Latest Stories

horror.jpgOn Wednesday, we reported on a D.C. paralegal/legal assistant/assistant seeking advice at We were disappointed in the letter writer’s horror story, and solicited readers for better stories. Here’s the cream of the crop:

How about working 1.5 years with a Federal judge who hasn’t bothered to learn my name?

Short, sweet, and to the point.

A few years ago, I was an associate in a mid-sized firm in a mid-sized Southern city. One day, there was a notice in the break/lunch room about a State Board of Health inspection of the facilities. I was a little surprised, so I mentioned it to another associate. They laughed and said that it was because a partner’s secretary made a complaint to the Board of Health about the partner’s habit of picking his nose and wiping it on documents before handing them to the secretary.

Ewww. Gross.

I worked at a V2 firm. There are sooo many good ones. A sampling….
1) A female attorney nicknamed “Satan’s Spawn” who only made comments in purple pen and refused to use any other tape flag besides purple. She would also chew Grape Trident late nite to stay awake and sometimes wore binder clips in her hair. HOT! Of course she made partner.
2) Once, a Partner threw a chair in the general direction of two paralegals and his partner secretary. The chair broke. The Partner was still popular with them because he’d take them out drinking.
3) Not to be outdone, I also heard (right after it happened, from the source) of a Partner who had told his secretary to hold all calls. Well, an important C-level client called and said he must speak with Partner X. The secretary demurred, but the caller was insistent. So, cute, kind secretary knocked, popped her head in and said, “Partner X, I know you said to hold all calls, but Important C-level client really needs to…” Partner X whirled around from his desk to face her and flung his pen toward her head, just like a dart. Luckily, not having played darts for a while since he was a V2 partner and all, the pen whizzed right by her ear and LODGED IN THE WALL.

This commenter had a total of eight stories. We took the top three. See the rest here.

8: approx. number of associates I know of, self included, who have had some version of the “talking with a partner about case and he walks into the bathroom and keeps talking to me, sits down in the stall and continues talking about the case” scenario.

The level of horror of this story varies, depending on how long one has to stay in the bathroom and how stinky it is.
Thanks for your horrific contributions. We hope we don’t have nightmares tonight.
Earlier: ATL Seeks REAL Horror Stories

Job of the Week

Los Angeles palm trees Above the Law blog.jpgThe latest Job of the Week, brought to you by Lateral Link, is a unique opportunity for a senior attorney looking to become General Counsel of one of the most prominent public institutions in the country. This position is one of Lateral Link’s exclusive positions. You can get more information over at Lateral Link.
Position: General Counsel
Location: Los Angeles
Description: This public institution is currently seeking an individual with an exceptional background to lead the Office of General Counsel. The Office of General Counsel is a high-performance legal department with the highest professional standards and integrity, providing first-class legal service to the staff supporting the institution. The Office of General Counsel strives to be the preeminent legal department, driven by innovation and integrity to support high-quality instruction and public education. The individual will lead an organization committed to protecting the legal interests of the institution.
The Office of General Counsel has just under 100 staff members, including over 30 attorneys, and supervises numerous outside firms on District matters. As General Counsel, the candidate will advise the Board and senior staff on key issues affecting major policy decisions. The General Counsel will work closely with and will serve as a resource to other divisions.
Skills: The ideal candidate will have a proven track record of leading and managing a complex legal office and a demonstrated ability to motivate a diverse and talented team of professionals. The candidate must be able to work efficiently with legal and non-legal staff, clients and the community, and must have a record of advising senior management in their decision making process. Significant experience with government entities is a plus.
Requirements include: At least ten years of experience as a practicing member of the bar. California Bar membership. Experience in education law is desirable, but not required.
Job Code: 8480
For more information, please visit Lateral Link.
Earlier: Prior Job of the Week listings (scroll down)

Dewey LeBoeuf LLP logo D&L DL Above the Law blog.jpgThe rumors that we alluded to earlier are true: Dewey & LeBoeuf is shuttering three offices. Here is the firm’s official statement on the office closings:

As part of its global strategy to expand the firm’s resources in major capital markets throughout the world, Dewey & LeBoeuf will be closing its offices in Jacksonville, FL, Austin, TX and Hartford, CT.

All attorneys in these locations have been asked to remain with Dewey & LeBoeuf and relocate to one of the firm’s other offices. They will have the opportunity to integrate their practices within the firm’s network of over 1,400 lawyers in 13 countries. The decision is designed to continue the successful integration of Dewey & LeBoeuf, which saw its profits per partner increase to $1.57 million in 2007 following the October 1, 2007 merger.

The Jacksonville office, which has 10 lawyers, will close in December 2008. The Hartford office, which has 22 lawyers, will close in February 2009. The firm will continue to maintain a small presence in Hartford. The Austin office, which has 16 lawyers, will close in March 2009.

So that’s the official word. See also this story from the Austin Business Journal.
The allusion to D&L’s “global strategy to expand the firm’s resources in major capital markets” is consistent with this rumor we heard: “Word on the street is that a consultant told Dewey to close Hartford because small market offices will preclude them from ever really competing with Skadden et al.”
Given the firm’s size, the number of lawyers affected by the closings isn’t huge: fewer than 50, out of over 1,400. But some folks are still unhappy campers.
Some gossip, and a little kvetching, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Dewey Stay or Dewey Go? D&L Decamps from Hartford, Austin, Jacksonville”

The #1-seed, Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, hath fallen, along with all of the other top-seeded law firms, in an Elite Eight that was good for “underdog” lovers. Heading into the Final Four are Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton (#7), Davis Polk & Wardwell (#5), Latham & Watkins (#8), and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett (#6).
It’s anybody’s game. Here are the updated brackets:
Final Four copy.jpg
Time to vote down to the two “coolest” firms, defining “cool” however you please. Polls and information on the Elite Eight voting are available after the jump. Polls close Sunday at midnight!

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “ATL March April Madness for Law Firms, Round 3: Upsets Galore Heading Into the Final Four”

Thacher Proffitt Wood LLP Above the Law blog.jpgThat’s what many of you have been wondering, in emails to us and in comments. We’ve investigated the situation at Thacher Proffitt & Wood, and we now bring you this detailed report.
We’ll start off with the big rumors:
1. Thacher Proffitt laid off additional associates earlier this week.
The firm’s response: “As always, we continue to talk to associates in the areas most affected by the market conditions.”
Sounds a tad Orwellian, and suggests that some additional reductions in the associate ranks did in fact take place (since it’s not an outright denial). But we don’t have any details, in terms of numbers of lawyers affected, departments, severance, etc. If you do, we’d love to hear from you.
2. TPW is delaying the start date for the incoming first year class until late October (which may need to be extended until January).
Partly true, partly not. From the firm: “The start date for incoming litigation associates remains the same. The start date for others has been moved to October 20th.”
3. The White Plains office is being closed.
The firm denies this outright: “The rumor related to our White Plains office is not true.”
Update (10/27/08): The White Plains office is now closed.
More detailed discussion about the situation at Thacher Proffitt — which sounds rather grave, according to the former, current, and future TPW lawyers we heard from — after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “What’s Going On at Thacher Proffitt & Wood?”

Jay Spechler Judge Jay Spechler Jay Sprechler Above the Law blog.jpgThe fabulous Monica Goodling — if you’re on Facebook, join her fan club — isn’t the only person being accused of anti-lesbian bias these days. From the Daily Business Review (via JAABlog):

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Judge of the Day: Jay Spechler”

Marlboro Light Cigarettes small Judge Jack Weinstein Above the Law Blog.jpg* You’ve come a long way, baby — but you’re not getting past the Second Circuit. Appeals court tosses $800 billion class-action lawsuit over light cigarettes. [New York Times]
* The economy is in the toilet. Does that still count as news? [AP]
* West Virginia Supreme Court, after shedding some members via recusals, rules in favor of Massey Energy once again. [Charleston Gazette via WSJ Law Blog]
* En banc Ninth Circuit rules against, ruling that Section 230 immunity doesn’t protect the site from being sued for violating fair housing laws. [How Appealing (linkwrap)]
* Speaking of bad news for bloggers, kinda sucks to be one in China. They’re not real big on free speech out there. [WSJ Law Blog]

Dewey LeBoeuf LLP logo D&L DL Above the Law blog.jpgThe firm of Dewey & LeBoeuf — which, by the way, had a great 2007, with total firm revenue over $1 billion, and profits per partner of $1.57 million — just announced its new bonus policy. You can check out the full memo after the jump.
The new policy reconciles differences between the pre-merger firms. “Legacy Dewey” essentially gave billable-hours credit for all pro bono hours and firm-related activities (dubbed “Accountable Hours,” and including work on client alerts, business development, article research, summer associate recruiting events, etc.). “Legacy LeBoeuf” had a policy that was somewhat less generous, with limits on how much pro bono and firm-related work could be counted towards the hours cutoffs for bonuses.
One source views the new policy as a fair compromise (especially in light of a rumor that the firm was considering giving no credit for pro bono and firm activities). Also, since the firm is a bit slow right now, “if accountable hours didn’t count, we’d all be screwed for bonus.”
Speaking of D&L, we’re going to be writing about their closing of a few offices. If you have any info on that front, please feel free to email us.
Bonus policy memo, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Dewey & LeBoeuf’s Post-Merger Bonus Policy”

campbell.jpg*Naomi Campbell in trouble with the law… again. Campbell being arrested is barely novel news, but it gives us an excuse to post her photo. [Breitbart via Drudge]
*Attorneys general react to financial crisis, telling failing businesses to be sure to shred personal documents on the way out. []
*The president of the California State Bar wants to do away with billable hours. [California Bar Journal]
*Chicago recently got love from Ropes & Gray; now it’s getting some love from Proskauer Rose. [Chicago Tribune]
*This German law professor is heading to prison, but if he gets to keep his newly-renovated Hamburg mansion, maybe he doesn’t mind. [TaxProf Blog]
*We question the legality of this new version of street justice in New York. “You must first plead your case, by submitting a plea on Punch’s web site for why the prospective punchee deserves violence.” [Thrillist]

Mr_Easter_Bunny.jpgSome of you have wondered about the delay in choosing finalists for the ATL Caption Contest. We did not forget about it; we just wanted to save a little Easter for April, the proper month for the holiday. Easter in March is just plain wrong.
As a refresher, this is the photo of President Bush and his White House Counsel — Fred Fielding, former senior partner at Wiley Rein (fka Wiley Rein & Fielding), dressed up as the Easter Bunny — at the White House Easter Egg Roll last month. Without further ado, out of 200 comments, these are our ten finalists. [FN1]
A. “I left a firm with over $4 million in PPP to do THIS???” -Anonymous
B. The Mad Hatter and the March Hare discuss the legality of waterboarding the Dormouse. -Klerk
C. “Mr. President, I wanted to let you know that I put the last of those White House e-mails down the rabbit hole.” -Anonymous
D. Yeah, well, nobody wants to be the guy that told the POTUS there is no Easter Bunny and Cheney said that if I play along I’ll get a Supreme Court nomination. Hey, whatever happened with that Harriet woman? -Anonymous
E. I dressed up in this bunny suit and all I got was a feature on ATL. -Anonymous
F. After ignoring the rule of law for seven years, President Bush finally found a use for the White House Counsel. -Anonymous
G. “Someone please tell me that’s not a wombat behind me.” -Anonymous
H. I guess that answers the question of whether its better to get a JD or an MBA. -Anonymous
I. Fred (thinking): “That f-n headhunter promised me I would be supporting the President on matters of national importance. G-d D-MN it!” -Anonymous
J. George: Why do you wear that stupid bunny suit?
Bunny: Why do you wear that stupid man suit? -133t
We invite you to vote for the winner after the jump. Poll closes at midnight tomorrow.
[FN1] There were many funny comments, but we exercised a bias in favor of those with a legal connection.
Earlier: ATL Caption Contest: Mr. Easter Bunny, White House Counsel Fred Fielding
The rabbit behind the man: White House counsel Fred Fielding [Washington Post]

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “ATL Caption Contest Finalists: Mr. Easter Bunny and POTUS”

Sonnenschein Nath Rosenthal Above the Law blog.jpgOver at Greedy South, various rumors are circulating about Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal. One poster claimed that the firm rescinded offers of summer employment to several incoming summer associates in the Charlotte office. Later on in the thread, others chimed in to claim that the firm is rescinding offers to full-time associates who were set to arrive in the fall (possibly beyond Charlotte as well).
An ATL tipster wrote us:

I know things are really, really, slow at most firms in Charlotte (as has been noted by the firings at Cadwalader and Dechert), but is there any way that you could find out whether this is actually true? It seems like the elephant in the room is everyone’s hope that securitization will magically pick up again, but everyone seems to forget that it’s difficult for a market segment to “rebound” that wasn’t even in existence 10 years ago.

Is this a sign of Sonnenschein closing its Charlotte office (after only 1 year)? Have you heard anything about other offices having the same types of problems? Just trying to find out what’s going on.

We reached out to the firm for comment earlier this week but they never got back to us. If you have any info to share, please email us. Thanks.
Sonnenschein Firings? [Greedy South / Infirmation]

Over the past few months, we’ve devoted several of our ATL / Lateral Link survey posts to compensation issues like base salaries, bonus amounts, and clerkship bonuses. But we’ve received quite a few requests to do another survey or open thread on another compensation issue: starting bonuses and stipends.
Associates at four New York firms (anonymized) have recently e-mailed the same general question:

Next year top law firms in New York, as well as those around the country (Chicago, Los Angeles, etc.), will pay their incoming associates $160,000 plus a $10,000 STARTING BONUS. [My v5 firm], on the other hand, will pay incoming associates $160,000 with a $10,000 SALARY ADVANCE. Simply put, I will be going on a bar trip this summer with money I loaned myself from my first year salary! I find this very strange considering that [my firm] considers itself to be the cream of the crop in New York in terms of pay.

i’m wondering if you can post a thread on firms giving incoming associates stipends for the summer. i’m at a v5 nyc firm and just learned that they don’t offer a summer stipend but do allow an advance (up to 12k, i believe). some friends i know at peer firms mentioned that they’ll be receiving stipends (10k from what i hear) as opposed to advances. any assistance in shedding some light on this would be greatly appreciated. thanks.

I read your blog and I have a suggestion for a thread – the types of loan/stipend firms give to cover studying for the bar. I’ve heard that some firms give out-right cash bonuses, whereas others (including my Vault Top 5 firm) give a no-interest loan that you must then repay over your first year. Since these amounts are usually around $10,000, it can make a not insignificant difference in first year compensation.

Thought you might want to run a story on advances/stipends offered by law firms for incoming associates. I’m an incoming associate at [big prestigious firm], and was frustrated when I heard that most other top law firms pay a stipend of $10,000 to their associates for the summer of the bar, while [big prestigious firm] is offering only a “$3,000 signing bonus” and a 7k loan, which will be deducted from our first 6 months of salary.
I know several other incoming associates who are surprised to see [big prestigious firm] below market, but are afraid to communicate this to the firm.

About a year ago, when ATL previously posted an open thread on the subject, commenters suggested that firms in New York were more likely than non-NY firms to pay stub bonuses (first year bonuses pro-rated for the number of months worked), which made up for the lack of a signing bonus. But is that true today?
Today’s ATL / Lateral Link survey will probe your firm’s policy on signing bonuses and salary advances. Feel free to speak up in the comments, too. Or send us information by email. If we get enough responses, we’ll put together a table like the clerkship, maternity, and paternity leave tables (each of which will be updated this weekend, by the way, so feel free to send tips about those as well).
Update: This survey is now closed. Click here for the results.

Justin Bernold is a Director at Lateral Link, the sponsor of this survey.

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