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Cleary Gottlieb Steen Hamilton LLP CGSH Above the Law blog.jpgThe venerable law firm of Cleary Gottlieb, which has always been known as a kinder, gentler sort of place — at least by Biglaw standards — has fired a shot across the bow of its peer firms.
Cleary just announced their move to the new “market” rate of 18 weeks of parental leave. But they didn’t stop there. They also rolled out all sorts of perks and fringe benefits that associates are sure to love. From a Cleary source:

See attached. Cleary ups parental leave and adds other programs on flex-time, telecommuting, professional development, career counseling, management training — and free lunches on Mondays!

And from a tipster at a rival firm:

Cleary announced a new flex-time policy open to all associates above the second-year class, plus a two-day-a-month telecommuting policy for all associates. Other changes and boring stuff I skimmed through in the attached…

I hope my firm takes the hint!

Check out the memos for yourself (links below). Kudos to Cleary!
Will other top New York law firms follow suit? Only time will tell.
New Initiatives to Improve Professional Development and Quality of Life [PDF]
Parental Leave Policy [PDF]

Shih Tzu dog stolen steal dog Puddle Alice Texas Above the Law blog.jpgThe main villain this story is the client rather than the lawyer. But the facts are too good for us not to mention it. From today’s New York Times:

ALICE, Tex. – Rustling has been frowned upon in this South Texas cow and cotton town since long before it was named for the youngest daughter of the founder of the nearby King Ranch.

So when the mayor, Grace Saenz-Lopez, agreed to take care of her next-door neighbors’ sick Shih Tzu and ended up keeping it, telling them the dog was dead and buried, it was bound to get ugly.

Particularly after the mop-haired critter, Puddles, turned up quite alive — and renamed Panchito — at Ms. Saenz-Lopez’s twin sister’s ranch 14 miles away.

As one of our tipsters quips, “It’s nice to know that abuse of power is alive and well in Texas… This is the same town that rigged an election for LBJ back in the day.”
But there is a role for the lawyer in this story:

[Ms. Saenz-Lopez] said she had no regrets [for taking the dog from a flea-infested home]. “If we can’t be the voice of the people any more, let us be the voice of animals.”

Her lawyer, Homero Canales, wearing a black T-shirt with the words “No Culpable” — Spanish for “Not Guilty” — quibbled slightly. “You could have handled it better,” he said.

Ms. Garcia looked surprised. “Thank you, counselor,” she said.

More about Homero, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawyer of the Day: Homero Canales”

associate bonus watch 2007 law firm Above the Law blog.jpgOur latest associate bonus news comes from Heller Ehrman. On Monday, we were alerted to their bonus meeting:

Heller has an all-associate video conference tomorrow (Tuesday, 9 a.m. PST) where, among other things, associate compensation will be discussed. Bonus checks are due on Friday, and no one knows what they’ll get in advance. (You have an idea based on last year’s grid, but that doesn’t account for the discretionary bonus, if there is any.)

They’ve been very quiet, but at a retreat at the Claremont in the Bay Area this past weekend, the opening presentation was extremely negative (although 2008 looks very good so far). A test run?

I don’t know if they’ve done it in the past, but this year associates were asked to justify the non-hours based portion of their bonus in a memo. I would not be surprised, given the recent Heller-related press, to see them go to a non-transparent bonus system.

Heller isn’t the only firm where associates are called upon to justify their bonus love. See also Akin Gump (item #2; outside New York).
Oh yes, so the Heller videoconference took place yesterday. If you’re interested in what transpired, it’s described after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: Heller Ehrman”

We received over five hundred responses to last Thursday’s ATL / Lateral Link survey on client contact, and most of you have been enjoying extensive client interaction:
Results: How many times have you interacted with clients in the last month?
Client Contact Statistics From Lateral Link
Of course, not all client contacts are created equal:

  • About 93% of respondents spoke with clients on the phone, or e-mailed them directly.
  • About two-thirds of respondents had their names on briefs or memos that were sent to clients.
  • Another two-thirds met clients in person.
  • About a quarter of respondents actually attended social events with clients.
  • A fifth pitched prospective clients.
  • About 18% of respondents reported bringing in new clients last month.
  • More findings and discussion, after the jump.

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Featured Job Survey Results: Making Rain?”

    gun pistol firearm Second Amendment Above the Law blog.jpgWe’re having a very sportcentric morning here at ATL. From the AP:

    A lawyer for a sports marketer who is suing football star Reggie Bush said he and his client walked out of a deposition Tuesday after a bodyguard for Bush’s attorney opened his jacket to expose a pistol.

    “He made sure we saw it,” said attorney Brian Watkins, who represents sports marketer Lloyd Lake.

    Watkins said Bush attorney David Cornwell told him the bodyguard had a permit to carry a concealed weapon. The bodyguard identified himself only by his first name and did not present a business card, Watkins said.

    Because it’s totally cool to have a gunman in your depo room, as long as you have his business card.

    “It’s outrageous that he shows up strapped for a deposition,” Watkins said. “That’s outrageous conduct in the lawyer world. Come on, we’re lawyers. I don’t threaten people, I sue them.”

    That’s glib, Mr. Watkins. Isn’t threatening part of a lawyer’s job description? Although not typically with firearms, to be sure.

    Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, the law firm that hosted the deposition in its San Diego office, said it was investigating. It said none of its lawyers were present at the deposition.

    “The firm absolutely prohibits the presence of firearms in any of our offices and we believe our personnel were unaware that a firearm had been brought onto our premises, assuming that did occur,” the firm said in a statement.

    Any firm that does allow attorneys to tote guns to work deserves to go up a few spots on the Vault 100. Because that would be badass. Packing heat would put the “mofo” in MoFo.
    Next up in Biglaw Perk Watch: Concealed weaponry?
    Update: A tipster tells us:

    The other side of this is in this ESPN story: Lake is a convicted gang member and, according to Bush’s attorney Cornwell, made threats of violence including through his own attorney, Watkins.

    “Cornwell also reported details of his first meeting with Watkins. Watkins told Cornwell that Lake was a gang member and that if the Bush camp did not pay off Lake, he [Watkins] could not control him. Cornwell also said that Lake made two threats against Bush in December 2007. After discussing the threats with law enforcement and private security professionals, Bush’s legal team was told to take precautions when in Lake’s presence.”

    Bush’s guard flashes gun at accuser [AP via SI.com]

    Sports and the Law 3 Above the Law blog.jpgFor most of the past century, Congress has failed to adequately regulate professional sports. For example, when Major League Baseball (“MLB”) actively monopolized, Congress did nothing (1914-1998). When the National Football League (“NFL”) sought to merge with its main competitor (the American Football League), Congress granted the NFL a special antitrust exemption to do so (1966). And, when sports teams began to use their market power to pressure cities to build new stadiums, Congress even voted down legislation that would have protected the interests of the American taxpayer (1996 & 1999).
    This week, however, Congress has shifted from a policy of under-regulating professional sports to a policy of potentially over-regulating them. In the coming week, Capitol Hill will be abuzz with three sports-related investigations: Spygate, Churchgate, and, of course, the MLB Steroids Investigation.
    MLB Steroids Investigation:
    The main event on Capitol Hill this week involves the ongoing investigation into MLB’s use of performance-enhancing drugs — an issue that Henry Waxman (D-California) and Tom Davis (R-Virginia) first began investigating back in March 2005. This morning, Roger Clemens — the most dominant starting pitcher of his era — will defend himself against accusations made by his former trainer Brian McNamee that he injected Clemens with illegal performance-enhancing drugs during the 1998, 2000 and 2001 seasons.
    Earlier this month, New York Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte and former Yankees second baseman/outfielder Chuck Knoblauch were deposed by the House Committee on Government Reform about this same topic. Both Pettitte and Knoblauch’s statements — neither of which have been made public — might be used by the House Committee in today’s questioning of both Clemens and McNamee.
    Discussion continues, after the jump.

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Sports and the Law: Steroids, and Spygate, and Churchgate, Oh My!”

    john mccain senator john mccain above the law blog.jpg* Senators Obama and McCain sweep D.C., Maryland, and Virginia primaries; Obama overtakes Clinton in delegate count. [CNN]
    * Writers vote to end strike. [New York Times]
    * Senate spy bill includes telecom immunity. [Washington Post]
    * Sen. Specter, NFL Commish Goodell to discuss Patriots’ “spygate” incident. [ESPN]
    * Foreclosure rescue plan coming together. [New York Times]
    * When sports law meets civ pro: Clemens defamation lawsuit against McNamee may be moved to federal court. [MLB.com]
    * Good news for PPP at Dickstein Shapiro? [WSJ Law Blog]
    * How a lawyer survived last week’s shooting rampage in Kirkwood, Missouri. [ABA Journal]
    * N.J. U.S. Attorney finds himself on defensive; GAO could investigate award of contract to John Ashcroft. [New York Times]

    Gibson Dunn Crutcher LLP GDC gdclaw Above the Law blog.JPGWe have confirmed, with a reliable source at the firm, the rumor that Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher now pays a $50,000 clerkship bonus, as of January 1 of this year. We don’t know the firm’s policy for multiple clerkships of years of clerking; if you happen to know, email us, and we’ll update this post with the information once it’s confirmed.
    Over the weekend, there was some discussion about a possible slowdown in terms of law firms hiring law clerks. Could sizable clerkship bonuses be contributing to this, by making law clerks more expensive for firms to hire?
    Update: Two pieces of additional information. First, the $50,000 bonus is “flat”; it does not increase for multiple clerkships or years of clerking. Second:

    I love Gibson Dunn, but don’t be fooled. They just eliminated the bar stipend amount ($15,000), and then tell you that you are getting a $50,000 bonus for clerking. You can get $15,000 in the summer before you start your clerkship (like all of the other new associates) to help pay for the bar, but then your bonus really is only $35,000. So, they didn’t really up their bonus, they just called your bar stipend something different.

    Pop Tort legal blog Pop Tarts Above the Law blog.jpg* A new blog committed to civil justice and consumer advocacy issues. Maybe they can start a blog war with Overlawyered.com? [The Pop Tort]
    * As it turns out, the plaintiffs’ bar may need all the help it can get these days. They don’t need the feds to show up and indict them; they can self-destruct quite nicely on their own, thank you very much. [National Law Journal]
    * apparently john quinn is not the only rich and powerful man with a weakness for lowercase type. meet jerry yang of yahoo. [Securities and Exchange Commission]
    * Speaking of SEC-related matters: David vs. Goliath? The SEC takes on the “Terrible 20″ — and their lawyers — in federal court. [New York Post]
    * Still in the world of finance. Goldman Sachs perk watch: free sex change surgery? Now that’s what we call a “special bonus.” [DealBook]
    * While we’re taking a random walk down Wall Street, check this out: the cover of the annual Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue as stock market indicator. [DealBreaker]

    William and Mary Marshall Wythe School of Law Above the Law blog.jpgWe love internecine warfare at law schools and in other academic settings. As the old saying goes — our cursory Googling doesn’t immediately generate the exact wording or source, so we’ll paraphrase — fights in academia are so vicious because the stakes are so small.

    As Hillary and Barack do battle in Virginia today, so too do administrators at William and Mary. From a tipster at William & Mary School of Law (interesting factoid: it’s one of the oldest law schools in the country):

    Today the William and Mary Board of Visitors decided not to renew William and Mary President Gene Nichol’s contract. Nichols sent out a pretty amazing email to all students about his resignation, and Michael Powell, former FCC Chairman and Rector of W&M, sent a response. Needless to say, people are talking of nothing else today.

    To make the story even better, the law school dean, Taylor Reveley, is now serving as President of W&M. Nichols is joining the law school staff, where his wife is also a professor.

    Check out the messages — Gene Nichol’s defiant departure email, claiming he was ousted due to ideological reasons, and Michael Powell’s steadfast denial that the non-renewal was based on ideology — after the jump.

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Turmoil at William & Mary – Law School Dean Takes Over as President”

    Skadden Arps Slate Meagher Flom Abovethelaw Above the Law online legal tabloid.jpgEveryone’s written about this story already; we don’t have much to add. Maybe we’ll write more later if the spirit moves us, but we’re not feeling terribly inspired right now.

    In the meantime, check out the numerous links collected below, opine in the comments, and take our poll. We’re curious about what you think of legal hotties contests. We’ve done a few around here, including contests for America’s hottest ERISA lawyer and hottest law school dean, but we haven’t held one in a while. Whether we do more may depend upon the results of this poll.

    For those of you who approve of, and never got the chance to vote in, the Skadden “Hottest Female Associate” contest — nominees here, winner here — it has been resurrected over at Gawker. Vote for your favorite SASMF hottie over here.

    Not so hot [Skadden Insider]
    The votes are in: It’s Mattie [Skadden Insider]
    At Law Firm, Please Keep The Lady Objectification To A Low Roar. At Gawker, Go Right Ahead. [Gawker]
    Blog Suspends Skadden ‘Hot Associates’ Contest, Says Memo Prompted Decision [ABA Journal]
    Skadden Kills Blog’s ‘Hot Associate’ Contest [Legal Pad]
    Skadden Blog’s ‘Hot Associate’ Contest Is Put on Ice [American Lawyer]
    Skadden red-faced after ‘hottest lawyer’ row [Legal Week]
    Skadden Insider: Hot or Not? [WSJ Law Blog]

    laptop pink girl woman Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgWhy do so many dubious lawsuits originate here in the D.C. metro area? First we had Judge Roy Pearson’s $54 million lawsuit against his dry cleaners, over a pair of lost pants. And now we get this, via Engadget:

    We’ve definitely heard some horror stories about Best Buy, but it looks like a DC woman named Raelyn Campbell has had enough: she’s opening up a big can of America Sauce on the retailer in the form of a $54m lawsuit after it lost her laptop during warranty service….

    Campbell says she’s not dropping the case until she finds out what happened to her machine — and she wants ol’ Blue to train its employees on privacy issues and revamp its warranty policy. Honestly? We’d say she has a better chance of getting the $54 million.

    Update: For more details, see her blog. Raelyn Campbell is a woman on a mission.
    Woman files $54m lawsuit against Best Buy for losing laptop [Engadget]

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