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Secretary.jpgLast week, we posted an open thread to discuss end-of-the-year gift giving to your secretary and/or paralegal. We’ve waded through the many comments to fish out some points of consensus.

  • A few secretaries appeared on the thread to urge associates to give cash or an AmEx/Visa gift card equivalent, and not a gift card to a specific restaurant, bookstore or department store. As one secretary says, “if you decide on giving gift certificates/store cards – I sincerely hope your next bonus will be paid in the same currency.”
  • New York appears to have its own scale. Even with the bonus slash, many associates are still giving their secretaries $100 per each year the associate has worked at the firm.
  • For those outside of New York, your little gift bundle of holiday joy can stay in the $100-250 range, with junior associates giving about $100, mid-levels giving about $150, and senior associates giving $200+.
  • In case comments are not indicative of general trends, here are some polls to see what your peers are doing. New York is its own world, and gets its own poll:

    And what about the trend across the rest of the country?

    One commenter says that even if you have a bad secretary, “one of those ‘can’t make a copy’ people,” associates should still give a small gift, but should not feel obligated to give a hefty cash bonus.

    More polls — about who you are giving to, and how to handle gift-giving if you’ve changed secretaries — after the jump.

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Further Thoughts: The Time for Giving (to your Secretary/Administrative Staff)”

    David Gregory Meet the Press Cravath Swaine Moore.jpgBased on the anemic associate bonuses recently announced by Cravath, one might think that the firm is hurting. We hear that work at CSM is a little slow — and that there may be some anxiety over the staggering cost of the firm’s $900 million lease at Worldwide Plaza.

    But don’t shed tears for Cravath just yet. The firm is still getting some high-profile engagements. From the New York Observer:

    When agent Richard Leibner’s phone was ringing off the hook one night last week, everyone was asking him the same thing: Was his longtime client David Gregory the next host of Meet the Press, or wasn’t he? He called back, telling reporters he could neither confirm nor deny the report that first appeared on the Huffington Post.

    Perhaps this was because his agency, N. S. Bienstock, wasn’t representing Mr. Gregory on the deal. So who exactly was aiding the ambitions of NBC’s robo-newsman? ….

    On Monday morning, with the deal finally made public, white-shoe New York law firm Cravath, Swaine, & Moore posted a brief item on its Web site, crediting two of its partners — Eric Hilfers and Robert Joffe — for handling the negotiations.

    This engagement probably didn’t generate the seven- or eight-figure fees that billion-dollar M&A deals generate. But it’s still a cool and interesting gig, the kind that stands out to 2Ls going through fall recruiting.

    More after the jump.

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Watch Out, Ari Emanuel: Cravath Branches Into Celebrity Representation”

    law firm associate bonus watch 2008 biglaw bonuses.jpgRopes & Gray has announced the bonus structure they will be paying to junior associates across all of their offices. While the structure is nominally a Half-Skadden payout (which might work just fine for Boston based attorneys), there are a bunch of interesting caveats.

    The basic structure is as follows:

    Class: Base Salary: Bonus: Total Compensation

    2008: $160,000: $17,500 (prorated): $177,500

    2007: $160,000: $17,500: $177,500

    2006: $170,000: $20,000: $190,000

    But there are some opportunities for top Ropes associates to make a lot more, while associates who are low on hours get nothing:

    As you know, we have an activity target of at least 1,900 billable and pro bono hours to be eligible for a bonus. This year, we have increased bonuses from the above scale for associates who worked substantially more than the targeted amount, and decreased rather than eliminated bonuses for many associates who worked substantially less. We did not apply the hours target to associates in the class of 2008 because their integration into client matters is still in progress. We have also adjusted bonuses in unusual circumstances where an associate’s performance review is substantially below our expectations.

    More after the jump, including the full Ropes & Gray bonus memo.

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: Ropes & Gray Goes for a Half-Skadden, With a Twist”

    WolfBlock Wolf Block Schorr Solis Cohen.jpgIf you watched any ESPN this weekend, you might have caught SportsCenter’s ridiculous coverage of Philadelphia 76ers coach Maurice Cheeks getting fired. Cheeks is the fifth NBA coach to get fired before Christmas (which is a record, apparently) and somebody at ESPN decided that it was appropriate to merge the “bloodbath” of NBA coaches into the larger story about nationwide unemployment numbers.

    Therefore, I’ve decided to hand over the rest of this post to Stephen A. Smith so everybody can learn the latest about another Philly institution (Wolf Block) with the appropriate level of histrionics.

    Holla! I got this from a SOURCE last week that Wolf Block was layin’ down the smack on 15 cats right before your Christmas or your holidays or WHATEVER YOU WANT TO CALL IT. They got the straight heave-ho yo!

    My source tells me that the REDUCTIONS were based on the economics of America, not the performance of their ballers.

    After the break, management talks straight.

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide Layoff Watch: Wolf Block Fires Mo Cheeks 15 Associates and Staff”

    funny-pictures-your-cat-asks-why-you-are-throwing-him-away.jpgWe received 1,037 responses to last week’s ATL / Lateral Link survey on layoffs, which is up a bit from 800 this summer.

    As we feared, the number of reported layoffs is also up a bit from this summer:

      * Roughly 11% of associates reported public layoffs at their firms, up from about 4% this summer.

      * 21% accused their firm of “stealth layoffs,” up from 18%.

      * 7.5% said that their firm was firing support staff, but not associates, up from 4.5%. (22% of these respondents said that staff attorneys were affected, 45% said paralegals were being cut, and 85% said that other support staff were getting the axe.)

      * In contrast to this summer, when over half of associates felt like things were “just fine”, that number has fallen to only 35%.

      * 16% of respondents say that even though layoffs haven’t yet hit their firms, they fear that they are on the way.

    Survey Responses: Is your firm conducting layoffs?

    Yes, and they’re being public about it. 10.61%
    Yes, but they’re “stealth layoffs”. 21.02%
    People have been asked to leave, but it’s performance-related. 1.42%
    The firm is laying off support staff, paralegals or staff attorneys, but not associates.   7.52%
    No, but the firm has frozen salaries. 1.74%
    No, but I’m afraid they’re coming. 15.91%
    No, everything’s fine. 34.81%
    I don’t know. 6.08%

    See who’s getting hit where, after the jump.

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Life Survey: Chop! Chop! The Economy’s Slow.”

    S&C logo.jpgI think I speak for many ATL readers and Biglaw followers when I ask: when the heck is S&C going to announce its 2008 associate bonuses?

    Because the delay is getting ridiculous. It’s December 15th. All of S&C’s peer New York firms have announced already, except for Weil — and historically speaking we can’t expect Weil to move before S&C. S&C has always been a market leader on this matter. What gives?

    One tipster puts the extent of S&C’s delay in stark relief:

    S&C normally pays our bonus along with our December paycheck. Today, however, my December paycheck posted to my account, but no bonus along with it. Still no announcement from them regarding the change, so this is rather surprising.

    It now seems likely that S&C won’t pay a dime of the 2008 associate bonus in 2008. That’s annoying. Essentially, the conversation over at S&C seems to be going like this:

    S&C: I got a threshold. I got a threshold for the abuse that I will take. Now, right now, I’m a f**** race car, right, and you got me the red. I’m just saying that it’s f*#^@! dangerous to have a race car in the red. That’s all. I could blow.

    ATL COMMUNITY: Oh! You ready to blow?

    S&C: Yeah, I’m ready to blow.

    ATL COMMUNITY: Well, I’m a mushroom cloud laying mother$^&er, mother@%^&er. Every time [I open my inbox and don't see a fair compensation message], I’m Superfly T.N.T., I’m the Guns of the Navarone!

    Get with the program S&C.

    Happy Monday.

    Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of associate bonuses.


    * Investigators looking in to Bernard Madoff’s ponzi scheme “found evidence he ran an unregistered money-management business alongside his firm’s brokerage and investment-advisory subsidiaries.” [Bloomberg]

    * A little insight into how Marc Dreier cheated even the best businessmen. [New York Times]

    * Regardless of whether Gov. Rod Blagojevich resigns today, Democrats will have to decide whether to appoint or elect Barack Obama’s replacement. [Washington Post]

    * … Meanwhile Illinois lawmakers try to pick up the pieces. [Chicago Tribune]

    * Another merger fell apart this weekend. Apollo Inc. will not be acquiring Huntsman corp. Litigators will still be kept busy because Huntsman plans to continue its law suit against Credit Suisse. [Reuters]

    * New Zealand’s anti-trust regulator says airlines are acting like a cartel. [The Financial Times]

    If you thought the Kirkland & Ellis holiday party reminder was out of step with these sober times, here’s an invitation you might find more appropriate:

    holiday party invitation invite law firm.jpg
    Quips our tipster: “Nothing says ‘holiday cheer’ like preemptive admonitions against bringing anyone to the party you might actually WANT to talk to, driving home Toonces the Cat-style, or groping your peers.”

    P.S. In fairness, the “no spouses / guests” policy is par for the course at firm holiday parties. Most firms aren’t as nice as Kaye Scholer on this score.

    Earlier: Kirkland & Ellis Sends Holiday Party Reminder

    samantha ronson martin garbus.jpgLindsay Lohan is kind of over as far as celebrity gossip goes: no more car accidents, no more sloppy drunk photographs, and in a relatively stable relationship. But now Lohan’s girlfriend, Samantha Ronson, is getting pulled back into the tabloids, and she’s dragging First Amendment attorney Martin Garbus along with her.

    Martin Garbus prides himself on being “one of the country’s leading trial lawyers” and for “aggressively represent[ing] his commercial and criminal clients in both the courts and the public media.” He sounded like the perfect fit when Samantha Ronson decided to file a defamation suit against celeb gossip blogger Perez Hilton for calling her a “lezbot” and accusing her of selling access to Lohan to paparazzi.

    According to the Los Angeles Times, the suit did not go well. Ronson didn’t want to pay Garbus’s exorbitant bills. She lost the suit. Now she’s on the hook for her and Hilton’s legal bills, to the tune of over $200k. Her solution was to sue Garbus for malpractice. He sued her right back for unpaid legal bills.

    Ironically, the suit transformed Garbus, who had called celebrity blogs “trash,” into an unwitting comrade in Hilton’s quest for dirt on Ronson.

    In order to defend himself, Garbus is going rooting in the garbage of Lohan and Ronson’s life together:

    Garbus’ attorneys have identified Lohan as the most critical witness in the case besides the two litigants and have requested information concerning their relationship, finances, possible drug use and alleged rehab stays. In one measure of how far his defense plans to go, they have asked for copies of every text message and e-mail between the women over the last two years.

    A trial is scheduled for May in Los Angeles. The parties spent the last few months squabbling over procedures for deposing Lohan and Ronson after lawyers for the women raised concerns that videotapes of the pretrial Q & As would be leaked to the media.

    The only winner in all this seems to be Perez Hilton:

    Watching from the sidelines, Hilton’s lawyer said he was stunned Ronson was pursuing the case. Coverage of the first suit had extended the life and increased the audience for a small blog item, he said, and the malpractice claim was making it even bigger.

    Lindsay Lohan’s gal pal Samantha Ronson in big legal spat [Los Angeles Times/Newsday]

    lipstick building.JPG* I was a little confused as to how Bernard Madoff’s giant ponzi scheme could have gone unnoticed for so long by authorities or investors. Then I heard that New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon was invested in Madoff. Now … everything makes sense. (This n-e-v-e-r happens to the Yankees. Ever. I’m going to short-sell K-Rod’s rotator cuff right now.) [Dealbreaker]

    * Here are 11 things that Blagojevich was about to try. It’s pretty funny, but there’s no need to dog Rick Lazio (idea #3). “Strong” Island 4 Life! [Culture 11]

    * There’s an etiquette for “thank you” notes? Maybe junior associates should start writing little thank you notes to their firms’ major clients. “Dear Sir/Madame: Thanks for utilizing only sound and legal business practices. I appreciate your ability to remain in business and resist the impulse to ruin my career. You’re the best!” [What About Clients?]

    * A Tulsa 3L thinks that his colleagues have lost their “manliness” and as started a blog to help them find it again. Thing is, he’s married. Which means his advice — on things like carving a turkey and picking out a Christmas tree — can be summarized as “things real non-married men never, ever have to do.” I mean come on, carve a turkey? Real men don’t use “utensils.” [Legal Blog Watch]

    * God Alyssa Milano is hot. No, I’m not a stalker or anything, but man. Umm … that Andy Samberg sure is funny. [Popsquire]

    Dean Elena Kagan strikes again. From an HLS press release:

    Lawrence Lessig law professor Larry Lessig.jpgRenowned legal scholar Lawrence Lessig has been appointed to the faculty of Harvard Law School, and as the faculty director of Harvard University’s Edmond J. Safra Foundation Center for Ethics. The announcement was made jointly today (Dec. 12) by Harvard University Provost Steven E. Hyman and Harvard Law School Dean Elena Kagan.

    Lessig — a widely acclaimed expert in constitutional law, cyberlaw, and intellectual property — comes to Harvard from the faculty of Stanford Law School. Prior to joining the Stanford faculty in 2000, he was on the faculty of the University of Chicago Law School and Harvard Law School.

    Dean Kagan and HLS have been on a tremendous hiring spree. One source sums it up: “Can we get a list of who’s left — not counting federal judges like Posner, Easterbrook and Calabresi — that Kagan hasn’t scooped up in the last few years? Dworkin? Ackerman? Epstein?”

    Says a second: “Dean Kagan is a juggernaut. In spite of losing about 25 percent of its endowment, Harvard is apparently not in a hiring freeze.”

    More discussion, including words from Professor Lessig, after the jump.

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Musical Chairs: Larry Lessig to Harvard Law School”

    broward county.jpgBroward County has given us many, many Judges of the Day in the past. Now the county has earned the dubious distinction of our first ever “Courthouse of the Day” award. The central courthouse building is a disaster area.

    From Courthouse News Service:

    A 2-inch pipe burst on the second floor, courthouse communication center, damaging about 3,000 civil, family, traffic and misdemeanor files….

    The building has broken elevators and tottering plumbing, air conditioning and electrical systems. Its mildew problem has led two longtime judicial aides to notify the county of their intent to sue. They say the mildew has given them severe pulmonary problems.

    The courthouse’s Welcome Page indicates jurors (and assumedly attorneys and court staff) are not off the hook though. They are required to report as scheduled.

    The Sun Sentinel has concerns about the effect of the decrepit courthouse on constitutional rights:

    The constitutional access to courts is blocked because of aging water pipes, flooded rooms and a prior lack of urgency. Telecommunications into and out of the hub of our local legal system are downgraded to cell phones for judicial assistants and walkie-talkies for bailiffs.

    That’s right. Because the phone lines are out, the court has posted cell phone numbers for all the judges. So if you were hoping to score the number of hottie former Judge of the Day Ana Gardiner (or at least her judicial assistant), now’s your chance.

    Broward citizens deserve, demand working courthouse [Sun Sentinel]

    Broward County Courthouse Is Falling Apart [Courthouse News Service]

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