Latest Stories

* How many legal blogs can land an interview with Flea? Oh wait — different Flea. [New York Personal Injury Law Blog]
* How is Stoneridge a victory for investors? Our big sibling explains. [DealBreaker]
* How many former law firm partners can claim the distinction of having appeared on the Tyra Banks Show? At least one. [Top of the Ticket / Los Angeles Times]
* How cool is it to be a lawyer? Susan Cartier Liebel opines, over at Blawg Review #142. [Build A Solo Practice via Blawg Review]

Sometimes being named Lawyer of the Day is a matter of being in the right place at the right time. From the AP:

Adam Jones Pacman Jones Above the Law blog.jpgA woman is seeking an arrest warrant against suspended Tennessee Titans cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones [pictured], claiming he punched her at an Atlanta strip club. Fulton County Magistrate Court officials told The Associated Press on Tuesday that Wanda S. Jackson asked for the warrant after a Jan. 3 altercation at the Body Tap Strip Club.

Jackson, an attorney, says in her filing that she was in the club’s office when an angry Jones accused managers of stealing his money and bracelet.

“I was sitting in the office and he lunged at me numerous times in an effort to do grave bodily harm,” Jackson wrote in the warrant application filed Jan. 7. “Veronica Jones, an owner, went into the hall to deal with a member of his entourage. I followed to gawk. He was in the hall, surprisingly reached over or around a security guard and sucker punched me in my left eye.”

As for why a female attorney was at a strip club:

WSB-TV in Atlanta reported that Jackson said she was in the strip club because of a divorce case she is handling.

So what’s the over/under on how long it will take Jackson to file a civil suit against Jones?
Woman: Pacman Punched Her at Strip Club [Atlanta Journal Constitution]
Pacman faces trouble again [AP via SI.com]
Wanda Sherelle Jackson [State Bar of Georgia]

Simpson Thacher Bartlett LLP Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgAlmost one year ago, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett announced a major associate pay raise, unveiling a new pay scale with a starting salary of $160,000. The move sent tremors throughout Biglaw. Firms in New York quickly followed suit; firms in markets outside New York took longer, but eventually matched (for the most part).
But if you’re looking to STB to lead the market higher still, you’ll be disappointed. Yesterday the firm sent around this memo:

SIMPSON THACHER & BARTLETT LLP
MEMORANDUM TO ALL ASSOCIATES AND COUNSEL
Effective as of January 1, 2008, the annual base salary for each class year will be as follows
Class of 2007 – $160,000
Class of 2006 – $170,000
Class of 2005 – $185,000
Class of 2004 – $210,000
Class of 2003 – $230,000
Class of 2002 – $250,000
Class of 2001 – $265,000
Class of 2000 – $280,000
Class of 1999 – $290,000
Salaries for counsel and classes senior to 1999 will be addressed on an individual basis and discussed with those individuals during the Annual Review process. Increases will be reflected in the January 30, 2008 paycheck.
January 14, 2008

Earlier: Breaking: Simpson Thacher Raises Associate Base Salaries!!!

Lynette Scavo Felicity Huffman cancer bald Above the Law blog.jpgHere’s a quick update about yesterday’s Judge of the Day, the Honorable Holly Hollenbeck. From the Tri-City Herald:

A Benton County judge has apologized for telling a woman with cancer to take a knitted cap off her bald head or leave his courtroom. “Words can’t express how sorry I am,” Judge Holly Hollenbeck told the Herald on Monday, a few hours after he spoke with Bev Williams by phone and offered an unconditional apology.

Hey look! It’s an ATL shout-out:

The story was picked up by Seattle news media, then was spread across the country by The Associated Press. The Drudge Report website, published as a digest of headlines across the nation, reported the story Sunday. A website called Abovethelaw.com also invited comments about the incident, and had drawn more than 60 by Monday evening.

“I’m being vilified,” Hollenbeck said. “I made no excuses to her for my behavior. What happened to her was inexcusable.”

And what about the headgear rule?

Hollenbeck, who is presiding judge for the District Court, said each judge retains discretion on how to enforce rules about hats and appropriate attire in court. “The rule has been changed (in my court),” he said.

So if you ever get to wear your hat in Judge Hollenbeck’s courtroom, you have ATL to thank for it (in part).
Judge apologizes for telling woman with cancer to remove hat [Tri-City Herald]
Earlier: Judge of the Day: Holly Hollenbeck

If you’re a victim of the latest round of associate layoffs at large law firms, we’d like to interview you. The subject of layoffs is an important one, and the legal community is keenly interested in it. But getting firsthand information — from lawyers who have been laid off themselves, as opposed to people who just know things “through the grapevine” — can be tough.
Hence this open call for sources. If you’ve been laid off and would be willing to be interviewed about your situation — and please note, you can remain anonymous — we hope that you’ll drop us a line. You’d be doing a service to your peers and contributing valuable information to the public discourse.
If you’d be willing to chat, please email us, and we can set up a time to talk. Thanks.

associate bonus watch 2007 law firm Above the Law blog.jpgAs we mentioned last week, McDermott Will & Emery was planning to hold a meeting with associates today about compensation matters. The meeting is over; here’s a brief report:

The MWE associate compensation committee had a videoconference with all associates this morning, where they ate crow about their bonus structure for 2007. They basically said, “we missed the market, we’re sorry, and we’re fixing it.”

They are meeting on January 23rd to set the rate for supplemental bonuses, which will be announced at the end of this month. Apparently the risk of losing all their top billers and having it smeared all over ATL was more than our delicate leadership could handle.

So no numbers yet; expect them near the end of this month. We’ll keep you posted.

Cadwalader Wickersham Taft CWT Abovethelaw Above the Law legal tabloid blog.JPGToday’s Washington Post contains a very interesting article by Ian Shapira (who seems to love writing about lawyers; see here and here). It’s the latest in a series of stories about well-educated young people in the D.C. area. Today’s piece focuses on college-educated twenty-somethings, living in metro areas, who decide to buck the trend and have kids. Shapira writes:

[Erin] Rexroth, a former congressional aide, and her husband, Philip, 27, who works for the Department of Homeland Security, are defying the norm for their class and age group: They are raising a child. The majority of college graduates in their 20s in metropolitan regions postpone having kids until at least their 30s or never have any, according to recent demographic research.

Like anyone who strays from the generational pack, college-educated parents in their 20s often face questions about friendships, careers and their place in life. Although rearing children invigorates them like a high-profile job, these parents sometimes say they feel like guinea pigs among childless peers. They wonder whether it’s possible to befriend older parents. Some say they feel isolated from friends, those who don’t change diapers or deal with sleep deprivation.

Later in the story, an associate at Cadwalader is quoted about how she decided to have kids early so it wouldn’t disrupt her path to partnership as much:

“By the time I’m at a point in my career where I am going to be making partner, my kids are going to be old enough to be playing on their own and sleeping on their own,” said Erin Foley Lewis, 28, an associate at the law firm Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft who recently had twins. “If I had waited until 33 to have children, I’d have newborns at the time I would be up for partner.”

Cadwalader — they still make partners over there? They better not get into that habit, or their crazy leverage — and sky-high profits per partner — are sure to fall.
On the bright side, at least Ms. Lewis is (1) in litigation and (2) in Washington. So her chances of being laid off are relatively low.
Bringing Up Babies, And Defying the Norm [Washington Post]

100 dollar bill Above the Law Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPGNot too long ago, we reported the move of Williams & Connolly to a pay scale with a starting salary of $180,000. Today we bring you more happy compensation news from W&C.
First, the firm just raised its clerkship bonus from $35,000 to $45,000. This is a welcome development, although not super-exciting; $45K is slightly below the $50K that is the market clerkship bonus, at least for the top firms.
The second piece of news is more interesting. If you have two clerkships under your belt — e.g., a federal district court clerkship and a federal circuit court clerkship — Williams & Connolly may be the place to be (assuming you’re interested in working on sexy, high-profile litigation matters). For people with two clerkships, the firm pays a total clerkship bonus of $90,000.
Most of the firms that pay a $50,000 bonus for one clerkship pay a $70,000 clerkship bonus for two clerkships and/or two years of clerking experience. So $90,000 would appear to be a new high in terms of clerkship bonuses.
Sorry, we don’t know the fine print on this offer (e.g., whether two years of clerking for the same judge will get you the $90K, what clerkships will qualify towards the two-clerkship bonus, etc.). But if you’re in the small class of people who might be affected by this, and if you secure an offer from Williams & Connolly, you may wish to make a polite inquiry into the precise contours of the policy.
Earlier: Nationwide Pay Raise Watch: Williams & Connolly to $180K

Earlier this hour, the Supreme Court handed down its eagerly anticipated ruling in the Stoneridge case. See collected links below, to posts by Lyle Denniston at SCOTUSblog and Ashby Jones at the WSJ Law Blog. The opinion itself is available here (PDF).
Lyle Denniston writes:

supreme court full frontal Above the Law.jpgThe Supreme Court, in one of the most important securities law rulings in years, decided Tuesday that fraud claims are not allowed against third parties that did not directly mislead investors but were business partnes with those who did. The 5-3 ruling came in Stoneridge Investment Partners v. Scientific-Atlanta (06-43).

Investors, the Court said, may only sue those who issued statements or otherwise took direct action that the investors had relied upon in buying or selling stock — whether that involved public statements, omissions of key facts, manipulative trading, or conduct that was itself deceptive. One impact of the decision is likely to be the scuttling of a massive $40 billion lawsuit against financial institutions growing out of the Enron scandal.

This news will be welcomed by many in the business community. But is it bad news for business litigators? Defending dubious securities fraud lawsuits may not be very sexy. But over the years, doing battle with the Milberg Weisses of the world has kept many a large law firm busy — and profitable.
With transactional work drying up, is the Supreme Court’s business-law revolution, cutting down on litigation against corporate America, coming at a bad time for Biglaw as a business?
Court limits securities fraud lawsuits [SCOTUSblog]
Stoneridge is in! Supremes Rein in Investor Suits [WSJ Law Blog]

Elliott Maynard Justice Elliott E. Maynard Don Blankenship Don L Blankenship Above the Law blog.jpg
The men pictured above are not gay lov-ahs. But their relationship may be too close for comfort. On the left: Chief Justice Elliott E. Maynard, of West Virginia, and today’s Judge of the Day. On the right: Don L. Blankenship, chief executive of Massey Energy. The setting: exotic Monaco.
From a piece by Adam Liptak in today’s New York Times:

A justice of the West Virginia Supreme Court and a powerful coal-company executive met in Monte Carlo in the summer of 2006, sharing several meals even as the executive’s companies were appealing a $50 million jury verdict against them to the court.

A little more than a year later, the justice, Elliott E. Maynard, voted with the majority in a 3-to-2 decision in favor of the coal companies.

Insert West Virginia joke here.

Justice Maynard, who is now West Virginia’s chief justice, and Don L. Blankenship, the chief executive of Massey Energy, were “vacationing together,” according to a motion seeking Justice Maynard’s disqualification, which was filed on Monday.

A spokesman for Massey Energy disputed that characterization.

“Both Blankenship and Justice Maynard were separately vacationing in the Monte Carlo area,” said the spokesman, Jeff Gillenwater. “They were not vacationing together. They did meet occasionally for meals — lunches and dinners.”

And maybe on other occasions, too?

The motion included photographs showing the men together. The time stamps on the photographs, apparently taken by someone who had joined the men during their time together, indicated that they met on July 3, 4 and 5, 2006….

Ten of the photographs attached to the motion were filed under seal. They showed, the motion said, “two females apparently traveling with them as companions.” The men are single.

Motion Ties W. Virginia Justice to Coal Executive [New York Times]

* U.S. to deport imprisoned immigrants more quickly. [New York Times]
* Baseball warms up for more congressional hearings; media prepare “curveball” pun headlines. [ESPN]
* LeBron James gets speeding ticket, plans to use “magna carta” defense. [CBS Sportsline]
* Britney Spears is in court and for some reason still famous. [MSNBC]
* Blawgs have some fun with a 7th Cir. footnote. [WSJ Law Blog]

Based on last month’s survey about base salaries and bonus, we’ve told you about bonuses in New
York
, Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles (take the survey on that page to see the results), San Francisco / Silicon Valley, Boston, and even Texas.
And so far, one thing seems clear: New Yorkers have bigger… bonuses.

In today’s ATL / Lateral Link survey, we ask you whether you think that’s ok.
Update: This survey is now closed. Click here for the results.

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