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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]

law firm associate bonus watch 2008 biglaw bonuses.jpgSo much for O’Melveny & Myers setting the bonus market for L.A. Proskauer Rose announced their bonuses this afternoon, and they will be paying the Cravath scale across all of their offices.

That’s good news if you’re in Boston, expected news if you’re in New York, and a slightly disappointing confrontation with reality if you’re in Los Angeles.

This bonus news comes less than a month after Proskauer announced layoffs of 35 associates and 25 administrative staff. We even have reports that some Proskauer first-year associates were laid off this month. Against that backdrop, still having a job is hopefully bonus enough for those still at Proskauer.

Proskauer declined to follow OMM’s bonus lead; will they follow Latham’s salary lead? We don’t have any word on the status of Proskauer’s pay raises, but at this point, no news is good news.

Earlier: Nationwide Layoff Watch: Proskauer Cuts 60 People

Prior ATL coverage of associate bonuses

Facebook logo MySpace Friendster Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpg* “Does Your Law Firm Face-block? Take this Survey!” [Stem Legal]

* News you can use: how to drink in a work-related context. Hey ladies: “some male attorneys will probably try to get you drunk in order to hook up with you.” [Concurring Opinions]

* Written without irony by Eliot Spitzer: “As Justice Brandeis observed, sunlight is the best disinfectant.” [Slate]

* Marc Dreier got by with a little help from his friend: former stockbroker Kosta Kovachev, another alleged impersonator. [City Room / NYT]

* Sorry, Hillary — the $13.2 million you lent your presidential campaign is not tax-deductible. [TaxProf Blog]

* Credit Crunch: The Board Game. If only emerging from bankruptcy were as easy as playing a “get out of Chapter 11″ card. [The Economist]

Women lawyers pay.JPGA new book details the challenges that women face as they try to climb the corporate ladder. Author Kathy Caprino argues that in many instances women’s contributions are hard to compare against “hours” and “profits.”

Careful not to blame their male counterparts, Caprino says many female professionals are dominated at work by generally white-male competitive career models that emphasize linear career paths and the assumption that top-performing women are motivated most by money and power.

Nicole Nehama Auerbach, of the Coalition of Women’s Initiatives in Law Firms, takes Caprino’s analysis a step further and argues that women have been socialized in ways that aren’t always compatible with Biglaw success:

Women often bring intangibles to the firm such as nurturing business and a knack for making client teams work, Auerbach says. And these are qualities are difficult to quantify compared to billing hours in a profit-driven world.

“I think a lot of the issues she seizes upon would never be issues men would point to as a reason for not succeeding,” Auerbach says. “Traditionally, women are not as vocal about getting what they want; women were previously conditioned not to complain. That’s very different from the way a lot of men were raised.”

Is this type of analysis really all that helpful? More after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Twelve Crises for Corporate Women”

law firm associate bonus watch 2008 biglaw bonuses.jpgDear Jones Day threadjackers:

Here is your post about the Jones Day bonus. Now please put the lotion in the basket and give me back my dog.

Okay. Yesterday, Jones Day sent around its individual compensation letters. Traditionally, Jones Day makes bonus decisions on a case-by-case basis. This year is no different, but a tipster reports that the firm has generally decided to follow the Cravath scale.

Jones Day doesn’t have a billable hours requirement. But because of the individual nature of the firm’s decisions, some associates could be receiving more than people at Cravath, while some could get far less.

We also understand that Jones Day does everything it can to keep associates from knowing what the guy down the hall is taking home. A tipster reports:

All comp is confidential here. So no one knows what anyone else gets, unless you spill the beans, which is strongly discouraged. You just get your personal comp letter with your numbers.

Firm spokespeople could not be reached for comment about their bonus structure.

Our tipsters weigh in after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: Jones Day. Bonus. Discuss.”

Brent Warren Yessin lawyer of the day.jpgThe Saturday night antics of two Florida lawyers have the makings of a great episode of the Jerry Springer show. Alleged sex in a bathroom, a girl-on-girl fighting match, and legal misrepresentation.

Lawyer-lobbyist Lawyer Aimee Marie Dias, 35, was at a swanky restaurant in Tampa on Saturday night. When she went to use the bathroom, she discovered a man and woman allegedly doing the Tampa tango. We don’t understand the sequence of events from this point, but apparently Dias threw a punch at the copulating duo. This led to a brawl between the women that spilled out into the restaurant with the ladies on “the floor rolling around exchanging punches, pushes,” according to the ABA Journal.

Labor and employment law attorney Brent Warren Yessin, 44, was waiting for the valet when police arrived. He decided to enter the fray, telling police he represented the parties involved. Though Dias and the rest denied this, Yessin was insistent. Apparently, very insistent:

[Yessin] was wrestled to the ground by four officers after he kept insisting that he represented one of the suspects and refused repeated requests to leave the restaurant, the Times reports.

Yessin was charged with obstructing an officer without violence, and apparently jailed for four hours until he posted $1,000 bail. Both Dias and Jacolow were initially arrested for battery, but agreed to drop the charges against each other.

A few lessons here: if you’re going to have sex in a public restroom, do it in a stall. If you walk in on public sex, don’t throw punches. If you’re waiting for valet, don’t try to pick up clients mid-brawl. If you live in Tampa, move away. Far, far away.

[Ed. note: Aimee Marie Dias has no relation to Aimee Marie Diaz whose profile we linked to originally.]

Best. Fracas. Ever. [The Legal Satyricon]

Female Lawyer in Fistfight, Male Lawyer Arrested in Wild Restaurant Scene [ABA Journal]

Report’s Topics: Bathroom Sex, Lawyer’s Arrest, Fight [Tampa Tribune]

On the Debevoise & Plimpton bonus post, one irate associate wrote:

Debevoise Plimpton LLP Above the Law blog.jpgDebevoise associates broke their backs this year on the Siemens case and covering for those who were on Siemens. Even though there was a slowdown in the 4th quarter, profits before then were “record-breaking” — i.e. MORE than the 25% boost Deb had last year. Last year PEP went from $1.81 million to a new high of $2.29 million. Partners are going to be bringing home this much or more this year. Understandably, next year’s bonus will decrease with the recession, but not sharing more equitably with associates now during the flush year when we flew around the globe at a moment’s notice, didn’t see our families for weeks, and worked all nighters in corners of the globe, is a huge slap in the face.

We wonder how this Debevoise drone felt after reading the long article on the Siemens bribery case published over the weekend in the New York Times (based on a joint report by ProPublica, the nonprofit investigative journalism organization; “Frontline,” the PBS program; and the NYT):

Officials in the United States began investigating the [Siemens] case shortly after the raids became public. Knowing that it faced steep fines unless it cooperated, Siemens hired an American law firm, Debevoise & Plimpton, to conduct an internal investigation and to work with federal investigators.

As German and American investigators worked together to develop leads, Debevoise and its partners dedicated more than 300 lawyers, forensic analysts and staff members to untangle thousands of payments across the globe, according to the court records. American investigators and the Debevoise lawyers conducted more than 1,700 interviews in 34 countries. They collected more than 100 million documents, creating special facilities in China and Germany to house records from that single investigation. Debevoise and an outside auditor racked up 1.5 million billable hours, according to court documents. Siemens has said that the internal inquiry and related restructurings have cost it more than $1 billion.

Readers, let’s treat this like a management consulting case study. How much will Debevoise’s profits per partner in 2008 be boosted by those 1.5 million billable hours and $1 billion in spending by Siemens? Your conjecture is welcome in the comments.

At Siemens, Bribery Was Just a Line Item [New York Times]

Venable logo.jpgVenable is generally not a market leader when it comes to associate bonuses or salary. In fact, they usually don’t announce their bonuses until January.

But today at 3:00 p.m. associates have been called in to discuss “the firm’s 2008 results and outlook for 2009.”

Kirkland had a meeting today to discuss the obvious, and maybe Venable is doing the same thing. But a tipster is at least slightly concerned about the need for today’s festivities:

Considering that we don’t usually hear anything about bonuses or salaries until January (and we’re definitely NOT market), it should be interesting to see what goes down at this meeting.

Our tipster is concerned because of Latham. So far, top firms haven’t followed Latham’s salary freeze lead. But some firms do seem to be hedging their bets and putting off decisions until January.

By the end of today, we should know where Venable stands.

Earlier: Nationwide Pay Raise Freeze Watch: Latham & Watkins

law firm associate bonus watch 2008 biglaw bonuses.jpgThe big bonus / salary meeting at Kirkland & Ellis is still ongoing. But tipsters are now reporting that K&E is essentially designing its bonus scheme around the Cravath scale (subject to the Kirkland system of adjusting bonuses for hours and performance — “above class,” “with class,” “below class,” etc.).

We’ve also heard some good news: K&E plans to raise salaries on schedule.

While the bonus news is not terribly surprising, it’s still depressing to associates who felt that K&E had a strong year:

What’s maybe most upsetting is I was told specifically that [the Kirkland bonus grid] was based off the Cravath scale. Not that the firm was hurting. Not that the firm was being conservative. Not that the firm has a pessimistic outlook on 2009. Just that someone else was getting away with being cheap, and they wanted to do the same.

That’s a constant theme from associates working at firms that have followed Cravath. This year bonus payments seem much more tied to Cravath’s announcement, instead of a reflection on the strength of the firm’s year.

But maybe firms are just trying to hunker down for a rough 2009.

Update (11:53 AM): Check out some more reader reactions after the jump.

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