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Jonathan Lee Riches Jonathan Riches Jon Lee Riches Jon Riches Above the Law blog.jpgWe have to step away for a bit. If any firm makes a bonus announcement while we’re gone, please note it in the comments, and we’ll investigate when we return. Thanks.
* In response to Professor Art Leonard’s question about the Charney settlement — “Will Aaron Charney ever have to work again”? — Professor Scott Moss writes: “Yes, unless Charney wants to experience his ‘early retirement’ in a rural trailer park.” [PrawfsBlawg]
* “A young and uneducated criminal defendant serving 30-to-life in a maximum security prison isn’t likely to be a specialist in appellate practice.” Unless his name is Jonathan Lee Riches. [Volokh Conspiracy]
* “Blogging is hard. Hard. The law is a jealous mistress. So is blogging… We’ve each written books, and law review articles, and supreme court briefs. This is harder. Much, much harder.” (Oh, and Happy Birthday!) [Drug and Device Law]
* Another transatlantic law firm merger: Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge swallows up Kendall Freeman of London. [TheLawyer.com]
* Do you enjoy your job? Take this test. [What About Clients?]
* YLS battle royal? Kate Stith lays the smackdown on Jed Rubenfeld. [New York Times]

Oklahoma musical Rodgers Hammerstein Above the Law blog.jpgWe are waiting not-so-patiently for news of another major New York law firm matching Cravath’s just-announced bonus schedule. C’mon, S&C, Simpson, Davis… What are you people waiting for?
(If one of these firms HAS announced, you haven’t told us about it. For shame! To learn about how to send bonus announcements to ATL, on a confidential basis, please see here.)
Anyhoo, while we wait, let’s imagine what it’s like to be a lawyer in Oklahoma. From the Journal Record:

Oklahoma City attorneys receive starting salaries of about 88 percent of the national average, compared with 92 percent for their Tulsa counterparts, according to an analysis of salary figures in the 2008 Robert Half Legal Salary Guide.

This places projected salaries for first-year associates at Tulsa-area large law firms within a range of $102,810-$126,040, and from $98,340-$120,560 in Oklahoma City.

We’ve never lived in (or visited) Oklahoma City or Tulsa, but we’re guessing these salaries allow for a pretty nice standard of living out there. Oh What a Beautiful Mornin’!
Starting pay for lawyers in state lower than national average [Journal Record]

How I Met Your Mother Above the Law Blog.jpgWe don’t watch the show, although we’ve heard good things. But we’re guessing that those of you who are fans of How I Met Your Mother appreciated the shout-out to fall recruiting in last night’s episode.
Here’s a capsule description, from Wikipedia:

“I’m Not That Guy”

When a corporate law firm courts Marshall, lawyer Jeff Coatsworth wins him over, forcing him to let go of his dream of saving the earth in favor of the almighty dollar. Guest star John Cho.

And a more detailed account, from a reader:

The 3L (I guess) character wanted to work for a nonprofit, but took an interview with a BigLaw. He was wined and dined (on Kobe-beef fed lobster!), then slept at the apartment of the recruiter (played by John Cho), doing the “walk of shame” the next morning.

He wasn’t going to take the job, but then he was “dragged off” to “Tuckahoe Funland” – I’m guessing it’s a Coney Island ripoff – for more playtime, where he’s given the sales pitch again, and told he will represent only the amusement park and protect it from overzealous developers. On the ferris wheel, he finally takes the offer.

Take 22 minutes and go over to CBS.com. It’s probably up on the web for viewing.

How I Met Your Mother [official website]
List of How I Met Your Mother episodes [Wikipedia]

Scott Boras super agent lawyer d bag Above the Law blog.jpgWe don’t know anything about sports. Who just played in the World Series?
Thankfully, some of you are more informed. From a reader:

Scott Boras should be featured on ATL today, perhaps as “lawyer of the day” or whatever. [T]his story is hot, and should start a comment clusterf**k for you.

Baseball players’ agent Scott Boras has balls. Boras sent an email to the Associated Press on Sunday night announcing that his client, Alex Rodriguez, has opted out of the final three years of his contract with the Yankees and will become a free agent.

Rodriguez’s decision, announced by agent Scott Boras during Game 4 of the World Series, makes him eligible to become a free agent.

According to the terms of his $252 Million contract with the Yankees, Alex Rodriguez has ten days to opt out of the final three years and would lose approximately $72 Million of his contract.

According to Sports Illustrated, which broke the story, Boras said he attempted to notify Yankees general manager Brian Cashman of the decision Sunday but couldn’t reach him, so he left a voice mail.

See also this commentary by Murray Chass, in today’s New York Times. Chass doesn’t seem to be a fan of Mr. Boras.
A little more commentary, plus lots of links, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawyer of the Day: Scott Boras”

Supreme Court hallway Above the Law Above the Law Above the Law.JPGPeople, you’ve been holding out on us. We’ve been hearing rumors about more Supreme Court law clerk hiring taking place for the next Term (October Term 2008).
For example, there’s gossip going around that Justice Samuel Alito has hired a clerk from Judge Harris Hartz (10th Cir.). We’ve also heard a rumor to the effect that Justice Thomas’s mysterious fourth spot for OT 2008 has been filled — mysterious, because he’s already hired at least one clerk for OT 2009 (Marah Stith; see here).
But nobody has let us in on what’s been going on. That’s just plain wrong.
A list of the OT 2008 clerks that we know of appears after the jump. Are you aware of an OT 2008 clerk who isn’t on the list? If so, please contact us, by email (subject line: “Supreme Court clerk hiring”).
(You can also post a comment, but we prefer email for this subject, for verification and possible follow-up. Thanks!)
Update: We’ve been told, from a reliable source, that the rumor that Justice Alito has hired a clerk from Judge Hartz is not correct. As far as we know, Justice Alito has hired only two clerks for OT 2008: Dana Irwin (Yale 2002 / Scirica) and Jack White (Pepperdine 2003 / Alito).

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Supreme Court Clerk Hiring Watch: OT 2008 (Update #6)”

  • 30 Oct 2007 at 12:53 PM
  • Uncategorized

Associate Bonus Watch: MWE Says Hold Your Horses

associate bonus watch 2007 law firm Above the Law blog.jpgPrior to the Cravath bonus announcement, McDermott Will & Emery said it would be announcing bonuses later than usual this year. But now that Biglaw bonus season has been kicked off early, will they stick to their previously announced timetable?
For those of you who are interested, the MWE announcement — which was made on October 11, well before the CSM news — appears after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: MWE Says Hold Your Horses”

associate bonus watch 2007 law firm Above the Law blog.jpgAs we first reported, Cravath, Swaine & Moore has kicked off the 2007 bonus season, with yesterday’s announcement of “special” and year-end bonuses for its associates. Here’s coverage from the New York Law Journal and the WSJ Law Blog, who actually got Cravath to talk to them. (CSM declined ATL’s request for comment.) Both sources credit ATL; we thank Anthony Lin and Peter Lattman for the shout-outs.
This leads us to the second stage of bonus season: waiting for the other shoes to drop. We intend to cover bonus developments as closely as we did last year. If a firm is a Vault 100 or AmLaw 100 law firm, or even if its name rings a vague sort of bell, we want to hear about its bonus announcement.
We can’t cover this subject without your help. We need you to let us know, as soon as possible, when your firm makes a bonus announcement. Per ATL standard operating procedure, we will NOT identify you as our source.
Here’s how to reach us with bonus news:

1. As you probably already know, you can send bonus news and memos to us by email (subject line: “Associate Bonus Watch: [firm name]“.

2. To be on the safe side, email us from a non-work email account (but preferably one with your real name, so we can confirm that you actually work where you work, by looking you up on the firm website).

3. To be on the super-safe side, save your email in draft form in your non-work account (e.g., Yahoo, Gmail, Hotmail, etc.). When you’re ready to send, access that account using the web browser in your Blackberry or other wireless device, open the saved draft, and hit “send.” (You could also send the message when you get home, but that would take forever.)

4. Another way to contact us: send us a Facebook message. Even if your firm monitors the websites you visit, being on Facebook won’t get you in trouble (provided you do it in moderation).

5. Yet another way to reach us: by instant messenger or Gmail chat. If you’re a regular ATL tipster, or if you’re our Facebook friend, you know where to reach us on AIM and on Gmail chat.

6. Yet another way to reach us: by phone. Many of you have our phone number, which is also listed in our Facebook profile.

As you know, we prefer to have full memos (although we’ll take just the numbers if that’s all we can get). Please keep your friends at ATL in mind this bonus season, and send us your news ASAP. The project of bringing greater transparency to associate compensation can’t work unless you do your part. Thanks!
Cravath First! Let BigLaw’s Associate Bonus Season Begin [WSJ Law Blog]
Cravath to Give Associates Special Bonus Plus Year-End Bonus [New York Law Journal]
Earlier: Cravath Announces Bonuses — ‘Special’ and Otherwise!!!

Charles Rangel Rep Charles B Rangel Charlie Rangel tax Above the Law blog.jpgNor does he want to raise your taxes, at least if you’re a member of the middle class (which many Biglaw lawyers are, at least if “middle class” is broadly defined). He actually wants to bring the middle class tax relief.
Since you all felt so strongly about it, judging from the hundreds of comments, we thought we’d bring you this quick follow-up to last week’s post about Rep. Charles Rangel’s new tax plan. In our write-up, we highlighted the 4 percent surtax for single earners with incomes over $150,000, or married couples with incomes over $200,000.
But Rep. Rangel argues that the bill is really all about abolishing the alternative minimum tax (AMT). He makes this argument today in the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal (not the natural habitat of a Charlie Rangel byline).
More after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Rep. Charlie Rangel Doesn’t Want To Eat Your Babies”

What the heck is going on? Is someone slipping Prozac into the Swiss Miss?
Why are Biglaw associates so darn happy these days? Is it the robust base salaries and generous bonuses, or is something else at work?
Over at the WSJ Law Blog, Nathan Koppel has this report:

Newsflash: Law-firm associates are happy!

… In one survey mostly of large-firm associates, 45 percent rated themselves “highly satisfied” while another 45 percent were “more or less” satisfied. Only five percent expressed strong dissatisfaction with their firms, according to survey, which is due to be released next week by legal consultancy Hildebrandt International. The survey was sent in June to more than 20,000 lawyers at firms with more than 80 lawyers. Some 464 associates completed the survey, 80% of whom were from “AmLaw 200″ firms….

In August, in its annual associate poll, the American Lawyer magazine reported that associate satisfaction has inched up over recent years to reach a record high of 3.81 on a five point scale, up from 3.64 four years ago.

What could account for this apparent change of heart among staff lawyers who, despite their six-figure starting salaries, traditionally are a notoriously unhappy lot?

Quit Whining Abovethelaw Above the Law legal blog.jpgKoppel floats the thesis that associate retention measures might be helping. He also notes:

There are other, more pragmatic reasons some lawyers may be complaining less. For one, the legal job market beyond big law is suffering. That’s a reason to be happy with a job if you have one.

Interesting. Is the misery of Biglaw in the eye of the beholder? Is “associate dissatisfaction” just a problem ginned up by whiny, self-entitled Ivy League brats? If you go into Biglaw grateful for your six-figure gig, and with realistic expectations for your professional satisfaction, will you end up “happy”?
The Joys of BigLaw? [WSJ Law Blog]

* The war on punitive damages continues. [USA Today via How Appealing]
* Suspect from Burning Man burning to burn something else. [Reno Gazette-Journal]
* Senators want clarification from Mukasey on waterboarding. [Jurist]
* Lerach pleads guilty. [Los Angeles Times]
* Do we have a de facto moratorium on executions pending this term’s SCOTUS lethal injection case? We should find out today. [New York Times]

animated siren gif animated siren gif animated siren gif drudge report.GIFIt’s very early, but it’s true: Cravath, Swaine & Moore announced bonuses today!!! Here are the numbers:
Class of 2007 — Year end bonus $35,000 (prorated), no special bonus
Class of 2006 — Year end $35,000, special $10,000
Class of 2005 — Year end $40,000, special $15,000
Class of 2004 — Year end $45,000, special $20,000
Class of 2003 — Year end $50,000, special $30,000
Class of 2002 — Year end $55,000, special $40,000
Class of 2001 — Year end $60,000, special $50,000
Class of 2000 — Year end $60,000, special $50,000 (same as 2001)
Cravath Swaine Moore LLP Above the Law blog.JPGUpdate (5:05 PM):

1. No official comment from the firm (we called their spokesperson), but this news is solid. It has been confirmed for us by multiple sources at Cravath, by phone and by email.

2. As noted in the comments, the “special” bonuses will be paid in November (on November 9, to be exact). The year-end bonuses will be paid in December.

100 dollar bill Above the Law Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPGUpdate (5:40 PM): If you’d like to compare this bonus table to what Cravath (and pretty much everyone else in New York) paid last year, you can check out the 2006 CSM bonus memo over here. As you can see, the year-end bonuses for this year and last year are basically the same; it’s just that this year, there are “special” bonuses that take total compensation higher.
Also, recall that the base salaries in effect in December 2006 were lower than current base salaries. The Simpson Thacher-led move to $160K didn’t happen until January 2007. So between the higher base salaries and the “special” bonuses, CSM associates this year are significantly better off than last year’s batch.
As for timing, last year’s Cravath bonus memo was issued on December 11, 2006. So this year’s bonus announcement comes quite early in the season. The 2006 bonus season was kicked off by Milbank, which announced on December 8, 2006.
Earlier: Associate Bonus Watch [2006]: A Real Milbank Bonus Announcement
Associate Bonus Watch [2006]: Cravath Announced; Cadwalader Rumored
Breaking: Simpson Thacher Raises Associate Base Salaries!!!
Related: Associate Bonus Watch 2007 archives (scroll down)

Heller Ehrman LLP Above the Law blog.JPGAnother day, another report of problems for Heller Ehrman. As usual, the bad news comes not from ATL, but from an MSM source — so don’t accuse us of making this stuff up. We’re just piggybacking on our friends in the print media.
From the Legal Times:

Like a California Beemer spinning its wheels in Potomac River swampland, San Francisco-based Heller Ehrman just can’t seem to gain traction in Washington.

Last year, the firm’s D.C. head count grew by only one attorney. This year, the office is down eight, from 57 attorneys to 49, a 14 percent decline….

[T]here are also signs of trouble firm-wide. Earlier this month the firm suffered two major losses. Partner Patricia Gillette, who helped anchor Heller’s San Francisco office, jumped to Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe. Gillette, who was a co-chairwoman of the labor and employment practice, brought another partner and four associates with her. Jerry Marks, Heller’s former Los Angeles managing partner, has signed on at Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy. In September, the firm also laid off 65 support staff members.

Though the 700-lawyer Heller is still considered a solid firm, its recent losses and its moribund Washington numbers have some observers wondering what is ailing the California power.

Is the Legal Times making a mountain out of a molehill? Or is Heller’s D.C. office — located just down the street from us, with a gigantic silver sign over the door — really in trouble?
Firm Has D.C. Discontent [Legal Times (subscription)]
Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of Heller Ehrman (scroll down)

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