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clock.gifOver the break, a reader sent us this article, accompanied by a quip: “Looks like BigLaw is funding some new research.”
Our first reaction: A brain chemical you snort to replace sleep? It’s called “cocaine.”
But today we have a second reaction: Would such research, if funded by Biglaw, be a waste of time? Law firm associates — and partners — sacrifice sleep to rack up billable hours. But is the billable hour on the way out?
Over at Slate, in a piece entitled “How to Kill the Billable Hour,” Lisa Lerer writes:

[C]riticisms [of the billable hour] lobbed by academics, associates, and bloggers have had a negligible impact. Making such a significant change takes a more powerful force in law firm life: the client. And now, finally, the companies that pay millions in hourly rates are striking back, forcing their law firms to cut some tough, nonhourly fee deals. If anyone can tame the billable beast, it’s the clients who feed it….

Cisco, Pitney Bowes, Caterpillar, and several other large corporations have begun to force their law firms into alternative billing arrangements. The companies push flat fees and volume-based discounts, and ban young associates from working on their business, hoping to avoid paying through the nose for work that could be done more cheaply by paralegals or temp lawyers. They say that by eradicating or at least limiting hourly rates, they avoid cost creep, cut their bills, and better predict their expenses.

Writes an ATL reader who works at a prominent New York law firm: “Great. Now it won’t matter that I bill 2500 hours a year.”
A little more, on the other side of the rainbow.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Whither the Billable Hour?”

Loyola 2L blog blogger comment commenter Above the Law blog.jpgThis announcement, apparently from celebrity commenter Loyola 2L, was posted earlier at the WSJ Law Blog (which recently named him their Lawyer of the Year). But in case you missed it, check it out:

—–Original Message—–
From: [Deleted]
Sent: Tuesday, January 01, 2008 12:26 AM
To: Above the Law; WSJ Law Blog
Subject: Retirement email from the poster Loyola 2L

Dear WSJ Law Blog and Above the Law,

I hope the new year treats you well. This is the blogger known as “Loyola 2L.” First off, I hope you can see why I combined you into one recipient. I know it’s rude to combine recipients, but both of your blogs have been a central part of my life for the past year and I couldn’t write one without the other.

No offense taken — we’re honored to be in such distinguished company.
Read the rest of his message, below the fold. (An ATL New Year’s resolution: Use more synonyms for “after the jump.”)

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Loyola 2L Hangs Up His Keyboard?”

New Year fireworks in London Happy New Year Above the Law blog.jpgHappy New Year, dear readers of ATL! We hope that you had an enjoyable and restful holiday season; we know we did.
Now we’re back, after a pleasant holiday hiatus. Did you miss us?
We’re looking forward to another fun year of dishing legal gossip, as well as chronicling associate pay raises and partner profits (God willing). We’re still in the process of catching up on email and legal news, so please bear with us. If you have a juicy tip to share, please do email us.
Here are some of our ATL-related New Year’s resolutions:

1. Wake up earlier. (When you work from home, it’s easy to oversleep.)

2. Respond more promptly to emails that require a response.

3. Stop feeling guilty about not being able to respond to every last email (because, given the volume of email we receive around here, it’s not possible to respond individually to each and every message — for which we apologize).

We’ve shown you ours; now you show us yours. Have you made your New Year’s resolutions yet? If so, feel free to share them in the comments. If not, check out the interesting links below, from some of our favorite non-legal blogs, which offer guidance and reflections about the resolution-making process.
Once again, we wish you fun and prosperity in 2008!
Economics and New Year’s Resolutions [Freakonomics / NYT]
Will Your Resolutions Last Until February? [Well / NYT]
It’s January 2008. Make a happiness-project resolution now! [The Happiness Project]
Start a Happiness Project for 2008! [The Happiness Project]
Earlier: Happy Holidays from ATL!

Legal%20Eagle%20Wedding%20Watch%20NYT%20wedding%20announcements%20Above%20the%20Law.jpgThe Legal Eagle Wedding Watch is kicking off 2008 with a few leftovers from 2007. But we think you’ll agree that these offerings are worth savoring. These couples have got a little bit of everything: brains, looks, athletic ability, and (something that never goes stale) lots and lots of money.
Here are the contenders:

1.) Ellen Zajac and Teddy Schwarzman
2.) Stephanie Alperin and Eric Biderman
3.) Erica Greenbaum and Mark Gerson
4.) Katherine Van Loon and Jon Steitz

More about these couples, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Legal Eagle Wedding Watch 11.11 – 11.25: Jamaican Me Wealthy”

* Dahlia Lithwick lists the Bush Administration’s 10 dumbest legal arguments of 2007. Number 3 is “Alberto Gonzales.” [Slate]
* Law student/beauty queen charged with kidnapping and torturing ex-boyfriend. [Fox News]
* Murdered Bronco cornerback’s family and teammates await arrests. [MSNBC]
* Banished words list once cited by AZ Supreme Court justice includes “surge,” “organic,” and “it is what it is.” [CNN]
* Rodriguez surprised by WVU lawsuit after bolting for Michigan before contract expiration. [ESPN]

To read ATL posts from December 2007, please click here. Thanks.

Benazir Bhutto Pakistan Above the Law blog.jpg* Rest in peace, Benazir Bhutto; God knows you weren’t able to live in it. [CNN]
* That seems like a pretty good starting point for liability against the zoo. [BBC]
* We don’t know if you know Tom Goldstein, but he’s a pretty big deal. [SCOTUSBlog]
* If he could only apply all of that genius to acquiring some money to actually make a mortgage payment… [WSJ Law Blog]

Superdome Louisiana Superdome New Orleans Hurricane Katrina Above the Law blog.jpg* NRA defends the rights of hurricane victims to shoot at the National Guard keep guns. [AP via How Appealing]
* French “aid” workers sentenced to eight years of hard labor in Chad “orphan” case. [Jurist]
* Apparently if you’re a rapper you can show up at court when you damn well please. [Athens Banner-Herald]
* If you feel guilty about it, at least you can take comfort in the fact that you’ve helped set up an appeal. [CNN]

* Would a holiday search be unreasonable? [Findlaw via How Appealing]
* Is the DOJ passing up a chance to crack down on plaintiff’s lawyers? [WSJ Law Blog]
* Nothing but a G string. [CNN]
* Toby Keith puts his boot in the defendant’s ass in the form of a $2.8 million verdict for his family in a suit over the wrongful death of his father. [AP via Asbury Park Press]

We hope that you’re having a wonderful holiday season and are getting some well-deserved rest — as are we.
As was the case last year, we’ll be on a reduced publication schedule between now and the new year. We’ll return to a normal schedule on Wednesday, January 2, 2008.
To those of you who celebrate it, Merry Christmas! And a happy new year to all.
Rockefeller Center Christmas tree small.jpg

* Top legal stories of 2007. [CNN]
* Stop complaining, civil libertarians. Things could be much worse. [New York Times]
* A leadership vacuum at the Department of Justice. [Washington Post via How Appealing]
* And don’t look to recess appointments to address the problem. [Washington Post]
* A different kind of “pole tax,” which will divert five dollar bills from g-strings to g-coffers. But does it violate the First Amendment? [AP; TaxProf Blog]
* Union members: You’ve Got Mail. Oh wait, you don’t — at least not of the union-related kind. [New York Times]
* Adam Liptak asks whether a “Judicial Hellhole” is in the eye of the beholder. Also, a quote from Dickie Scruggs that maybe he wishes he could take back. [New York Times via WSJ Law Blog]

associate bonus watch 2007 law firm Above the Law blog.jpgLet’s send you into the holiday weekend with some associate bonus news. Here are some law firm bonus announcements that haven’t been previously covered in these pages.
(Firms that previously announced their bonuses, but are being sneaky about the exact amounts and/or the percentage of associates getting them, will be addressed separately. This post is for completely new announcements.)
Some of this news is incomplete. If you can provide more details, please email us. Thanks.
1. Akin Gump (New York): Year-end bonuses, and special bonuses to “those associates and counsel who have performed in accordance with the Firm’s expectations regarding productivity, quality of work and Firm citizenship.” Plus “discretionary merit bonuses” to associates and counsel “who performed in a truly exceptional manner.”
One source at the firm characterizes it as follows:

Full match in NY, with extra bonuses in certain cases (generally to billers over 2400). There has never been an hours requirement, so if past practice is any indicator, anyone not being fired will get it.

Full memo, after the jump.
2. Akin Gump (outside New York): Each associate is allowed to make the case to the firm for a big bonus. A source tells us that this practice of asking associates to write up memos to justify their bonuses started a few years ago. “I wonder how this plays into the current bonus climate, or if anyone else has to do this.”
3. Hogan & Hartson (outside New York): The 2007 bonus memo appears after the jump.
4. Hogan & Hartson (New York): We’ve confirmed the fact that Hogan announced bonuses in New York. It was described to us as a market match. But we haven’t seen a memo or the fine print of the announcement, so we can’t confirm that.
Update: The bonus memo for Hogan & Hartson’s New York office appears after the jump.
5. Vinson & Elkins (New York): “V&E matched the New York market bonus (including this year’s special bonus) for its New York associates, to be paid on January 15, 2008. No memo yet, a voicemail.”
6. Sheppard Mullin: Details after the jump.

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