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100 dollar bill Above the Law Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPGWe tend to emphasize Biglaw over the in-house world here at ATL. When we do talk about in-house lawyers, it’s often in the context of their complaining about the legal bills they get from large law firms — and how much first- and second-year associates earn these days, despite being short on knowledge and experience.
But don’t shed tears for chief legal officers, general counsels, and the in-house lawyers who work under them. As shown in our latest batch of survey results, they’re very happy with their jobs.
Part of that happiness may stem from their compensation. Check out this Inside Counsel report (PDF) on in-house compensation, or this Legal Blog Watch summary of the report. While they may make less than their counterparts in large law firms, they’re still doing very well for themselves.
For GCs’ Salaries, Survey Says: Ka-ching! [Legal Blog Watch]
Payday: How does your compensation compare? [InsideCounsel]
Payday: Full Report (PDF) [Inside Counsel]
Earlier: Featured Job Survey: Does the In-House Always Win?

associate bonus watch 2007 law firm Above the Law blog.jpgThe powers-that-be at Mayer Brown have made their decisions on bonus and salary adjustments, as announced in an email last night. And it appears that they’ve taken a page from the Dechert playbook, according to one associate:

“The second paragraph [of the memo] is a shock. We were never informed of financial ramifications for failing to enter our time.”

It might be slightly annoying, but it’s the growing trend. Expect more firms to adopt policies that tie compensation to timely time entry. Email exhortations without financial consequences don’t seem to be very effective.
(And it’s arguably not that big an imposition. You already slave away at the firm for ten or twelve hours a day — so what’s another five minutes at the end, to enter your time before heading home? It’s just a matter of getting into the habit of doing it, instead of letting a backlog build up.)
The Mayer Brown memo, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: Mayer Brown Announces
(And penalizes associates for delinquent time entry.)”

We received 1,062 responses to our ATL / Lateral Link survey on in-house aspirations.
As shown in the charts below, over half of associates are satisfied or even “very satisfied” with their current positions, but about half would still like to go in-house.
Associate Responses: Are You Satisfied With Your Current Job?
Associate Responses: Would You Like To Go In-House?
Find out why and where associates want to move, and what in-house counsel are thinking themselves, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Featured Job Survey: Does the In-House Always Win?”

Sports and the Law 3 Above the Law blog.jpgUntil recently, fans were limited in their ability to become involved in the business side of sports. Now, however, three businesses are bringing fans a tad closer: (1) a soon-to-be launched, publicly owned professional football league known as the UFL; (2) a democratically run British soccer club called Ebbsfield United FC; and (3) an Internet-based business that sells future interests in the earnings of minor league baseball players.
UFL Public Offering
The story of fan ownership in pro sports inevitably begins with a New York Times article that ran last summer, announcing that financier Bill Hambrecht and Google executive Tim Armstrong were planning to launch a new publicly owned professional football league called the UFL. The UFL is slated to begin play in August 2008 with eight teams, each owned 50 percent by wealthy investors and 50 percent by public shareholders. A date for the initial public offering (“IPO”) is still pending.
The UFL is in the process of choosing its host cities, and it is doing so in an interesting way. With help from an online ticketing partner, prospective customers currently may purchase seating options in thirteen different cities. Whichever eight of these cities sells the most options will land the league’s first franchises.
Column continues, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Sports and the Law: Three New Opportunities for Fans to Invest in Sports”

* DNC accuses Sen. McCain of election law violations. [CNN; Washington Post]
* “Vista capable” class action certified. [MSNBC]
* EA makes $2B bid for Grand Theft Auto’s Take-Two; execs respond by lighting street fires and shooting at cars. [New York Times]
* Exxon Valdez case finally reaches SCOTUS, potentially turning on obscure piracy law. [Washington Post]
* Security experts trace criminal ninja hackers. [cnet]

Hans Smit mansion small Above the Law blog.jpg* “Like to Golf? San Diego Law Firm Seeks Associate Rainmakers.” Maybe the associate who can lift 25 pounds can be your caddy. [ABA Journal]
* Columbia law professor Hans Smit, whose Manhattan mansion we have covered extensively in these pages, turns down a $20 million offer for the property (which he bought for $325,000, back in 1979). [ (scroll down to last item)]
* Not getting a “World’s Greatest Kid” mug: “Our son hired a hit man to kill us.” [ABC News]
* Request for submissions: “Most Screwed Victims in Caselaw History.” [PrawfsBlawg]

Seyfarth Shaw LLP logo AboveTheLaw Above the Law legal blog.jpgA quick update on yesterday’s post about Seyfarth Shaw. A source there tells us:

Here are the “official” numbers for Seyfarth NYC and “Others,” excluding Atlanta (no idea where they are — presumably lower). Great for the mid/upper classes, but no so great for 1st-2nd years. Some grumbling also from income partners since they don’t get paid a whole lot more than a senior associate and have to deal with all the administrative headaches associated with income partner status.

For those of you who are interested, the salary ranges appear after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide Pay Raise Watch: A Little More on Seyfarth Shaw”

One nice thing about unpublished or non-precedential opinions is that judges feel free to have fun when writing them. When your words aren’t going to be memorialized in the august pages of F.3d or F. Supp. 2d, you can take some stylistic liberties.
A source drew our attention to Vitaich v. City of Chicago, No. 94 C 692, 1995 U.S. Dist LEXIS 11804, at * 3-4 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 16, 1995), a colorful unpublished decision by Judge David H. Coar (N.D. Ill.). Here’s a squib from the recitation of the facts:

Even though plaintiffs have filed a total of three complaints, the essential facts do not vary. They allege the following: plaintiffs had been throwing down a few cool ones at a neighborhood watering hole euphemistically named, “The Great Beer Palace.” Around the witching hour our two princes crossed the threshold of the establishment into the moonless night. The princes and the palace’s draughtsman exchanged vulgar calumnies as they left. Of a sudden, the princes were set upon by the three of the Dreaded Wearers of the Blue [i.e., police officers] known commonly as Cole, Ignowski, and Ogliore. The princes suffered unmentionable tortures at the hands of these rabid beasts. Prince Vitaich attempted to escape on his trusty steed “Harley” but a masked Blue Wearer felled the steed, trapping Sir Vitaich (of Virginia) under it and causing him great pain and anguish. The princes shouted for a paladin or a shire reeve to aide them in their distress, but what great irony upon their discovery that the very Wearers of the Blue were the self-same Defenders of Justice they had summoned, like an invocation gone awry. Oh cruel fate. “We are the defenders of the land of stinking onions whom you seek!” they cried. With that, they vanished into the night, their laughter echoing through the deserted appia on the Avenue of Lincoln. By such a tortuous troubled path have come our wounded princes to this High Court by sealed writ, calling the Wearers of the Blue and the hamlet that gives them succor to task for invading the rights set down by the Tapestry of Edicts known as the Constitution. (citations omitted).

If you go in for a clerkship interview with Judge Coar, bring your 20-sided dice.

associate bonus watch 2007 law firm Above the Law blog.jpgHere’s some follow-up on last week’s post about bonuses at Heller Ehrman. We don’t mean to pick on them, but we have talkative sources over there, it’s been a slow day (even setting aside earlier technical difficulties that took the site offline for a while), and this is what we happen to have in the hopper.
A tipster tells us:

[T]he big news from [last week's] meeting was the news that the firm will not be departing in any way from the bonus memo that was put out at the time of Heller’s non-raise last summer (click here (PDF)). In other words, a class of 2002 associate with over 2400 hours last year is guaranteed only $45,500 — approximately $55k less than s/he would have received for billing 2100 hours down the street at Quinn.

After last month’s news that MoFo (which had announced a very similar non-raise and bonus structure) was upping everyone’s bonus by $10k-$20k, the associates here were hopeful (and basically expected) that Heller would do the same; the firm always claims that it doesn’t pay attention to what NY firms or LA firms do (without giving any good explanation, given that it has more associates in those two offices (combined) than it does in SF), and generally names Orrick and MoFo as the firms it looks at as “peers” — though it notably stopped mentioning Orrick as soon as Orrick raised without slashing bonuses last summer. It’s unclear who the firm now sees as its “peers,” since I don’t know of any AmLaw 100 firms that pay as little as Heller does.

The firm will likely respond to this discontent, if at all, by trotting out its old schtick about how its “culture” is so different from that of law firms that pay more. This may have been true 10 years ago, and is undoubtedly still true if you’re comparing it to, say, Skadden. But this place is no different than Orrick or MoFo or Latham in terms of how associates spend their time (and how much of it they spend), and how they’re treated. I can’t think of any reason I could legitimately give to a law student of why they should come here if they had offers from these other CA firms; I certainly would choose differently if I were a 2L now. Expect increased lateral departures, regardless of what the firm says it will do for bonuses next year.

Earlier: Associate Bonus Watch: Heller Ehrman

Job of the Week

Here is today’s ATL / Lateral Link Job of the Week. In 2007, Lateral Link secured attorneys offers at more than half of the Vault Top 100 firms and numerous corporations and funds.
Position: Senior Vice President and Counsel
Location: Orange County, California
Description: Investment firm focused on growth companies in both the US and in Asia is seeking a Senior Vice President/Counsel. Firm has offices in both Newport Beach, CA and Hong Kong, and manages both public and private investments through various portfolios in both jurisdictions.
Duties will include:
* Oversee legal structure of the firm and monitor investment advisor regulations.
* Draft basic legal documents, including term sheets and letters of intent/memorandums of understanding.
* Set up US investment vehicles.
* Liaise with HK outside counsel on setting up foreign investment vehicles and with China based transactions.
* Negotiate investment subscriptions with clients.
Position Requirements:
• Mid-senior level associate with transactional, investment management and securities experience
• The position is based in Newport Beach or Los Angeles (company prefers if candidate can work from Newport Beach Office several days a week)
• Flexibility to travel between LA and Hong Kong every 5 to 6 weeks (and more frequently depending on needs)
• Compensation will be based on candidate experience but will include base salary, bonus, and a comprehensive benefits package
Company Description: This investment firm is focused on growth companies in both the US and in Asia is seeking Senior Vice President/Counsel. The firm has offices in both Newport Beach, CA and Hong Kong, and manages both public and private investments through various portfolios in both jurisdictions.
For more information, see job # 8063 on Lateral Link.
Earlier: Prior Job of the Week listings (scroll down)

Thacher Proffitt Wood LLP Above the Law blog.jpgThis morning we’ve been hearing rumors of associate layoffs at Thacher Proffitt & Wood. As you may recall from ATL’s prior coverage (scroll down), TPW has reduced its ranks over the past few months, through voluntary departures. But those departures took place after the firm warned that it might have to resort to layoffs.
Apparently something went down at the firm yesterday afternoon. Some sources characterized what happened as layoffs, with affected associates given until May to leave. But we contacted the firm, which denied the rumors and issued this statement:

Thacher Proffitt has not done layoffs. We have increased our efforts to provide associates with outplacement in practice areas that have been most affected by current market conditions.

We take the firm at its word; they’ve been pretty candid in the past about their personnel decisions and how they’ve been affected by the credit crunch. If you have the inside scoop on what took place yesterday, please email us. Thanks.

lolcat arbitration lolcat Above the Law blog.jpgHere’s some interesting follow-up to yesterday’s post about the new mandatory arbitration policy that Kirkland & Ellis has imposed upon its associates. From Karen Donovan, over at

There have been many stories about how the big law firms coddle associates with lush perks and big bonuses. Now there is some tough love. Kirkland & Ellis has sent a memo to its associates informing that should there be a dispute with their employer that cannot be resolved internally, they will have to go arbitration, rather than court.

The new policy, first reported by David Lat of the blog, asks employees to hit the “acknowledge” tab on this e-mail by March 3.

If you’re a K&E associate hoping to escape the clutches of the new policy, good luck (unless you’re in California):

“Continued employment in most states is adequate compensation for an arbitration procedure,” says Michael Casey III, a Miami partner with Epstein Becker & Green, a law firm that specializes in employment and labor issues. Casey has advised a number of firms to put mandatory arbitration policies in to place. He says a number of big law firms have them, but he declined to name names.

There’s still hope for those Kirkland associates who toil in the firm’s Los Angeles and San Francisco offices. A decision from the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit struck down a mandatory arbitration policy at O’Melveny & Myers. The Ninth Circuit has generally found “these are contracts of adhesion or unconscionable,” says Gary Friedman, an employment partner with Weil, Gotshal & Manges. But Friedman says arbitration agreements are “still relative rarities” in the world of law firms.

K&E itself stayed mum on the subject: “‘We don’t comment about employment matters,’ says Jay Lefkowitz, a New York partner on the firm’s global management committee.”
No Court for These Lawyers [Portfolio]
Earlier: Kirkland & Ellis: We Love Minorities! (But don’t dare take us to court if you are one. Instead, please sign our mandatory arbitration policy. Thanks!)

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