* Insurance companies win favorable Hurricane Katrina ruling in Fifth Circuit. [MSNBC]
* Senators, including Ted Stevens, vote to tighten lobbying and ethics rules. [New York Times]
* Poll finds decline in public SCOTUS love. [Yahoo]
* Bush aide Jennings testifies: “I will be unable at this time to answer any questions…” [MSNBC]
* R. Kelly’s child porn case to see trial. [CNN]
* Insurance companies win favorable Hurricane Katrina ruling in Fifth Circuit. [MSNBC]
We’re delighted to see that ATL has so many readers in ATL. And we apologize for that one time we were mean to you. (We don’t know what got into us; guess it was that time of the month.)
This morning’s post about the Alston & Bird raise, which will take effect shortly before your kids enter law school, generated robust commentary. It also earned us another shout-out in the mainstream media. From an Atlanta reader:
“Above the Law was mentioned in the Daily Report article on the Alston & Bird raise. In fact, the reporter confronted A&B’s hiring partner with some of the comments to your post.”
Here’s an excerpt from Meredith Hobbs’s excellent piece:
[A]ssociates posting anonymously to the Above the Law blog, a gossip and news Web site about big law firms, were not happy with Alston’s pay increase. They contended that associate pay in Atlanta still lags behind that in other comparable markets, such as Houston and Dallas….
Several blog posters criticized Alston for pay compression, pointing out that the firm is not increasing pay for more senior classes at the same $15,000 rate as for first-years.
“A&B did raise today. Starts at $145K, tops at $190K. So much for solving compression. Folks are devestated [sic],” wrote “Anonymous” a scant hour after Alston announced the increase last evening.
“First years get a 15K raise. I get 5K,” groused another.
When told of the comments, [A&B hiring partner Jonathan W. Lowe] responded: “If this is true, I am certainly disappointed to hear that our associates are unhappy with this pay raise. We try to determine what the market is with respect to associate salary in each of the cities where we have offices, and this was our best effort at determining the market in Atlanta at this time.”
We agree with our reader’s take on on Jon Lowe’s response:
“His reaction to the negative comments seemed to catch him off guard. You almost get the impression he expected to hear only the sound of Cristal corks popping.”
But hey, A&B associates, it’s not all bad. Remember the firm’s special generosity, back in May?
If this isn’t ringing a bell, your recollection may be refreshed by two emails, reprinted after the jump.
* Do you believe in life after law? Five Biglaw escapees — a writer, a baker, a stand-up joke-maker — discuss life on the outside. [New York Observer] [FN1]
* Some helpful clerkship application advice. [Infirmation] [FN2]
* Monica Goodling, to the Lido Deck! [What About Clients?]
* Fun fact of the day: Did you know that Peter Lattman likes fried plantains? [WSJ Law Blog]
[FN1] Yes, this is a shameless plug for the easy-to-miss sidebar to our New York Observer piece from last month.
[FN2] We’re not sure we concur with the view that “[a] generic cover letter is a tragically wasted opportunity.” Having seen some laughably bad “creative” cover letters over the years, we usually recommend a “do no harm” approach. If your application is strong, res ipsa loquitur.
Every now and then, we offer you some ATL Practice Pointers.
Today we bring you a legal writing lesson. This is how you write a preliminary statement:
Our tipster wonders:
“Frustrated writer, or just a d-bag? Unfortunately, he did not continue the pirate theme throughout the brief, or even bring it back in the conclusion.”
In case you haven’t noticed, we’re kinda obsessed with Linda Greenhouse, the longtime Supreme Court correspondent for the New York Times. But we’re afraid she’s not our biggest fan.
At the recent (and excellent) ACS National Convention, Tom Goldstein of SCOTUSblog moderated a fantastic panel on covering the Supreme Court. One of the panelists was Linda Greenhouse. After the panel, we approached and introduced ourselves. Her sarcastic response: “Oh, so you’re the famous David Lat.”
(Ouch — but we loved it. Getting abused by divas is one of our favorite pastimes!)
We praised her work. La Greenhouse quipped, quasi-snarkily (you had to be there): “Do you already have what I said up on the web?”
We offered her our business card, which she finally took — after pointedly letting it hover in the air. She did not proffer hers, then strode away, capri pants flapping in the ballroom’s air conditioning.
So yes, Linda Greenhouse — we had a reason for bringing her up. Did you catch her “Supreme Court Memo” in yesterday’s Times, on Chief Justice John Roberts’s recent seizure?
We have some meta-commentary on it. Check it out, after the jump.
Most Biglaw associates get four weeks of vacation. Do most people take much of their vacation time? If so, is it easier to take it in one big block or a few smaller blocks?
In our experience, it depends. When we were at a firm, we usually took a week at a time. But we had one colleague who would work like a madwoman for almost the entire year, then take a three-week jaunt off to some impossibly exotic location.
Here’s another email:
I had always assumed that all firms gave 4 weeks of vacation as standard, but I have learned recently that that is not the case. For example, a friend of mine recently lateraled to [firm X], and discovered when she arrived that they only get 3 weeks vacation. (This was not mentioned in her offer letter!)
Also, at Kirkland & Ellis, first through third years apparently get 3 weeks of vacation, while more senior associates get 4 weeks.
Giving more vacation as you get more senior is how the federal government works. You have to accrue vacation (“annual leave”) before spending it, and your accrual rate goes up as your tenure with the government increases. When you first start, you accrue at a rate of just four hours (or half a day) per two-week pay period. We had a colleague who made the most of this limited leave time by taking many three- or four day weekends.
Vacation has surfaced as a discussion topic in several prior perk threads, but this is the “official” post. So please discuss your employer’s vacation policies — and your strategies for making the most of it — in the comments. Thanks.
We thought we were all done with our series of fall recruiting open threads about various legal markets (collected here). But then we received several requests for a thread devoted to MIAMI.
Miami is a city where we know we have a devoted readership (having visited earlier this year). And putting up this little post doesn’t harm anyone. If you’re not interested, you can just skip down the page to other content.
So here’s the Miami thread. Please discuss legal job opportunities in that fabulous metropolis in the comments. Thanks.
Please welcome a new member to the $50K Club:
“Dewey Ballantine just raised its clerkship bonus. $50K for a federal clerkship or the highest court of any state.”
If you’re aware of any judicial clerkship bonus news that hasn’t previously appeared here, please email us (subject line: “Clerkship Bonus”).
In addition, if you’re planning to apply for a clerkship next month, we reiterate our earlier plug for the Clerkship Notification Blog.
Here at Above the Law, we’re committed to exploring the (sometimes harsh) realities of Biglaw life. One of those realities, of course, is timekeeping. That’s when you sit down and realize that, despite spending twelve hours in the office, somehow you only got eight hours of work done (maybe ’cause you spent too much time reading Perez Hilton and gossiping with your officemate about Project Runway).
Anyway, one curious reader emailed us:
Just wanted to see if there was any interest in seeing what large firms across the country’s policies were for timekeeping (daily, weekly, monthly) and what the penalties were for falling behind. I had heard that one firm withholds paychecks after enough time.
Funny you should ask! A second reader sent us this tip:
The abysmal associate morale at Fried Frank will not be improved by a new mandate to close out all time in full by the next business day or face sanctions.
Wow, that’s a harsh policy — but it’s true.
Check out the memo, and discuss your own firm’s policies on entering your hours, after the jump.
This is from earlier in the week, but it’s worthwhile. From Consumerist:
Remember Lara, whose self-portrait was stolen from deviantART and used as the cover of a porn DVD? Yeah, she’s suing the shady pornographers. Good for Lara.
You can read the entire complaint on The Smoking Gun, but here’s the best part:
“Apparently, merely ridiculing Lara Jade was no longer satisfying so Burge [that's the pornographer] and TVX felt the need to accuse Lara Jade of “scheming,” by which Burge presumably meant to suggest that Lara Jade, a teenager in England, had intentionally allowed her creative work to be placed on the internet in the hope that it would be stolen by a pornographic video manufacturer in Texas and used as the cover of a re-packaged 1970′s era pornographic movie so she could then locate the Texas-based pornographer in the hope of extracting compensation from it. The absurdity of this notion is readily apparent.”
Lara’s lawyer is awesome.
We concur. With advocacy like this, the presumption that someone named “Lara Jade” is a porn star can be rebutted.
UPDATE (10/2010): In September 2010, Lara Jade was vindicated, when a court ruled in her favor and awarded her $130,000 in damages. Congratulations to Lara Jade and her lawyer, Richard Harrison of Allen Dell in Tampa, Florida.
Girl Whose Photo Was Stolen And Used For Porn DVD Sues [Consumerist]
Teen Sues Over XXX-Video “Debut” [The Smoking Gun] [quasi-NSFW]
Yes, we’ve confirmed the rumor: Alston & Bird has raised associate salaries in Atlanta.
But before you rejoice, consider the details — the actual numbers, and the effective date. From a tipster:
An email went around at 6:05 p.m. [on Wednesday]. The raises take effect on January 1, 2008, and there is heavy compression:
Some Atlantans are less than thrilled. As one commenter wrote: “Morale at Atlanta firms is about equal to Iraqi troops who surrendered to Amercian news crews during the invasion.”
Still, as our tipster observed, “any raise is a raise.”