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More bonus news today, this time from Schulte Roth & Zabel. The numbers are not surprising:

law firm associate bonus watch 2008 biglaw bonuses.jpgClass Year: Bonus

2008: $17,500 (pro rated)
2007: $17,500
2006: $20,000
2005: $22,500
2004: $25,000
2003: $27,500
2002: $30,000
2001: $32,500
2000: $32,500
1999: $32,500

Schulte has an hours target, but it also claims Cerberus as a major client. Cerberus owns Chrysler… so there has probably been at least a little legal work flying around SRZ.

Schulte has historically given extra bonuses to associates who go above and beyond the call of reason duty. That will not change this year. The firm announced an extra $10K for associates who hit 2300 hours, and an extra $20K for associates who hit 2500 hours. Associates who hit 3,000 hours get $20K (and their own “special” padded room).

In this market, every little bit helps. Good job by Schulte to at least keep paying their high billers a decent bonus.

Read the full memo after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: Schulte Roth & Zabel Announces Half-Skadden Bonus (But Will Still Pay Additional Money To High Billers)”

Secretary.jpgWith the holidays two weeks away, many are starting to think about the frantic search for gifts for loved ones… and loved support staff. A Consumer Reports survey indicates that 76% of Americans will cut back on gift giving this year. Surprise, surprise. But what does it mean for planning your gift for your secretary and/or paralegal?

Writes one ATL reader:

I’m a NYC 4th year and for three years have given my secretary $100 per year I’ve been at my firm (plus a small — $25 — physical gift as well). If I follow that pattern, I’d give her $400 cash in a few weeks.

My secretary is great and I would like to show my appreciation. But this year, with my job hardly safe and my bonus likely to be at Half-Skadden levels (if I even survive long enough to get a bonus), does the $100 per year rule still apply in NYC?

I think we need a full post on this. It’s not 2007 anymore.

$400 seems high, even for New York. We thought $150-200 was the going rate.

For the uninitiated, it’s customary for associates at large law firms to give a cash gift to their administrative assistants, often along with a card or small gift. Not everyone opts for cold, hard cash– some do AmEx or Visa gift cards. (If you do choose to go with bills, please make sure they are not of the soiled, dog-eared variety.)

One secretary wrote to us this year to voice opposition to the inter-office gift giving (and she’s not the only one):

How should a legal secretary ask her lawyers to not give her gifts? I don’t think Christmas has any place at work, and, though I respect and appreciate my lawyers, I don’t want them giving me gifts. I find it awkward and embarrassing on many different levels. I’ve been at my current job 5 years and tried at first simply not reciprocating. But they never got the message. I’m dreading this year’s ordeal like the plague. They make a little ceremony of calling me into an office as if I were in trouble. Please ask your readers what I might say that would stop the gifts without offending my guys. Thanks!

So, here’s an open thread to discuss your gift-giving plans in the current economic environment. Are you scaling back this year due to a diminished bonus? What’s the scale in your town? Does your paralegal get to sit on Santa’s lap as well? And if your secretary wants no part in the 12 days of Christmas, how should she let you know?

NYLJ top 100 logo.JPGAs we’ve explained before, overall head count numbers can be misleading. In these days of layoffs, acknowledged and stealth, firms could still be cutting associates while putting up big head count numbers.

But it’s always fun to gawk at the huge Manhattan behemoths. Today, the New York Law Journal Magazine released their annual report on on the largest firms in New York:

The NYLJ 100 ranks the 100 largest private law offices as of Sept. 30, irrespective of where a firm is headquartered, whether it claims a home office or in what state or country it originated or has the majority of its lawyers. The exception this year is that in a few cases numbers are as of October, to better reflect late-breaking events.

The top fifteen biggest firms (numbers show attorneys in New York) are not surprising:

1. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom: 910
2. Weil, Gotshal & Manges: 679
3. Dewey & LeBoeuf: 663
4. Simpson Thacher & Bartlett: 657
5. Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison: 644
6. Davis Polk & Wardwell: 607
7. Debevoise & Plimpton: 535
8. Cravath, Swaine & Moore: 529
9. Sullivan & Cromwell: 499
10. Sidley Austin: 469
11. Schulte Roth & Zabel: 459
12. Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton: 450
13. Proskauer Rose: 448
14. White & Case: 443
15. Willkie Farr & Gallagher: 435

You can read the full list here. Behold the magnificence of size.

New York Law Journal Magazine [NYLJ]

Rod Blagojevich illinois law above the law.JPGYesterday, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich made news with “dangerous” threats about halting all state business with Bank of America until the Republic Windows & Doors fiasco is sorted out.

Today, Blagojevich learned the old rule: “Let he who is not under investigation for ‘staggering’ corruption cast the first stone.” The Chicago Tribune (which is still allowed access to ink and paper) reports:

Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his chief of staff, John Harris, were arrested by FBI agents on federal corruption charges Tuesday morning….

“The breadth of corruption laid out in these charges is staggering,” U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said in a statement.

“They allege that Blagojevich put a ‘for sale’ sign on the naming of a United States senator; involved himself personally in pay-to-play schemes with the urgency of a salesman meeting his annual sales target; and corruptly used his office in an effort to trample editorial voices of criticism.”

Apparently, the government has a lot of the evidence against Blagojevich on tape.

An investigation years in the making, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich Taken Into Custody By BOA Feds”

law firm associate bonus watch 2008 biglaw bonuses.jpgEven I have “adjusted” to the fact that the market thinks Half-Skadden set the market with their low associate bonuses. People are afraid for their jobs and firms have an opportunity to use the fear to save a buck. Why compete with elite firms like Skadden when there’s money to be made?

Still, a few people have held out hope the one of the last remaining top firms will stick it to Cravath and all the other followers with a Skadden level bonus. Unfortunately, this morning another top firm fell into the Cravath morass. Paul Weiss associates were informed this morning:

Thank you for your contributions to the Firm and for your important role in helping accomplish the extraordinary results we achieved for our clients this past year. Below is a schedule of 2008 associate bonuses by class.

Class Year: Bonus

2008: $17,500 (pro rated)

2007: $17,500

2006: $20,000

2005: $22,500

2004: $25,000

2003: $27,500

2002: $30,000

2001: $32,500

2000: $32,500

Weil? S&C? Bueller? Frye?

Read the full memo after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: Paul Weiss Gets It Over With”

new hampshire.gif* No trial for you! New Hampshire’s Superior Court is shaving a month of jury trials off of next year’s calendar because of its budget crisis. [New York Times]

* 9/11 masterminds recant their guilty plea because they want the death penalty. [Washington Post]

* Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo is taking the leaders of L.A.’s largest gang to court. The twist? It’s a civil suit, seeking monetary damages on behalf of L.A. neighborhoods for “property damage, loss in property value, emotional distress, personal injury, medical expenses, and out-of-pocket expenses” [Los Angeles Times]

* Ten percent of UVA 2Ls have not found “summer internships” yet. Alumni suggest they head to Nashville or Denver. [Daily Progress]

* Embattled Ninth Circuit Chief Judge Alex Kozinski is getting media attention again, for raunchy, politically-incorrect joke round-ups e-mailed out to friends, colleagues, journalists, lawyers and judges. Sadly, we were not on the Easy Rider Gag List distribution list. The jokes are kinda hilarious. [San Jose Mercury News]

* Five Blackwater guards charged with murder in killings of Iraqis. [Boston Globe]

Heller Ehrman LLP Above the Law blog.JPGIt has been a while since we last checked in with the firm formerly known as Heller Ehrman. While many Heller partners have landed safely at firms like Orrick, Covington & Burling, and Winston & Strawn, some ex-Heller junior associates and staff are still twisting in the wind. The fact that markets everywhere are awash in legal resumes does not help.

Right now, former Heller people continue to fight with the firm and the firm’s banks over money they claim is owed to them. As Thomas MacEntee explains:

We’ve been hearing the same tired line of nonsense from Heller’s Dissolution Committee, Bank of America, and Citibank now since October. The Dissolution Committee passes the buck to the banks continuously and says “they won’t let us” when it comes to paying employees. The banks remain silent and play with not only the monies coming in but the day-to-day survival of ex-Hellerites.

When a bank is refusing to release the money you need for rent, things can get pretty heated. But you’d think that Citigroup at least would be a bit more willing to meet its obligations to regular people, since regular people just bailed them out:

How is it that these banks can be handed billions of dollars and yet be allowed to assist Heller in violating federal and state laws? My thinking is that authorizing the payment of what is due ex-Heller employees would put money back in the economy, allow people to make purchases, etc. Am I the only one seeing this? Or do I look “through a glass, darkly” as the saying goes, and my perception of reality is somewhat imperfect?

More bad news for Heller, and discussion of a “give us our money” email campaign, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Anatomy Of A Dissolution: Heller Ehrman v. Citi and B of A”

albatross of biglaw doom.JPG* Mead and hookers. That’s what I remember from Lincoln’s Inn. [What About Clients?]

* Florida’s professional teams generally play in worse facilities than their college teams. Aside from the fact that I’d take the Gators (-3) over the Dolphins, Marc Edelman reports that new stadium construction is not always a good thing. [Rutgers School of Law-Camden]

* More people are going to law school (and B-School). Less people are going into Ph.D programs. No matter what Biglaw does to an associate, five more will rise to take his place. [TaxProf Blog]

* Sure, even if you have been laid off, you’re still a lawyer: a professional. But … even professionals need to pay “rent.” [Simple Justice]

* Profits per partner everywhere, but the bonuses still stink. Blawg Review tries to shoot down the albatross.

[Infamy or Praise via Blawg Review]

MPRE.jpgIf you were not sure if you correctly handled the daunting thought experiments posed by the MPRE, scores are available today.

Usually not passing the MPRE is a way to be ridiculed by your family and friends, without any lasting professional consequences. The same is probably true this year, but given the market we really hope everybody passed. You don’t want to give a firm any reason to fire you or rescind your offer.

Still, failure on the MPRE is something that can be easily remedied. Just put the pipe down before the test starts, and you should be fine next time.

Congratulations to those who met the minimum ethical standards for our upstanding profession.

Earlier: MPRE Results Are Out: Open Thread

Obama smoking.JPGToday, the Supreme Court declined to take up the case about whether Barack Obama is constitutionally eligible to serve as President of the United States.

With no public discussion or debate, the Court ignored Donofrio v. Wells — and didn’t bother to explain themselves.

Apparently, the Court takes Justice Thomas about as seriously as the rest of us. According to SCOTUSblog:

In a brief order, the Court, as expected, turned aside a New Jersey voter’s plea for the Court to determine if President-elect Barack Obama was qualified to run for the White House — that is whether he was a “natural born citizen.” The stay application came in the case of Donofrio v. Wells, Secretary of State of New Jersey (08A407). This marked the second time in recent weeks for the Court to turn aside such a challenge; the first came on Nov. 3, in Berg v. Obama (08A391). The Court, in neither instance, gave reasons for turning down the applications. In neither case did the Court seek a reponse, thus indicating it had little interest in either or had found them to be completely without merit.

After the jump, was there a cognizable point to all of this?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “SCOTUS Doesn’t Really Care About Obama’s Citizenship Status”

Dreier LLP Marc Dreier Marc S Dreier Mark Dreier Drier Dryer.jpgWe’ll have a more detailed Marc Dreier post up later; there have been a number of developments since our last report. In the meantime, check out this post by Zach Lowe, about the breaking news that Marc Dreier has been indicted in federal court.

Breaking: Dreier Indicted in Federal Court [Am Law Daily]

Marc Dreier 2 Mark Dreier Marc Drier Marc S Dreier LLP.JPGThere are more updates to the saga of Marc Dreier and Dreier LLP over at Am Law Daily. They report that Wilson Sonsini has been retained, by a “substantial group of partners and associates” at Dreier, “to examine the operations and finances of the Dreier firm, including escrow accounts.”

The Am Law post also has a picture of Marc Dreier and Michael Padfield, the lawyer he allegedly attempted to impersonate. The two look nothing alike. Dreier is old ‘n grizzly, while Padfield is fresh-faced and kinda cute (albeit in a Canadian, law-dork sorta way).

Last night we spoke with a Dreier lawyer who gave us an inside peek at the current situation. The outlook is grim.

“There’s no way to save the firm given the amount of missing money,” said our source. “Dissolution is definite. The firm can’t make the next payroll. Most partners are packing up — staying here is not an option.”

We had previously heard reports of Dreier dragging his feet on paying bills, which our source confirmed: “He stiffed a lot of our creditors and vendors. Some have not been paid for a year. He’s way behind on the rent.”

Could other lawyers at Dreier be on the hook for firm liabilities? Our source thinks not. “First, he’s the sole equity partner. Second, it’s an LLP anyway.”

A little bit more, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Hung Out to Dreier: An Interview with a Dreier Lawyer”

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