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Who Wants To Be a Millionaire Boies Schiller Flexner Above the Law blog.jpgQuite possibly. From the American Lawyer (via (subscription)):

[David] Boies, the founder of Boies, Schiller & Flexner, loves the thrill of placing bets both at the casino and on big contingency cases.

In November one of those bets paid off when Visa Inc. agreed to pay his client American Express Co. as much as $2.25 billion to settle an antitrust suit. The payday for Boies and his partners should be huge. For associates who worked on the case… their share of that fee depends on how each decided to roll the dice.

A thumbnail sketch of the compensation scheme:

The associates who worked on the American Express matter were offered a choice each year at bonus time. They could take the conservative route and have their annual bonus include the hours they devoted to this case. That way they’d be assured of getting some credit for those hours. The downside was that those hours aren’t counted toward the contingency fee. One lawyer familiar with the matter says the firm offered this bonus option to appease associates worried that the case might lead nowhere.

Plan B allowed associates to roll their hours over to the next year. If the case paid off, they would receive a share of the contingency fee proportionate to those hours. Ka-ching!

According to Boies, somewhere between a quarter and a half of the associates opted for the more risky approach. In hindsight, it was the right choice:

A young lawyer who placed her bets on the contingency fee could be richly rewarded. According to one former lawyer at the firm, an associate’s share of such a fee is tied to hours billed. The firm takes the percentage of hours the associate contributed to the case, divides by five and applies that fraction to the fee premium. Boies confirmed that this formula is “basically right,” although other factors could increase the associate’s share. A hypothetical example: If an associate contributed 5 percent of the overall hours to this case and the premium fee (the amount above normal billing rates) were $100 million, the associate would get 1 percent of $100 million — which is $1 million.

Now that’s what we call a bonus. Seven figures makes even Wachtell bonuses look paltry.
As noted in Susan Beck’s article, the case was filed in 2004, so it was kicking around for several years. But even if you spread $1 million out over four bonus cycles, it still comes out to a nice chunk of change. And presumably some of the BSF associates who worked on the AmEx matter also worked on other cases, making the AmEx bonus just a part of their total compensation.
Gamble Pays Off for Some Boies Schiller Associates [The American Lawyer via (subscription)]

Cadwalader Wickersham Taft CWT Abovethelaw Above the Law legal tabloid blog.JPGWe resume our wall-to-wall coverage of the recent associate layoffs at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft. Here are the latest news articles and tidbits:
1. Highlights from an article by Anthony Lin, in the New York Law Journal:

[M]ost of the laid-off lawyers worked in Cadwalader’s New York headquarters though the firm’s Charlotte, N.C., office was also affected. All were in the firm’s global finance and capital markets practices. Almost all of the affected lawyers were associates, said [management committee member Gregory] Markel, though he said one or two counsel may also have been let go.

[Per Markel:] “We concluded that this was not a three-month phenomenon or even a six-month phenomenon.”

Mr. Markel also said the firm was confident there would be no more layoffs in the future. After yesterday’s action, the firm will still have around 260 lawyers in the two affected practices.

A number of law firms active in the area have already announced cutbacks. Clifford Chance terminated a six-lawyer group in November. Thacher Proffitt & Wood and McKee Nelson both have offered buyouts to large numbers of associates working in the area.

2. Highlights from an article by Nathan Koppel, in the Wall Street Journal (via the Law Blog):

“We were very careful about this, and we waited to see if there were any signs of the economy turning around” before letting lawyers go, says Cadwalader partner Gregory Markel, chairman of the firm’s litigation department. “We didn’t see any evidence of this turning around.”

Cadwalader is one of the most prominent law firms to recently announce layoffs, which could trigger a chain reaction among other firms; capital markets and real-estate practices are down at many firms.

It is still relatively rare for large law firms to engage in mass staff reductions. For one, many large law firms boast specialties, such as litigation and bankruptcy, that typically pick up during down economies.

3. From an observant tipster not at CWT (and presumably happy about it):

“CWT apparently doesn’t update its lateral recruiting page very often, as it currently claims to be looking for structured finance and capital markets attorneys in several offices. See here.”

4. From a source at the firm, an interesting theory about how the news was disseminated, including a possible explanation for why it wasn’t announced announced internally first:

[A] partner in Corporate leaked all this information about the Capital Markets situation to a bunch of associates. Some of it was false, some true. [Management was] really upset with him because they wanted this information to come in an official announcement or meeting, not in rumors flying around.

I’m thinking they accelerated the press announcement because the information started leaking to outside sources, rather than staying inside. I still definitely think that they could have released it internally first, but there may have been other circumstances that I don’t know about. I am not sure if the press release and the corporate partner things are related, but it seems like they would not have released it so abruptly if it didn’t happen. Whenever something major happens, it is usually disclosed internally first.

5. Finally, in case you missed it — we posted it fairly late yesterday, as a mere update to a previously published post — here is CWT’s reassuring email to 2007 summer associates who accepted their offers to return full-time.
Cadwalader Laying Off 35 In Wake of Slumping Markets [New York Law Journal]
Law Firm Cadwalader To Lay Off 35 Attorneys [Wall Street Journal]
More on the Sackings at Cadwalader [WSJ Law Blog]

Laurence Tribe Laurence H Tribe Larry Tribe Above the Law.gifNo, that’s not some insult hurled at the distinguished constitutional law professor by a right-wing zealot; it’s a fact. From a memorandum that went out to Harvard Law School students this morning:

In order to help you plan your spring schedules, I need to let you know that Professor Laurence Tribe’s class this spring is being cancelled because he has recently been diagnosed with a brain tumor that is benign but will require medical treatment. Professor Tribe has asked me to convey this information and his regrets about this necessary decision.

We wish Professor Tribe the best of luck with his treatment regimen, as well as a speedy recovery.
From one tipster:

It’s just a matter of time before knee-jerk dittohead-wannabes bust out jokes like “Isn’t liberalism a form of a brain disorder?” Then again, this could end up straight out of Woody Allen’s Everyone Says I Love You, if the removal of the brain tumor turns Tribe into a fire-breathing right-winger.

Professor Tribe is a public figure, and he has surely had every epithet in the book leveled at him, multiple times. Nevertheless, even if he’s a big boy (who has better things to do than read blog comments), please keep the discussion civil. Thanks.

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver Hedges associate salary Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgSome associates at Quinn Emanuel are a tad grumpy these days. But here are three items to cheer them up:
1. Profits per partner clear $3 million. As we previously reported in these pages, some QE associates were rather unhappy with their bonuses. But look on the bright side: stingy bonuses mean more money once you make partner.
As reported by Zusha Elinson in the Recorder:

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges continued its screaming ascent in 2007 with financial results that should put a scare into the most profitable New York firms.

The Los Angeles-based litigation shop reported that profits per partner hit the $3 million mark last year — a height surpassed by only three firms on the Am Law 100 list for 2006.

“That’s Wachtell country,” said Ronald Beard, a law firm consultant with the Zeughauser Group, referring to the highly profitable New York deal shop Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz.

Managing partner John Quinn offered a rebuttal to the bonus complaints:

The financial results didn’t prevent some associates from complaining about their bonuses. Legal blog Above the Law reported griping that the firm unexpectedly drew the line for full year-end bonuses at 2,100 hours, 100 hours more than the previous year.

Quinn said that decisions about bonuses are made at the end of the year, not beforehand, and that 2,100 was “not necessarily” a bright line. He added that Quinn associates were given a special bonus this year on top of the normal ones, matching a move made by only a few elite New York firms.

“If [Quinn associates] are not the most highly paid, they’re among the most highly paid in the country,” Quinn said. “Any suggestion that the firm has done really, really well and the associates haven’t shared is false.”

We have a rebuttal to the rebuttal from a disgruntled associate. Check it out — but caveat lector, this tipster may have an ax to grind — after the jump.
Update: Note the many defenders of the firm in the comments. Not all associates are whiny bee-atches!
2. Susan Estrich is in da house. Quinn seems to have a weakness for high-powered litigatrices. Already home to former Stanford Law dean Kathleen Sullivan, the firm just added Susan Estrich, who joins as Of Counsel in the Los Angeles office. From one associate:

Susan Estrich just joined our firm. Classic.

Now when I watch Fox News at home, I’ll hear plugs of work.

3. Retention bonuses: We’re looking into reports of retention bonuses in the high five-figures, which vest in 18 months. In light of the dissatisfaction in the ranks, retention bonuses may be just what the doctor ordered.
Quinn Partner Profits Clear $3 Million [The Recorder via]
Earlier: Associate Bonus Watch: A Few More Updates

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “News that Quinn Emanuel Associates Are Sure To Love”

David Burcham Dean David W Burcham Loyola Law School Above the Law blog.jpgIn a front-page Wall Street Journal article last year, Dean David Burcham of Loyola Law School expressed a desire to help Loyola 2L with his job search. And it seems that Dean Burcham, himself a Loyola alum, has no shortage of job opportunities. From a just-issued press release:

After eight years at Loyola Law School Los Angeles as the Fritz B. Burns dean and senior vice president, David W. Burcham was named today to the newly created position of executive vice president and provost of Loyola Marymount University. Victor J. Gold, a veteran law professor and a former associate dean, was named interim dean and senior vice president. A national search for a permanent dean will begin immediately.

Eager to entertain complaints from non-top-tier law school graduates about their grim job prospects? This job’s for you. Remember, Loyola 2L hasn’t graduated yet.
Meanwhile, in other non-elite law school dean news, the Orlando Sentinel has this report:

Florida A&M University’s new law school dean was scheduled to start work at the school’s Orlando campus next Monday.

But after a series of phone calls, LeRoy Pernell altered his plans and showed up Thursday to meet twice with students who are upset about grading policies, course offerings and accreditation. He plans a third meeting with night students next week.

“It’s my intention as dean to really be available,” said Pernell, speaking to the more than 100 students who gathered for Thursday’s afternoon session.

How long will this last? In a few weeks, will Dean Pernell barricade himself in his office, with his secretary dumping a cauldron of hot water on the students below?
Update: It seems that our round-up of Tier 2 Law School Dean news is incomplete:

No one wants to hear about Florida A&M (didn’t even knew it existed). How about some love for the Jesuits? Creighton just named a new dean. Press release here.

The press release refers to him as “Eric A. Chiappinelli, J.D.” It helps for your law school dean to have a law degree.
Dean David W. Burcham Named Provost of Loyola Marymount University (press release) []
FAMU dean reassures law students [Orlando Sentinel]
Creighton School of Law Names New Dean [Creighton University School of Law]

If you’re not already a member of Lateral Link, you can sign up through their website. Membership, which is free and confidential, allows you to learn about new legal opportunities as they become available. Successfully placed candidates receive a $10,000 placement bonus.
Positions: In-House Counsel – Real Estate, In-House Counsel – Corporate
Location: Newton, Massachusetts
Position Descriptions:
Corporate: Seeking a transactional attorney with four or more years of large law firm experience. Corporate, securities, finance/project finance or energy experience is a plus but not a requirement. Public company experience and SarbOx also a plus but not a requirement. The candidate must be comfortable working in a relatively unstructured environment and will be expected to handle day-to-day tasks while reporting to GC on larger issues. This person will work primarily with the GC and the finance team. The candidate must be able to work in a fast-paced environment and be able to handle multiple demands and transactions. The Company is growing quickly and it is a very dynamic workplace; the ideal candidate must be able to accommodate change relatively quickly.
Real Estate: Seeking candidate with four or more years of transactional real estate experience. The ideal candidate has experience with lenders and equity investors, can identify and resolve title issues, and can review real estate documents (including project leases, easements, crossing agreements, commercial leases). This candidate would be responsible for working with developers on land acquisitions for Company projects and would work with the GC, Assistant GC and the finance team on resolving issues and getting projects financed. The candidate must be able to work in a fast-paced environment and be able to handle multiple demands and transactions. The Company is growing quickly and it is a very dynamic workplace; therefore the ideal candidate must be able to accommodate change relatively quickly. The candidate needs to have good communication and interpersonal skills, as they will be dealing with rural landowners and employees inside the company.
Company Description: This privately held company is a leader in wind power production, with more than 40 wind farms in development across the country. Based in Newton, Massachusetts, the company is focused on wind farm development, ownership and operation. The company builds primarily in the Northeast, West and Hawaii, and is already producing nearly 100 MW of energy through three operational wind farms. The company is currently developing more than 3,500 MW of wind power projects in several markets through various subsidiary companies. The company is managed and supported by a team of more than 100 talented and dedicated individuals committed to the company’s environment.
For more information, see job # 7661 and job # 7662 on Lateral Link.
Earlier: Prior Job of the Week listings (scroll down)

Colleen Hartl Judge Colleen Hartl Above the Law blog.jpgMunicipal court is not exactly the pinnacle of judicial office. But we think that Colleen Hartl, until recently a (rather attractive) municipal court judge in Washington state, is still a worthy Judge of the Day. From the AP:

A Federal Way [that's a WA city name] Municipal Court judge has resigned after hosting a holiday party at which she claimed to be having an affair with a public defender who routinely appeared in her court.

Judge Colleen Hartl quit Dec. 19, less than a week after telling her guests — including five court employees — that she had sex with public defender Sean Cecil and displaying a text message in which he complimented how she looked in “tight jeans,” Michael Morgan, the court’s presiding judge, said Wednesday.

So she’s proud about how good her butt looks in tight jeans. What’s so wrong with that?

Even after admitting the affair at the Friday night party, Hartl showed up for work the next Monday morning and presided over several cases handled by Cecil, Morgan said. At lunchtime that day, Morgan — who attended the party but left before Hartl’s admission — was advised of the relationship by a court staff member who witnessed the statement. Morgan suggested that Hartl not sit on any cases that afternoon, and she resigned two days later.

Judge Hartl, we like your style.
Update: More here from Federal Way News.
Federal Way judge quits; talked of affair with lawyer [Seattle Post-Intelligencer]
Affair with lawyer linked to judge’s resignation [Federal Way News]

* The surest way to avoid being wiretapped: Don’t pay your Wait for the FBI not to pay its phone bill. [Washington Post]
* In this gloomy economy, at least someone is still shopping. B of A picks up Countrywide Financial — and maybe its lawsuits, too. [Bank of America (press release) via WSJ Law Blog]
* Contentious sentencing for Jose Padilla. [Christian Science Monitor via How Appealing]
* Canada to the gays: we don’t want your orgrans. But your fashion and cooking tips are still welcome. [Toronto Star via A Stitch in Haste]
* Earlier this week, our former boss did battle with She Who Must Not Be Named. He won this round, but it may just be the beginning.[How Appealing]
P.S. A correction / addendum to yesterday’s Morning Docket, which mentioned that the DOJ is looking at how independent monitoring contracts are awarded. According to the Department, “[t]hese discussions were not prompted by United States Attorney Chris Christie’s selection of Attorney General John Ashcroft as a monitor. There is no inquiry into that selection.”
The DOJ’s full statement appears after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Morning Docket: 01.11.08″

Tonight’s ATL / Lateral Link survey explores the complex interplay between billable hours, pro bono, and sweet, sweet bonuses.
[Update: This survey is now closed. Read some of the results after the jump.]
Also, a quick note about this month’s who’s your favorite blawg other than ATL survey, which is still open. So far, the Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog is way out in front. We’re also very gratified that so many of you answered “What do you mean ‘Other Than Above The Law’???”, making us your second choice for second-favorite blog after… ourselves.
A tip of the hat and bang of the gavel to taxgirl, TaxProf Blog, Balkinization and Ms. JD for their successful write-in campaigns. You’re all in the survey now.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Featured Job Survey: Billables, Pro Bono and Bonuses”

Hillary The Movie Above the Law blog.jpg* Actually, Judge Lamberth, calling a presidential candidate as “a European socialist” constitutes an endorsement — at least at most American law schools. [AP via WSJ Law Blog]

* News you can use: under the “Free File” program, opening tomorrow, the IRS and its private-sector partners will provide free tax preparation and electronic filing services to qualifying taxpayers (AGI of $54,000 or less — sorry, Biglaw denizens). [TaxProf Blog]

* The law school essay question: an unrecognized art form? [PrawfsBlawg]

* Practice pointer: don’t “recreate” correspondence to use as evidence in your case. Dramatic reenactments belong on television, not in court. [Feminist Law Professors]

* We just got called “the Matt Drudge of the legal world.” Our thanks to Neil Squillante for making our day. Now where did we put our animated siren GIF? [TechnoLawyer]

Cadwalader Wickersham Taft CWT Abovethelaw Above the Law legal tabloid blog.JPGWe’re stepping away for a bit. Before we go, we wanted to provide you with the latest Cadwalader layoff news, verified by sources at the firm:

1. The 35 associates who were laid off were given 3 months severance, medical/dental through this year, bonuses (if they met the hours requirements), and outsourcing services.

2. The laid-off associates were in Capital Markets and Global Finance.

3. About 20 to 25 associates in the affected departments were moved to non-affected departments (including more than half of the first-year associates in Global Finance).

4. Six first-year Global Finance associates were permanently moved to Litigation (but these were the associates who had already been on document review since arriving in September).

5. Regular and special bonuses will be paid to all associates consistent with CWT’s competitors. An official announcement is forthcoming; look for it in the next few days.

As for the rumors about layoffs at other firms that have been flying around, we’re looking into them. We don’t have anything concrete and confirmed just yet.
We need your help. If you have firsthand information (we have enough secondhand stuff already) — i.e., you are at a firm that you know is doing layoffs — please email us (especially once you get home from work, and don’t have to worry about your email being monitored). Thanks.
UPDATE: Earlier today, CWT sent out an email of reassurance to 2007 summer associates who accepted offers. We reprint the email after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide Layoff Watch: The Latest Cadwalader News
(And a Request for Layoff News from Other Firms)”

If you’re an associate at Dewey & LeBoeuf, leave your brown shirt at home tomorrow. Just bring a $5 donation — sure, you can afford it, your bonuses were good — and participate in Denim Day!
Dewey LeBoeuf LLP Denim Day jeans Above the Law blog.jpg
It’s for a good cause. And it beats the pants (hehe) off Hot Cocoa Day at Skadden.
After the jump, the invitation to the Denim Day Associate Happy Hour. Very snazzy — props to the paralegal or ALS person who was tasked with preparing it.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “A Cheery Counterweight to Layoff Talk: Denim Day at Dewey & LeBoeuf!”

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