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  • 06 Mar 2008 at 12:10 PM
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An Update on Clifford Chance

Clifford Chance LLP Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgTwo quick items about Clifford Chance, concerning two favorite topics here at ATL: layoff rumors and bonuses. A tipster at the firm told us:

CC/NY has laid off more structured finance associates in the wake of the six associates laid off last October. At least two more structured finance associates have been laid off in February — one straight layoff and one “pushed out,” i.e., strong-armed to leave — and there are rumors of more to come in other areas as well (such as M&A)….

The morale is low and associates [fear] that the CC/NY of the 2002 Memo vintage has come back. How can a firm which pretends to be one of the New York elite firms resort to layoffs as soon as market has slowed down? This is fantasy.

We contacted the firm, and spoke on the phone with a spokesperson:

“There have not been any layoffs since the six associates affected last October, not in structured finance nor any other practice. There aren’t any plans [for layoffs] in any practice area.”

“I’m not saying that we don’t continually monitor our business and work allocation. But we haven’t had layoffs in terms in terms of people being asked to leave for economic reasons. The layoffs in October were in direct response to market conditions in a very specialized product area, rather than a trend.”

We’re inclined to credit the firm on this. A firm that openly acknowledges layoffs, as Clifford Chance did, has more credibility when it denies layoffs than a firm that sheds a suspiciously high number of lawyers, but claims that everything is “business as usual.”
But we do have a correction to our prior report that Clifford Chance paid market bonuses, on an across-the-board / lockstep basis. Read more, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “An Update on Clifford Chance”

luxury car logos Above the Law blog.jpgSome lawyers are really into cars. One prominent practitioner here in Washington collects Ferraris — but Tefft Smith is a fairly senior partner at Kirkland & Ellis, and you probably aren’t.
So what you should do in the car department? From the ATL mailbag:

I’m a 3L with an offer to BigLaw in California. I’m planning on purchasing a car, but I’m wondering what is appropriate for a junior associate. I didn’t think it was a big deal, but a friend of mine said that he saw some partners treat associates differently if their cars were nicer then theirs. He also said, clients aren’t too happy seeing young associates driving around in Mercedes and BMW’s. Is there any truth to this?

I don’t want to buy a Honda Civic or something; I want people to take me seriously. But I also don’t want to be too flashy. I was thinking either an Acura TSX or a Lexus IS 300.

FYI — I’ll be working in Northern California, so I don’t need to have a super flashy car to pick up the L.A. girls.

We can understand partners not liking it when associates have absurdly nice autos. But on the flip side, we once heard about an associate at a white-collar criminal defense boutique whose boss ordered him to upgrade his vehicle — a Civic, coincidentally enough — because it would be bad for clients to see him in a Honda. The partner helpfully provided the associate with a list of acceptable luxury car makes (and the associate ended up getting a Volvo, one of the more reasonably priced options).
So, ATL readers, whaddya think? We look forward to your feedback, in the comments.
Born to Run: Tefft Smith and His Ferrari Fever [Legal Times]

Jenner Block LLP logo Abovethelaw Above the Law legal tabloid.JPGHere’s your daily dose of schadenfreude. Associates aren’t the only ones suffering in the economic downturn; partners are getting axed too. From the Chicago Tribune:

Jenner & Block, a top Chicago law firm best known for its trial attorneys, has downsized its partnership for the second time in two years.

At least 10 partners have been told in recent weeks they will have to give up their equity in the firm, with some being asked to leave, according to people familiar with the discussions….

“We periodically review how each of our partners and associates are doing and act on those reviews,” [firm chairman Anton] Valukas said. “It’s nothing different this year than we’ve done in other years.”

Guys at his high school got de-equitized all the time. It was no big deal.
Jenner & Block law firm cuts several partners [Chicago Tribune]

Tony Cox Dwarf Toss Above the Law blog.jpg* Skadden lawyers, take care. Police are investigating an explosion at the military recruiting station in Times Square. [AP]
* Loose lips leaks ship’s info, gets convicted. [IHT via WSJ Law Blog]
* Speaking of leaking, a Swiss bank has dropped its suit against Wikileaks. [San Francisco Chronicle via How Appealing]
* More FBI privacy screw-ups. [AP]
* Fidelity settles with SEC for $8 million in improper-gifts case. Among the gifts improperly received by Fidelity employees: a dwarf-tossing competition. [New York Times]
* An update on the troubles of Dickie Scruggs — who, by the way, hasn’t had such a great career in the post-tobacco period. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Law firm merger mania: McGuireWoods “merges” with Helms Mulliss & Wicker (although query whether it’s more of an acquisition — McGuireWoods has 750 lawyers to Helms Mulliss’s 145, and the new entity will keep the McGuireWoods name). [Charlotte Observer]
* Three days of jailhouse rockin’ for Elvis impersonator who shows up to court “apparently drunk, and sporting sunglasses and a rhinestone-studded shirt with a scarf draped around his neck.” Not clear whether he was held in contempt for the inebriation or the fashion missteps. [AP]

US News World Report law school rankings ratings Above the Law blog.jpgCourtesy of Professor Dan Solove, “a sneak peak at this year’s rankings, as well as some amazing secrets about how US News ranks law schools.”
The Official Leaked US News Law School Rankings, Plus Ranking Secrets Revealed! [Concurring Opinions]

US News World Report law school rankings ratings Above the Law blog.jpgCourtesy of Professor Dan Solove, “a sneak peak at this year’s rankings, as well as some amazing secrets about how US News ranks law schools.”
The Official Leaked US News Law School Rankings, Plus Ranking Secrets Revealed! [Concurring Opinions]

not so fresh feeling Massengill douche douchebag Above the Law blog.jpgHere’s an interesting factoid. According to a quick search we ran over at the Public Library of Law (powered by Fastcase), the word “douchebag” has yet to appear in the pages of F.3d. [FN1]
That may be about to change, if the Second Circuit decides to publish in a case that was just argued. From the AP:

A teen who used vulgar slang in an Internet blog to complain about school administrators shouldn’t have been punished by the school, her lawyer told a federal appeals court…. [Ed. note: an "Internet blog" -- not to be confused with all those Non-Internet blogs.]

Avery Doninger, 17, claims officials at Lewis S. Mills High School violated her free speech rights when they barred her from serving on the student council because of what she wrote from her home computer.

In her Internet journal, Doninger said officials were canceling the school’s annual Jamfest, which is similar to a battle of the bands contest. The event, which she helped coordinate, was rescheduled.

According to the lawsuit, she wrote: “‘Jamfest’ is canceled due to douchebags in central office,” and also referred to an administrator who was “pissed off.”

In the district court proceedings, there was some extensive discussion of the whole d-bag remark:

When [the school board's lawyer] pressed [student council treasurer Pat] Abate on whether he had ever seen the famous douchebag posting, Abate’s responses included: “I haven’t seen it on my computer monitor, I haven’t seen it in my dreams.”

Guess he isn’t very imaginative.

[A lawyer] asked Abate and [senior class vice president Jackie] Evans to define douchebag.

“Stupid, moron, idiot, Abate said.

“Jerks,” Evans said.

Hmm…. They’re in the vicinity, but haven’t hit the definitional g-spot. We respectfully submit that the term “douchebag” carries a stronger sense of condemnation than the terms proffered by Abate and Evans. See UrbanDictionary.com (defining “douchebag” as “[s]omeone who has surpassed the levels of jerk and a**hole, however not yet reached f**ker or motherf**ker”). [FN2]
[FN1] Maybe someone with free Westlaw or Lexis access can confirm for us that F.3d is douchebag-free.
[FN2] Alternate definition of “douchebag” from Urban Dictionary: “A student or instructor at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities.” Well, as long as it’s not the law school….
Update: Thanks, commenters — F.3d is certifiably douchebag-free.
Further Update: Oh wait… As this commenter notes, if you expand the search to include “douche bag” and “douche-bag,” you’ll see that F.3d has been thoroughly defiled.
Appeals Court Weighs Teen’s Web Speech [AP]
Defense Crumbles as Students Weather Cross-Examination [CT News Junkie]
douchebag [Urban Dictionary]
douche commercial [YouTube]

Southern Appeal Feddie AboveTheLaw legal blog.jpg* Just like the Hillary Clinton campaign, one of our favorite legal blogs, Southern Appeal, has resurrected itself. Welcome back to the blogosphere, Feddie! [Southern Appeal]
* If Loyola 2L were still around, we’d direct him to this link, about a Loyola alum who has made good — very good. [LawCrossing]
* A pressing question in defamation law: “What is the standard for someone to accurately and factually be described as a slut?” [The Legal Satyricon]
* Getting into a public spat with a blogger is usually a bad idea. As John McCain once quipped when asked about Mitt Romney, “Never get into a wrestling match with a pig. You both get dirty, and the pig likes it.” [Fire George Karl via WSJ Law Blog]
* A little bit more about our recent Facebook exile. [New York Observer]

associate bonus watch 2007 law firm Above the Law blog.jpgYes, it’s March already. Guess what that means? No, we’re not talking about March Madness. We’re thinking of… bonus news from Paul Hastings!
A tipster in a non-New York office summarizes:

It looks like we matched Latham’s base levels. I’ve also been told that NYC matched the special bonuses there.

Better late than never!

We got our grubby paws on the memo sent to associates in California, Chicago, and Washington, DC. Here’s the money (hehe) quote:

This year’s associate bonus pool of $23.3 million is the largest in Firm history – a 20% increase over last year’s pool – with approximately 81% of participating associates receiving a bonus. Additionally, bonus awards for your offices are higher than last year at virtually all levels.

Performance expectations are steep, thus receipt of a bonus is a significant achievement. Top level bonuses are the exception and are awarded to associates distinguishing themselves by consistently demonstrating exceptional performance that far surpasses the Firm’s standards. Approximately 10% of all bonus recipients distinguished themselves at this level and were awarded the top bonus.

We haven’t seen memos for other PH offices. A source in Atlanta, though, claims that the firm cut ATL bonuses by 50 percent. Perhaps that’s their way of balancing out the recent pay raise.
We also haven’t seen the New York numbers. But at a meeting “a while back,” Barry Brooks, the firm’s New York managing partner, effectively told associates they’d match shops like Latham and Gibson.
The full memo for California / Chicago / D.C. — plus additional discussion about Paul Hastings, including complaints about the timing of their class-year raises and bonus payments — after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: Paul Hastings – California, Chicago, DC
(Plus a complaint about timing of PH’s raises and bonuses.)”

From today’s AM New York:
Tom Hanks Hates Lawyers Above the Law blog.jpg
Well, Tom, we don’t like you that much either. It’s pretty ridiculous that you’re a two-time Oscar winner. You have to be one of the most overrated actors working today.

Speaking of Penn Law School… Penn grad Anthony Ciolli, the former AutoAdmit.com executive, has gone from being a defendant to a plaintiff. He’s filed a civil action in Pennsylvania state court against the two Yale Law School “Jane Does” from the AutoAdmit case, their lawyers, and various other parties.
We just got our hands on his Complaint, filed earlier today in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. We’re still reviewing it, but we didn’t want to delay in breaking the news and sharing the pleading with you. You can access the Complaint by clicking here (PDF).
Update (2:30 PM): You’ve done our job for us. There are lots of interesting observations, on both sides of the debate, in the comments. The WSJ Law Blog has also put up a post, which you can access over here.
To give you the flavor of it, here’s the caption and first page:
Anthony Ciolli Heide Iravani AutoAdmit xoxohth Above the Law blog.jpg
Ciolli v. Iravani [PDF]
Ciolli Sues Yale Law Students in AutoAdmit Scandal [WSJ Law Blog]

  • 05 Mar 2008 at 1:05 PM
  • Uncategorized

An Update on the Penn Law Situation

University of Pennsylvania Law School Penn Law Above the Law blog.jpgA bit of follow-up on goings-on at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. First, in yesterday’s post, we predicted: “[E]xpect Dean Fitts to send out some vague email offering blanket reassurances, but declining to say more due to federal privacy law. That seems to be par for the course for these incidents.”
Our prediction has been vindicated:

Sent: Wed 3/5/2008 12:01 PM
To: [U. Penn. community]
Subject: A Message from Dean Fitts

To the Law School Community,

As you may know, there was increased Public Safety presence at the Law School for a few days. Like most institutions, the University varies security on campus in response to changing situations and often does so out of an extra sense of precaution. We usually do not discuss these measures publicly. In this case, we did not do so out of respect for the privacy of a member of our community. Let me assure you that there were never any threats made nor were there any “incidents” at Penn Law. Our decisions in this case, as in others, are made and evaluated constantly with the intent of serving the best interests of our community. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to stop by
my office.

Have a great spring break,

Mike

Second, check out comment #7 on the Daily Pennsylvanian article, posted today at 12:04 AM. It purports to be from the student in question (who identifies himself by name). This individual writes:

Unless there was yet another mishap by Penn or Penn Law, I am the student who was placed on this leave of absence. This is nothing more than a staged proceeding to force me to make precedent in the third circuit by tarnishing my reputation.

I am not on any psychiatric medication nor have I taken any. If the University actually believes that I pose a threat to your safety, then it should protect you by requiring me to seek mental health treatment instead of invoking this policy. I am now alone and upset and near a campus full of bright and happy students.

Very curious. We do wonder whether some law schools, out of an entirely legitimate concern for the safety of their students, overreact to reports of unusual behavior. History is full of examples of mass hysteria, from the Salem witch trials to the day care sex abuse scare, that turned out to be unfounded.
We’re not disputing the need for law school administrators to be vigilant, especially in light of the horrific school shootings of the past few years. And we completely understand their concern: if, God forbid, something were to happen on their campuses, they would be held responsible.
We’re just playing devil’s advocate and tossing out some fodder for discussion. That’s all.
Comments: Student prompts security increase [Daily Pennsylvanian]
Earlier: What’s Going on at Penn Law?

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