No, seriously. Despite the perception of Biglaw partners as fat cats, some of them, at least in their early years, take home less than the senior associates who toil under them. From an article in the Legal Times by Nathan Carlile (whose work we’ve always admired, even before he wrote this nice profile of us):
[T]he most recent round of associate pay hikes has edged senior associates ever closer to junior partner pay rates. In fact, in some cases, senior associates can come out ahead of partners — particularly if the firm has a nonequity tier.
Here’s just one example: At Arent Fox, Chairman Marc Fleischaker says senior associates can earn as much as $280,000 in base salary and — if they meet targets for generating business — an additional $100,000 in bonuses. Total: $380,000. First-year nonequity partners start off with a pay rate of $310,000. But they subtract $20,000 to cover their own benefits. Their total: $290,000.
Additional excerpts and discussion, after the jump.
In previous ATL / Lateral Link surveys, we’ve discovered that a surprising number of you worked over Christmas or New Year’s, and that many of you crave a better work environment or better hours.
So, as we look forward to the Superbowl and tomorrow night’s Lost premiere and the crowning of ATL’s Lawyer of the Year (not necessarily in that order), we can’t help but wonder: how many of you will actually be in the office instead of celebrating?
Today’s ATL / Lateral Link survey takes a wistful look back at the cancelled plans of yesteryear.
[Update: This survey is now closed. Click here for the results.]
Whatever your responses, you can look forward to this: tomorrow we’ll announce both the ATL Lawyer of the Year and your Second Favorite Blog After ATL. For that latter contest, we’re adding in Blogonaut after receiving at least seventy write-in ballots. Sure, they were all from one person so most of them didn’t count, but they were committed. (Thanks also to those of you who wrote in The Associate Pirate (Arr is for Resume!), but I’m recusing myself from this one. It’s not so much the potential conflict of interest as the fear that my blog would get beat up by taxgirl‘s blog.)
– Justin Bernold is a Director at Lateral Link, the sponsor of this survey.
Official announcements haven’t been made yet, but they’re imminent. Two prominent attorneys are about to drop out of the presidential race: former U.S. Attorney and Associate Attorney General Rudy Giuliani, and super-successful trial lawyer John Edwards.
Random factoid: Giuliani and Edwards both attended top law schools, NYU and UNC – Chapel Hill, respectively. These schools are respectively ranked #4 and #36 by U.S. News. [FN1]
But the remaining candidates who happen to be lawyers went to Harvard (Barack Obama and Mitt Romney) and Yale (Hillary Clinton). These two schools, national institutions for many years, are ranked #2 and #1, respectively.
Loyola 2L claims to be “retired” from the blogosphere. But if here were still around, he might wonder aloud: Are American voters “tier-ist”?
P.S. And who cares about these stupid rankings anyway? A number of top law schools may beoverrated.
[FN1] And the law school rankings didn’t exist back when Edwards and Giuliani attended. Update: First, it appears that some of you have misread this post. We doubt that many voters know or care about where a candidate went to law school. We just (1) pointed out a “random factoid,” and (2) suggested that people who are obsessed with law school rankings, like Loyola 2L, might try to read something into this.
Second, from an observant tipster:
“It might be worth noting that according to the exit polls the most influential lawyer yesterday was none of the ones you mentioned.”
“Rather it was T3 graduate Gov. Charlie Crist (Cumberland Law), whose endorsement seemed to boost McCain past Romney while at the same time destroying any hope Rudy had since Rudy had been courting Crist for weeks.”
* “T.Owes.” [ESPN]
* Rebates to $500? [CNN]
* AG Mukasey won’t label waterboarding. [MSNBC]
* Sen. McCain wins Florida, Rudy to bow out. [New York Times; Washington Post]
* Federal inquiry into stolen artifacts expands. [New York Times]
* Margaret Truman, only child of President Truman and author of mysteries set at the Supreme Court and the FBI, RIP. [AP]
Earlier this month, we posted an open thread on the law school gunner. It generated a spirited discussion — perhaps too spirited — and we eventually closed it to new comments.
We’re going to try this again. Here’s another open thread to share your gunner stories. But please keep the discourse civil, and please don’t call out anyone by name. If you’re mentioned in a story and want to defend yourself, come up with a pseudonym for doing so. You really don’t want ATL to come up when someone Googles you (e.g., around recruiting season).
As is our practice, we’ll kick things off with a story. From a tipster at a law school in New York:
last semester a 1L decided to spread a little rumor. he said he knew what was going to be on one of the finals (civ pro) — actually he dropped another person’s name who people trusted and said that the prof told her what was going to be on the exam. word spread pretty quickly that the last question of the exam would be a policy question, and that preclusion wouldn’t be covered. it was a complete lie; he just made it up. most people studied everything anyway, but there were definitely a bunch who spent a lot of extra time trying to study “policy” issues and less time on preclusion (which of course ended up being a question on the exam).
p.s. this guy studies with a small group who call themselves the “dream team” – haha
some other things that i was told later on but didn’t experience first-hand:
1) he allegedly conspired to mislead the class for weeks about this
2) his facebook status said “[his name] is exploiting situations like Geraldo Rivera” after he spread the word about what was supposedly on the test
* A PSA for Blackberry Pearl users on the T-Mobile network. Also, Theresa sounds deliciously evil. [PrawfsBlawg]
* “Senator Obama, we knew Jack Kennedy, and you, Senator, are–well, dude, you were two-years-old….” [What About Clients?]
* “Lessons from Mary-Kategate: Why Lawyers Should Not Engage in Media Relations.” And we agree wholeheartedly with this statement: “the ability to get under powerful people’s skin. If ever there was a talent valued among tabloid journalists, that’s got to be it.” [Starkman & Associates]
* DLA Piper to launch an in-house version of Facebook. But can you play Scrabulous on it? [Legal Blog Watch]
* It’s hard out here in a courtroom for a pimp, proceeding pro se. [11Alive.com]
* Oregon Supreme Court puts kibosh on unkindest cut. [Blogonaut]
* Blawg Review #144, with a Lord of the Rings theme. [Cyberlaw Central via Blawg Review]
Georgetown is an excellent law school — “T14″ (top 14), as some like to say — with many things going for it. Supreme Court justices lovetovisit. Students get to take classes like The Law of 24. The diva-licious Nina Totenberg speaks at commencement.
Perhaps most importantly, at least to readers of ATL, Georgetown grads land excellent jobs. Not surprisingly, in a recent poll, a majority of respondents said they’d need $100,000 to turn down 14th-ranked Georgetown in favor of, say, 51st-ranked Arizona State (maybe ’cause they’d like to be separated from Kumari Fulbright by multiple states).
But GULC isn’t perfect. Mistakes get made — mistakes that could, say, compromise your personally identifiable information (and mess with your credit score). From several tipsters:
“You might want to post this so anyone who graduated during this time but didn’t get the e-mail knows about the stolen identities.”
“I got this warning this morning. Evidently, not everyone is affected, as students next to me in class have not received the email. Just thought I’d forward this along to show the problems at American could be worse – at least their identities aren’t at risk.”
View the email, after the jump. Update: We have also posted a follow-up to the original message.
Unlike yesterday — and by the way, we’ll keep the reader poll open for a few more hours — today we have no difficulty picking our Lawyer of the Day. Hollywood lawyer James Jackson maltreated his Filipino maid. We do not like it when you mess with our peeps.
From the AP (via Law.com):
A former Hollywood studio attorney and his wife were sentenced Monday for abusive treatment of their Filipino maid in a case federal prosecutors said “amounts to modern-day slavery.”
James Jackson, the former vice president of legal affairs at Sony Pictures, was ordered to perform 200 hours of community service and pay a $5,000 fine. His wife, Elizabeth, was sentenced to three years in prison after her attorneys unsuccessfully pleaded for her to receive home detention.
These Hollywood types are ruthless (we’ve watched “Entourage”). Studio lawyers make Biglaw partners look like social workers. Consider the treatment alleged by the former maid in her civil suit against the couple:
[Former maid Nena] Ruiz claimed in her civil lawsuit that Elizabeth Jackson regularly slapped her and pulled her hair. She also said she was forced to sleep on a dog bed and was given three-day-old food to eat even as she was expected to clean and provide fresh fruit to the Jacksons’ pets. The Jacksons only paid her $300 for her work….
Back in November, we broke the news that, barring a “substantial improvement” in market conditions, the law firm of Thacher Proffitt & Wood would resort to lawyer layoffs in January. The firm is a major player in structured finance and real estate, two practice areas that have been hard hit by the credit crunch.
January is now here — and, in fact, almost over. We were reminded of this last week, when we saw this article in the New York Sun about law firm layoffs, mentioning Thacher Proffitt:
Earlier this month, Manhattan-based Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft laid off 35 lawyers, 26 of them in New York City, and late last year, Thatcher Proffitt & Wood cut 50 associates’ jobs. The cuts have spurred other firms to follow suit, experts said.
Was the statement accurate, insofar as it suggests or implies that TPW laid off fifty (50) associates? We followed up with Thacher, which issued this statement, through a spokesperson:
As described in our November 27, 2007 official statement, we notified 24 associates in the Structured Finance and Real Estate Practice Groups that if there was no substantial improvement in the market, it was near certain that economic layoffs would take effect in January 2008. As of today, 99% of the 24 associates have accepted a package which compensates them through the end of March 2008, and many have already found new positions. To clarify recent media reports, these events occurred ahead of our initial plan to commence layoffs. [Ed. note: Maybe it should be 96% of the 24 associates -- 23/24 = 95.8%. But who knows... maybe one person is still working part-time for TPW?]
In addition, we offered our first-year associates in the Structured Finance and Real Estate Practice Groups a four-month severance package, should they volunteer to leave the firm. Again, referring to our original statement, the first-year associates’ offer remains strictly voluntary; they are under no obligation to accept it. We do feel it’s in their best interest to explore other opportunities, since we are concerned that we will not be able to provide them with the best work experience at this formative stage of their careers. A group of first-year associates has voluntarily accepted this package.
Finally, we would like to acknowledge the goodwill of those in the business and legal communities who have expressed interest in our associates and have helped to place them in new positions. Although these decisions were difficult for our firm, we are confident that our approach kept our associates’ interests in mind and also mitigated our business risks.
We construed this as a statement that the firm did not have to resort to layoffs (as originally planned). We followed up with TPW, and they confirmed this understanding: “Up to this point, departures have been voluntary.” [FN1]
But should TPW associates start dancing in the hallways? Not yet. When we asked if this meant the firm had ruled out layoffs going forward, Thacher was noncommittal: “We cannot speculate on future market conditions and the potential impact on our attorney population.”
So stay tuned. In other TPW news, it’s not just associates who are leaving. Partner V. Gerard (“Jerry”) Comizio, a prominent banking and financial services lawyer here in D.C., just left Thacher to join Paul Hastings (see this press release). When a firm is going through tough times, partner defections are to be expected (although they’re unwelcome news, since rainmaker departures only exacerbate the problem of insufficient business to go around).
[FN1] We realize, of course, that if you “voluntarily” depart after being told you’ll probably be laid off if you stay, it’s not completely “voluntary.” A cynic must suggest that it’s like “voluntarily” giving the mugger your wallet after being told you’ll be shot if you don’t. But, on a hyper-technical level, we wouldn’t consider these departures “true” layoffs. People can always wait for the ax to fall — like the one apparent holdout among the 24 associates. Fearing Recession, Law Firms Tighten Belts [New York Sun] Pinup’s Naked Justice: Keeps Lawyer Job [New York Post] Paul Hastings Bolsters Bank Regulatory Practice with the Addition of V. Gerard Comizio to the Washington, D.C. Office [Paul Hastings (press release)] Earlier: Nationwide Layoff Watch: Thacher Proffitt Announces Likely Future Layoffs
Our favorite bride this week is one we don’t get to write about. Rachel Berkowitz is a professional organizer who “helps individuals and businesses to organize closets, filing systems and offices and to move and pack.” And if you’re not a little bit turned on by that, we want to see your underwear drawer.
On the legal-eagle front, three Fordham JDs (at least) and a Sunday school teacher make this our first Catholic-themed week here at LEWW.
Before the New Year, associates in the New York office of Morrison & Foerster received their bonus news. Now it’s time for their colleagues outside of NYC to collect their cash.
In addition to the firm’s “standard productivity bonuses under the published 2007 compensation program,” MoFo is paying out (1) “a one-time bonus” (it sounds “special” to us), ranging from $10,000 – $20,000, to associates and certain of counsel who met or exceeded their hours requirements, and (2) merit bonuses, for “exemplary lawyering and exceptional teamwork,” ranging from $15,000 – $30,000.
Full memo, after the jump.
Time is running out on this month’s ATL Lawyer of the Year and Second Favorite Blog After ATL polls, both sponsored by ATL and Lateral Link.
So far, we’re up to just over 2,600 votes for Lawyer of the Year, and Wall Street Journal pick Loyola 2L is still going strong. Meanwhile, Barack Obama has a roughly 2.5 to 1 lead over Hillary Clinton, and Alberto Gonzales is stamping out civil rights stomping on music rights attorney Ray Beckerman . . . but pretty much nobody else.
On the blogging front, the Wall Street Journal remains the blog to beat, while Above The Law is still in second place and Volokh Conspiracy is on track for third, having opened up a hefty lead over Patently-O and SCOTUSblog. Write-in candidate Ms. JD has overpowered Overlawyered, and Likelihood of Confusion has turned the tables on Professor Bainbridge and is now closing in on Skadden Insider.
We’ll post the final results on Thursday.
But while you’re voting for the champions above, are you also voting with your feet at work? In last month’s ATL / Lateral Linkjob survey about 20% of you responded that you were considering leaving your current firms once you received your bonus. But that was before many of you knew what your bonuses were going to be.
So last week, we asked you whether your job searches were indeed underway. Find out if the answers changed after the jump.
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past seven years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
It’s that time of year again when JDs are starting to apply for 2L summer jobs and 2L summers are deciding which practice area to focus on.
For those JDs with an interest in potentially lateraling to or transferring to Asia in the future, please feel free to reach out to Kinney for advice on firm choices, interviewing and practice choices, relating to future marketability in Asia, or for a general discussion on your particular Asia markets of interest. This is of course a free of cost service for those who some years in the future may be our future industry contacts or perhaps even clients.
For some years now Kinney’s Asia head, Evan Jowers, has been formally advising Harvard Law students with such questions, as the Asia expert in Harvard Law’s “Ask The Experts Market Program” each summer and fall, with podcasts and scheduled phone calls. This has been an enjoyable and productive experience for all involved.
If you are considering a virtual law practice, you know that many of today’s solo firms started that way. But why are established, multi-attorney law firms going virtual?
Many small firms are successfully moving part—or even all—of their practice to a virtual setting. This even includes multi-jurisdictional practice spanning several states and practice areas, although solo and small partnerships are still the largest adopters of virtual law.
Can you do the same? The new article Mobile in Practice, Virtual by Design from author Jared Correia, Esq., explores how mobile technology bring real-life benefits to a small law firm. Read this new article—the next in Thomson Reuters’ Independent Thinking series for small firms—to explore how a mobile practice:
Reduces malpractice risk
Enables you to gather the best attorneys to fit the firm, regardless of each person’s geographic location
Leverages mobile devices and cloud technology to enable on-the-spot client and prospect communication
Transitioning in-house is something many (if not most) firm lawyers find themselves considering at some point. For many, it’s the first step in their career that isn’t simply a function of picking the best option available based on a ranking system.
Unknown territory feels high-risk, and can have the effect of steering many of us towards the well-greased channels into large, established companies.
For those who may be open to something more entrepreneurial, there is far less information available. No recruiter is calling every week with offers and details.
In sponsorship with Betterment, ATL and David Lat will moderate a panel about life in-house and we’ll hear from GCs at Birchbox, Gawker Media, Squarespace, Bonobos, and Betterment. Drinks, snacks, networking, and a great time guaranteed. Invite your colleagues, but RSVP fast, as space is limited.