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law firm associate bonus watch 2008 biglaw bonuses.jpgAnother law firm informed associates that their hard work was worth half of what it was a year ago. Davis Polk & Wardwell is the latest firm to announce Half-Skadden bonuses.

The official DPW bonus structure is as follows:

Class of 2008: $17,500 (prorated)

Class of 2007: $17,500

Class of 2006: $20,000

Class of 2005: $22,500

Class of 2004: $25,000

Class of 2003: $27,500

Class of 2002: $30,000

Class of 2001 and senior $32,500

So much for elite law firms paying their associates at the top of the market. Instead, Cravath has succeeded in opening the door to the “thank you sir, may I have another” theory of associate retention and company morale.

It could be worse. These guys are are still getting a bigger bonus than law students who interviewed with Skadden this year. Yay seniority!

What is particularly annoying about the DPW memo is that they act like they are meeting the market with these bonuses, as if Skadden doesn’t even exist.

We are pleased to announce that associates in good standing will receive a bonus payment as outlined below. …

We thank all our associates for their diligent and skillful efforts as we support our clients in this challenging economic environment.

“Pleased to announce.” Not “horribly embarrassed that we are slavishly short-changing our associates because Daddy-Cravath said it was okay.”

Read the full memo after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: Davis Polk & Wardwell Joins Cravath/Simpson in Race to the Bottom”

Thacher.jpgThacher Proffitt & Wood has been struggling for some time. A memo sent by managing partner Paul Tvetenstrand to TPW staff the Wednesday before Thanksgiving provides the latest evidence of the firm’s faltering state:

From: Paul D. Tvetenstrand

To: Non-legal staff

As you are aware. The past year has posed many challenges for the firm given the downturn in the economic climate which has affected our clients and ultimately the firm. Unfortunately given this continuing downturn the firm will not be able to pay any bonuses or year end service awards this year. We truly appreciate the contributions each of you has made in these trying times and we wish we were able to recognize each of you as you deserve.


I’m not at all sure why TPW tried to bury this information within the Thanksgiving news cycle. Did they think TPW staffers were not going to notice? Maybe they were thinking of maintaining their industry reputation, but most people who have been paying attention already know that TPW is in serious trouble.

More TPW back story after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Thacher Proffitt & Wood Staff Get The Shaft”

Fried Frank Harris Shriver Jacobson LLP Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpg… And now back to our regularly scheduled programing …

We are now able to report that at least 15 litigation associates at Fried Frank have been laid off in the past week.

At least 15 litigation associates, but the numbers could be higher. Multiple tipsters report that there are many “skeletons” in the Fried Frank closet right now.

Over a week ago, we reported that 15 corporate associates had been let go. At that time, we also said that the number of corporate layoffs could be higher than 15. We’ve received information since then that more than 15 corporate associates were laid off, but we can’t get a handle on the true number. So, conservatively speaking, we’re reporting 30 associates that have been let go from Fried Frank over the past two weeks.

More about Fried Frank’s layoffs after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide Layoff Watch: Fried Frank Stealth Layoff Update”

funny-pictures-macys-parade-cat.jpgIn today’s ATL / Lateral Link survey, we explore whether you actually had a happy Thanksgiving.

Last year, ATL posted an open thread on Thanksgiving Horror Stories, and reported tales of busy litigators:

I heard of opposing counsel on the East Coast that scheduled a deposition on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, knowing that the counsel from California will likely have Thanksgiving plans torpedoed.

I also heard of a partner who told an associate that a party was moving for a TRO on the Monday following Thanksgiving. The associate worked on the case on Thanksgiving and the weekend. The associate later found out that the partner learned on Wednesday that the TRO was off-calendar, but the partner neglected to tell the associate — because the partner was preoccupied with getting out of the office for his own Thanksgiving plans.

Of course, even a year ago, there was a much more depressing prospect than working on Thanksgiving. As Loyola 2L put it:

What’s more horrifying than working during Thanksgiving is the thought of being unemployed next Thanksgiving with six-figures of student loan debt.

This year, with work slowing at many firms, what was your experience? Did you have to work over the holiday?

Update: This survey is closed. Click here to see the results.

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

small paris.jpg* Paris isn’t the only Hilton getting in trouble for sex. The former manager of a restaurant in the Hilton Minneapolis is suing the Hilton for “undirected” sexual harrassment because he walked in on upper management having an orgy. [Courthouse News Service]

* GMAC LLC, the financing arm of General Motors, is not allowing holders of so-called SmartNotes to exchange thier notes for more secure bonds. The exchange, which the company is offering as a ploy to get some of the bail-out money, is “limited to institutional notes and does not include retail debt instruments.” This means that holders of SmartNotes may get nothing if the company goes bankrupt, which could lead to some serious law suits. []

* Lawyers: 1, bankers: 0. Former bankruptcy lawyer James H.M. Sprayregen is returning to Kirkland & Ellis after a three-year stint in the restructuring group at Goldman Sachs. The decision represents a triumph for corporate lawyers in their long standing rivalry against financiers. [The New York Times]

* Protestors in Thailand have concentrated their efforts on the airports in anticipation of a court verdict Tuesday that will likely order the Somchai’s People Power Party to disband. [Reuters]

* A plea-deal has been offered to an 8-year-old boy in Arizona, who confessed to killing his father and another man. [ABC News]

* The Federal Trade Commission is stopping the merger of two software companies because of the potential loss of competition. Capitalism will prevail! [Courthouse News Service]

Barney.jpg[Ed. note: Today is still a holiday in the blogosphere. High chance of low-frequency posting. If you are stuck at work today and in need of distraction, check out ATL Courtship Connections or think about what you want to wear to Tuesday's ATL Meet the Editors night.]

* “I love you. You love me…” Those who violate noise ordinances and find themselves before Colorado Judge Paul Sacco will face a sentence of Barney the Dinosaur and Barry Manilow. [Rocky Mountain News]

* New middle class trend that’s hotter than flat screen TVs: nixing legal fees by serving as one’s own attorney. [Boston Globe]

* The government still needs lawyers though. Here are tips on landing a BigGovernment job. [Building a Better Legal Profession/Lexis Hub]

* Legal aid facing shortfalls around the country. [Seattle Post Intelligencer]

* The 20 must-read legal stories from the year. [InsideCounsel]

[Ed Note: Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by the tragedies in Mumbai yesterday. The events are just another reason to be thankful for what you have this holiday season.]

Holiday turkey dog.JPGIf you’re working today — I’m so sorry. But ATL is with you, even though I’m still reeling from being RickRolled by Santa Claus and Macy’s.

If there are Half-Skadden or Skadden-Mart associates working hard over Thanksgiving weekend, I admire your professional commitment. For the rest of Biglaw associates spending Thanksgiving chained to a BlackBerry, I hope your work is rewarded.

But while we wait for additional firms to announce bonuses, we’ve gotten some additional information about another Biglaw “perk,” holiday parties.

We’ve covered firms like Orrick that are scaling back on holiday festivities, and firms like Kaye Scholer that are going full speed ahead. Are holiday parties an early indication of which firms will be in the spirit of giving come bonus time? We don’t have good information about the holiday plans at Cravath or STB.

But we do at Skadden. A Skadden tipster gleefully reports:

[W]e were just told that the annual Holiday Party is on December 11. Aren’t most firms canceling parties?

I can only imagine that the tipster sent us the email and then took a gold-plated bath.

Another holiday announcement, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Holiday (Party) News”

turkey.jpg[Ed. note: Happy Thanksgiving, ATL readers. We'll be posting sporadically today and tomorrow, as the spirit of the turkey moves us. Singles, if you've got holiday down time, check out ATL Courtship Connections.]

* MySpace cyberbully verdict. Lori Drew found guilty of three computer fraud misdemeanor charges, with deadlock on the conspiracy felony. [New York Times]

* Being an attorney won’t protect you from being tased. Tampa lawyer Carl Roland Hayes became irate and verbally abusive at a community board meeting, slapped an officer in the face, started fightin’ and flailin’, and then got the taser. Twice. [Tampa Tribune]

* “More legal work moves to India, including ‘sexy stuffs.” [Wall Street Journal Law Blog]

* U.S. District Court Judge Michael Mosman gives the death penalty to sea lions in Oregon. [Seattle Times]

* Heath Ledger “Law and Order” episode in the works. [Boston Herald]

champagne glasses small.jpg

If the photos of this week’s contestants look a little stiff, please understand that it’s because the NYT didn’t run pictures of any lawyer weddings this week, forcing us to Photoshop them from the attorneys’ firm bios. You’re welcome. And Happy Thanksgiving!

Here are this week’s Legal Eagle Wedding Watch finalists:

1. Elizabeth Raizes and Kayvan Sadeghi

2. Amy Stutius and Adam Slutsky

3. Sara Rubenstein and Yariv Ben-Ari

Read our assessment of these couples, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Legal Eagle Wedding Watch 11.22: Big Red Heart”

pyramid scheme capstone small.jpg[Ed. Note: We'll be posting here and there over Thanksgiving. So check back in with us once Dad and Uncle Tommy start fighting over why we lost in 'Nam. Happy Thanksgiving!]

* The great Biglaw Pyramid is collapsing. Some people are actually pretty happy about this. [The Greatest American Lawyer]

* The firm United, States & America is still hiring. Here are some tips for landing the government job you could have scored straight out of law school. [BBLP via LexisHub]

* Blawg Review’s upcoming blue ribbon lineup. There’s not a turkey in sight.

[Blawg Review]

* Lawyers get laughs from the SCOTUS gallery. I bet there’s no bonus for that either. [Holy Hullabaloos]

* Outsourcing of legal work isn’t slowing down. I feel sorry for this year’s 1Ls. Next year’s 1Ls are just being silly. [WSJ Law Blog]

barbara orr.jpgThis story sounds like something written by Dr. Seuss, esquire. The city of Louisville, Ky., had planned to incorporate Seussian characters into its annual Christmas display this year. But the plans have been scrapped after receiving a cease-and-desist letter from DLA Piper’s Barbara Orr, who represents Seuss Enterprises.

From the Associated Press:

The city had planned to use “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” as part of its theme for the annual Light Up Louisville holiday celebration. The display called for an area called “LouWhoVille,” complete with costumed characters from the Dr. Seuss classic such as Cindy Lou Who and the Grinch…

The letter demanded the city and the Louisville Convention and Visitors’ Bureau halt any use of the characters for the Christmas display and agree not to use the characters in the future without permission. It threatened legal action if the city and tourism bureau did not comply.

The city is complying and renaming the display Lou-ville. “It appears these lawyers’ hearts are two sizes too small,” Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson told the AP.

We say shame on Abramson for perpetuating small-hearted lawyer stereotypes, especially given that he’s a Georgetown Law grad.

Seuss lawyers stop holiday Who-ville in Louisville [Associated Press]

funny-pictures-kitten-has-a-happy.jpgOn this, the day before Thanksgiving, our ATL / Lateral Link survey ponders just how many of you are actually giving thanks.

Back in April, we reported that many (but not most) associates were in decent spirits:

  * 25.8% of respondents said their morale was “good.”

  * 11.5% said their morale was “great.”

  * And 3.3% of respondents thought their morale “couldn’t be better.”

But those were relatively light-hearted days, when Bear Stearns had only just collapsed, and Heller Ehrman and Thelen were still looking forward to their respective 119th and 85th birthdays.

Now that AIG and Merrill Lynch and Lehman Brothers have fallen, and various layoffs have unfolded, and a sobering half-Skadden bonus structure has spread to STB, how are you feeling today?

Update: This survey is closed. Click here to see the results.

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

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