and the excitement it generated emboldened students to take the pass-fail option and also gave the student body an indication of the movement’s support.

So, ATL readers, what do you think? Is taking more courses on a pass-fail basis a smart move, or is it ill-advised? What types of courses lend themselves best to being taken pass-fail? For those of you involved in hiring — of law firm associates, law clerks, AUSAs, etc. — do you askance at transcripts with lots of pass-fail classes?
And will this trend spread to other law schools? Or is it a luxury available only to students at places like small and selective Stanford, where even academic underperformers can still land good jobs?
P.S. Stanford Law School students seem to be in the vanguard these days when it comes to taking a stand against some of the more stressful or unpleasant aspects of the legal profession. The school is also the home of Building A Better Legal Profession, a group of law students pushing to reform Biglaw. For their mission statement, click here.
First-years go pass-fail [Stanford Daily]
building a better legal profession [official website]

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