Latest Stories

We would’ve had this up a few minutes ago, but the technical difficulties that Lat mentioned yesterday are still lurking around. Bring on the new fancy servers.
At any rate, Cleary Gottlieb has matched, and the memo is after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: Cleary Matches”

mwe.gif
McDermott, Will & Emery has come up with a more creative way to deal with soaring associate salaries. The firm has announced that it will be creating a “second tier” of associates to deal solely with low-level tasks like, e.g., document review.
As Cal Law points out, hiring cheaper lawyers to do this type of work is nothing new; this type of stuff is the staple of contract attorneys in most biglaw firms these days. The new part is making these contract attorneys a lower class of associates, essentially making them “permanent contract attorneys”, as Cal Law puts it:

While some firms quietly turn to contract attorneys, or even ship grunt work overseas, McDermott, Will & Emery plans to create a new tier of attorneys — think of them as permanent contract associates — to handle lower-end tasks at lower billing rates.

First-year associates at big firms now earn $160,000. Meanwhile, electronic discovery has dramatically increased the amount of basic work that usually goes to those high-priced associates.
“This is a topic of great importance, since the cost of document review has become intolerable for everyone,” said David Balabanian, the head of Bingham McCutchen’s litigation group.
While hiring contract attorneys is nothing new, creating a second class of full-timers is.

[The Recorder via Cal Law]
Is this a good or bad thing? On the one hand, it increases the competition even more for the “real associate” positions and institutionalizes to an even greater extent the law school tier system into biglaw law firms.
On the other hand, it may be beneficial to those attorneys now doing the contract work. It will establish them as associates in the firm, even if not on the same level as the top tier associates. They will likely receive things like benefits. The top tier associates will likely do more substantive work sooner. And the clients won’t find themselves paying top tier prices for stuff like document review, as still occasionally happens.
So what do you guys think? Will other firms adopt this model? Once again, it makes sense to us.
And hey, L2L, maybe you should apply.
Related:
Firm to Fill Cheap Seats [The Recorder via Cal Law]
McDermott To Create a New Class of BigLaw Attorneys [WSJ Law Blog]

agg.gif
The Atlanta firm Arnall Golden Gregory is refusing to match the recent round of raises to $145,000 for first year associates by Alson & Bird and several other competitor firms. They put a lot of thought into the decision:

AGG matched the February increase on March 1. Ever since, Kitchens said, he and his partners have been pondering their response to the inevitable next round of raises. “Before now, we didn’t feel we needed to study the matter as much as we’ve studied this,” he said.

[Fulton County Daily Report via Law.com]
Ultimately they decided that the best way to deal with the infamous Atlanta compression was to let first and second-years take the hit:

AGG’s new salary plan tries to reward more experienced and productive associates, he said. “What we tried to do was to have a correlation between the economic value of an associate to the firm and the base compensation.”
Kitchens declined to say how much his firm will raise pay for midlevel and senior associates, but said the base salaries are comparable to those set by Alston & Bird in August, with roughly $10,000 increases between classes.
Clients were concerned that additional salary increases for newer associates would increase their legal bills, said Kitchens. “We don’t want to be in a position where we can’t use first- and second-year associates. We don’t want clients to think they’re not getting value.”
“We have to write off a portion of first- and second-year time because they’re learning,” Kitchens said. “We don’t make a profit. It’s a sunk investment, so adding the additional sunk investment of $15,000 didn’t make sense.”
“We’re trying not to have our midyear and higher associates feel they’re underpaid in the marketplace based on their situation and their peer group at other firms. Obviously, with first- and second-years there will be a differential.”

Easy for us to say, since we’re not in biglaw and certainly not one of those first-years taking the hit, but this actually seems like a good explanation for a reasonable course of action to us. What you do guys think?
Arnall Golden Gregory Holds the Line on Associate Pay [Fulton County Daily Report via Law.com]

agg.gif
The Atlanta firm Arnall Golden Gregory is refusing to match the recent round of raises to $145,000 for first year associates by Alson & Bird and several other competitor firms. They put a lot of thought into the decision:

AGG matched the February increase on March 1. Ever since, Kitchens said, he and his partners have been pondering their response to the inevitable next round of raises. “Before now, we didn’t feel we needed to study the matter as much as we’ve studied this,” he said.

[Fulton County Daily Report via Law.com]
Ultimately they decided that the best way to deal with the infamous Atlanta compression was to let first and second-years take the hit:

AGG’s new salary plan tries to reward more experienced and productive associates, he said. “What we tried to do was to have a correlation between the economic value of an associate to the firm and the base compensation.”
Kitchens declined to say how much his firm will raise pay for midlevel and senior associates, but said the base salaries are comparable to those set by Alston & Bird in August, with roughly $10,000 increases between classes.
Clients were concerned that additional salary increases for newer associates would increase their legal bills, said Kitchens. “We don’t want to be in a position where we can’t use first- and second-year associates. We don’t want clients to think they’re not getting value.”
“We have to write off a portion of first- and second-year time because they’re learning,” Kitchens said. “We don’t make a profit. It’s a sunk investment, so adding the additional sunk investment of $15,000 didn’t make sense.”
“We’re trying not to have our midyear and higher associates feel they’re underpaid in the marketplace based on their situation and their peer group at other firms. Obviously, with first- and second-years there will be a differential.”

Easy for us to say, since we’re not in biglaw and certainly not one of those first-years taking the hit, but this actually seems like a good explanation for a reasonable course of action to us. What you do guys think?
Arnall Golden Gregory Holds the Line on Associate Pay [Fulton County Daily Report via Law.com]

halverson.jpg
Hello and good morning everyone. This is Billy Merck once again (yes, yes, “we hate you” and so forth; get it all out on the first post), filling in for Lat today. Don’t worry, we’re still going to be on the lookout for associate bonus announcements, so send them in if they happen and we’ll get them up pronto.
But we don’t know of any new announcements yet this morning, so we’ll start with an update on your favorite Nevada state judge, the immeasurable Elizabeth Halverson.
Yesterday the Nevada Supreme Court upheld an interim suspension of Judge Halverson by the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline. The slip opinion can be accessed here.
Our favorite part is the section dealing with Halverson’s propensity for falling asleep on the bench:

The deputy district attorney in the child molestation case testified that Judge Halverson had fallen asleep on the bench during the trial testimony before the jury. According to this witness, by that time, Judge Halverson had generated a reputation for falling asleep on the bench. Additionally, Judge Halverson’s former bailiff testified that Judge Halverson fell asleep on the bench virtually every day. Although the former JEA’s testimony did not reflect that Judge Halverson consistently slept while on the bench, the former JEA did testify that she had seen Judge Halverson dozing on a few occasions, and that on one occasion, she was called in by the former bailiff and a former court clerk because they could not awaken her.
With respect to this one occasion, the former bailiff and former JEA gave differing accounts as to Judge Halverson’s views on why she had fallen asleep. The former bailiff testified that she claimed that her blood pressure “must be going up” and that she “did not feel well.” The former JEA testified that Judge Halverson blamed the problem on medication “that did not agree with her” and also on the former JEA’s failure to “let her take a long enough nap” in chambers before trial proceedings recommenced. Judge Halverson did not testify at the hearing, but she did submit an affidavit to the Commission, which indicated that she lapsed into slumber on one occasion because of low blood sugar arising from her diabetes and her failure to eat. Although the record demonstrates that the occasion of sleeping described in Judge Halverson’s affidavit did not occur during the criminal trial, as depicted by the deputy district attorney, the record does not specify whether or not this instance of sleeping was the same as that described by Judge Halverson’s former staff.
The only testimony contradicting the testimony about Judge Halverson’s propensity to sleep while on the bench was the statement given by the JEA working for Judge Halverson at the time of the hearing that, in her two months with the judge, she had never seen the judge fall asleep on the bench.
The Commission’s written order noted that one confirmed occasion of falling asleep on its own would not warrant an interim suspension, but that when added to the other conduct, her sleep issues formed part of the basis for its decision. Additionally, the Commission noted that although a physical reason could explain Judge Halverson’s sleep issues, the judge had not offered any proof regarding the possible etiology of this tendency.

Come on, Halverson, don’t let pride make a fool of you. We suspect there are “physical reasons” for most of your difficulties. You should have embraced this as an ADA case, and you probably would’ve been able to stay on the bench.
As it is, you’re just obnoxious and large, and most definitely not in charge.
Prior ATL Halverson coverage
Slip opinion upholding Halverson’s suspension [Nevada Supreme Court (PDF)]

tuna.jpg
* Yeah, but SCOTUS will stay the executions. [AP via How Appealing]
* Tuna : Chicken of the Sea :: ______ : Law of the Sea? [Jurist]
* Drug sentencing still separate, now a litte more equal. [ New York Times]
* Here we go again with the veto and the whole bit. [New York Times]
* Look, he’s a lawyer and everything. I don’t know why you have to ask all these convoluted questions about “torture” and stuff. Just confirm him already, jeez. [Jurist]

associate bonus watch 2007 law firm Above the Law blog.jpgWe’ve had this news for a while, but technical difficulties prevented us from posting on the main page. We did note it in the comments.
Milbank has matched. Memo after the jump.
Due to the aforementioned technical difficulties — we’re switching to new servers later this month, thankfully — we’re signing off for the day. If any more bonus news surfaces while we’re gone, feel free to discuss it in the comments (and also please email us, since we don’t read every last comment). Thanks.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: Milbank Matches”

associate bonus watch 2007 law firm Above the Law blog.jpgKIRKLAND & ELLIS LLP
M E M O R A N D U M
TO: Firmwide Associates
cc: Firmwide Partners
FROM: Associate & NSP Compensation Committee
RE: Year-End Bonuses
______________________________________________________________________
Several New York-based firms recently announced their 2007 bonuses. Please be aware that we intend to continue our practice of paying year-end bonuses in December. As in the past, we expect that those bonuses will be competitive in each of the markets in which we are located, and that they will continue to reflect our historical, meritocratic approach. Thank you for your continued hard work and dedication.

sex toy cornucopia pornucopia Above the Law blog.jpgYou can find the weirdest s**t on Craigslist:

I’m creating a proposal for a downtown performance art show based on US sex laws – the quirkier the better. There are many lists online of these laws, but it’s really hard to find the actual statute or case number. In some cases, they either don’t exist or are changed to sound funny but the actual law is not so strange. Like, if its illegal to bring an animal into a public space, you could say that porcupines are not allowed at the opera but then neither is a dog. So much for your funny porcupine law.

The strength of the show is based on the truth – like the real Texas law where having 7 or more sex toys in your possession is “intent to distribute”. I’m looking to see if some defunct laws ever existed – like the supposed Florida law that banned unmarried women from parachuting on Sundays.

If you even understand what I’m going for and have access to a law library (online or brick&mortar), please contact me.

Cheers,
Gabrielle

Our tipster writes: “I’d take it on myself, but I’m not sure how I’d bill it. I know Loyola 2L is pretty hard up; perhaps he could use the extra bucks. Plus, something tells me Gabrielle’s gotta be hot (Roissy would surely agree).”
Gabrielle: you might want to drop Howard Bashman a line. He is a recognized authority on sex toys (as a legal if not practical matter).
Update: A diligent associate at a bonus-bestowing firm recommends A Guide to America’s Sex Laws, by no less an authority than the eminent Judge Richard Posner.
But this sex law compendium might come with a big red flag over it, in the wake of Lawrence v. Texas. The diligent associate points out: “Note that it’s out of date, coming as it did in the Bowers era.”
RESEARCH – Strange Laws for Performance Piece (Lower East Side) [Craigslist]

associate bonus watch 2007 law firm Above the Law blog.jpgAll the beautiful people over at Davis Polk can still afford their gym memberships and spa treatments. DPW just matched market in terms of bonuses.
Davis is paying the standard year-end bonuses, topping out at $65K, and special bonuses, to be paid on November 26. Bonuses for counsel will be determined individually.
Memo after the jump.
Earlier: Associate Bonus Watch 2007 archives (scroll down)

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: Davis Polk Matches”

Jan Crawford Greenburg 3.jpgOne of our favorite Supreme Court reporters, the fabulous Jan Crawford Greenburg, gave a speech at Harvard Law School today. But she didn’t tarry in Cambridge:

Not sure what is going on, but JCG just finished giving a speech at HLS and said that:

a) She was turning around to go back to Washington immediately (this was not her original plan) and that the folks in DC had actually wanted her to turn around and catch the next shuttle back right away this morning after she landed.

b) We should be sure to watch the news tonight.

Not sure if there is anything to this, but checking Drudge and everything else there don’t seem to be any legal headlines going on. So the whole thing just seemed sort of weird.

Sure, I guess a few hundred bucks is nothing to ABC News, but the whole thing just seemed sort of odd. So I thought I’d throw it your way in case there were any other rumors flying about.

Correction / Update: We’ve been advised that the foregoing information actually came from the remarks introducing Jan Crawford Greenburg, not from the speech of JCG herself, and was mentioned only by way of explaining why the event was being cut somewhat short (with a planned lunch cancelled).
Has anyone heard anything? Nothing over at JCG’s blog, Legalities, hints at the reason for her rapid return to Washington.
Might Jan Crawford Greenburg’s hasty retreat back to DC be related to the embattled nomination of Michael Mukasey as Attorney General? Maybe Mukasey will give her an exclusive interview, in which he will declare waterboarding “not cool”?
Your speculation, informed or otherwise, is welcome in the comments.
P.S. On the subject of Mukasey and waterboarding, see this editorial cartoon.
Mukasey Mulls Waterboarding [The Illustrated Daily Scribble]
Bush Moves to Save Mukasey Nomination [New York Times]
Open Thread — The Nomination of Michael Mukasey [WSJ Law Blog]
Mukasey Confirmation Unlikely as Sen. Kennedy Joins Opposition to President’s AG Nominee [Blogonaut]

short bus shortbus special education Washington DC Above the Law blog.jpgWhile you wait for more bonus announcements to trickle in, check out a benchslap from the nation’s capital. The Washington Examiner reports:

Furious over the city’s “stunning ignorance” of the crisis facing its special-education system, a federal judge has given the District of Columbia one week to come up with a cost-fixing schedule — or face contempt charges.

In an unusually caustic order, U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman has ordered State Superintendent Deborah L. Gist and schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee to come up with a policy for setting rates with the thousands of private schools and vendors with which it does business.

Judge Friedman had especially harsh words for the city’s counsel:

“The defendants’ response demonstrates a stunning ignorance of the history of [the] litigation and the operative orders issued by this court,” the judge wrote. “The only plausible explanation is that the attorneys whose names appear on the signature page … must not have read it. …”

Lighten up, Your Honor. Lots of people sign stuff they didn’t draft, or even read. They’re called partners.
(And reading court filings is overrated. Just ask Chief Judge Jacobs.)
Judge sets deadline for special ed plan [Washington Examiner]
Earlier: Chief Judge Dennis Jacobs: Not Running for Student Body President

Page 1390 of 16621...138613871388138913901391139213931394...1662