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Simpson Thacher Bartlett LLP Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgWe recently started a discussion about maternity leave policies at large law firms. Shortly thereafter, one such firm — Simpson Thacher & Bartlett — made changes to its maternity leave policy.
From a tipster (and confirmed for us by James Cross, co-chair of the firm’s personnel committee):

Simpson just announced a 50% increase in the paid time off for maternity leave (increased from the standard 12 weeks paid to 18 weeks paid portion of the 6 month maternity leave policy) in addition to other family/work/life balance benefits. I know it’s not as exciting and sexy as salary increases, but as quite a few of us women are associates these days, this would make a significant difference to me when selecting a law firm.

Also, since we started the last bump in raises, it may cause a ripple effect in the benefits arena across true top tier law firms. Perhaps even a pre-cursor to another salary bump.

Very nice! We applaud Simpson for taking this step, and encourage other large law firms to follow suit.
Update: On the subject of paternity leave, an STB source tells us: “As far as I know it’s consistent with what is posted on our website for recruiting: 4 weeks paid (and 12 weeks unpaid) paternity leave. I do not believe this has changed.”
Earlier: Biglaw Perk Watch: Maternity Leave and Paternity Leave

Edward Nottingham Judge Edward W Nottingham Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgAs many of you know, we’re guilty of federal judicial snobbery here at ATL. We frequently mock state court judges, whom we regard as “icky,” and contrast their regular misadventures — ethical lapses, brushes with the law, messy personal lives — with the generally upright lives of their counterparts on the federal bench.
But federal judges are people too — people who get themselves into highly embarrassing situations. From Colorado’s

Court documents obtained by 9Wants to Know show Colorado’s top federal judge was too drunk to remember how he spent more than $3,000 at a strip club in two consecutive days. He also used an Internet dating service while he was married.

Judge Edward Nottingham is the chief federal judge in Colorado and he is held to the highest standards of personal and professional conduct.

Umm, yeah, this story is all kinds of awesome. Some of Judge Nottingham’s conduct would make a drunken summer associate blush.
More after the jump.

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Troutman Sanders LLP Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgThe dominoes are falling in Atlanta. Last night, Troutman Sanders made its associate pay raise announcement.
From the Fulton County Daily Report:

Troutman Sanders raised associate pay $15,000 across the board in its Atlanta, Washington, Virginia and North Carolina offices Thursday, with the starting salary going from $130,000 to $145,000.

The firm’s managing partner, Robert W. Webb Jr., announced the pay increase to associates at 5 p.m. Thursday.

The raises are effective Jan. 1, 2008, the same date the pay raise that Alston & Bird announced to its Atlanta associates last week goes into effect. Earlier this week, King & Spalding matched Alston’s $15,000 increase in starting pay, also effective Jan. 1, but did not raise pay for more senior associates.

Correction: According to a source at the firm, as well as various commenters, “Troutman’s DC and Tysons Corner offices have starting salaries of $160K as a result of the increase. (Troutman’s Atlanta office is starting at $145K).”
What’s most noteworthy about this raise, as pointed out to us by several tipsters, is that it’s “across the board” — not just for first- or second-year associates. In Atlanta, where salary compression for more senior associates is a serious issue, an across-the-board raise of $15,000 is good news indeed. It’s better than what has been announced thus far by Alston & Bird and King & Spalding.
More discussion, after the jump.

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* Ex-astronaut Lisa Nowak wants her ankle bracelet removed. She has no complaints about the diaper. [New York Times]
* Say what? The DOJ will pay $150K for me and a friend to surf the web for porn? [New York Times]
* Roel Campos is cashing in his chips. He’s leaving the SEC for a partnership at Cooley Godward Kronish. [Washington Post]
* The Maher Arar rendition and torture case: blame Canada? [New York Times]
* Congratulations, Gitmo detainees: you’re now “enemy combatants.” [Washington Post]
* “[H]ere’s a little unsolicited career advice for Loyola 2L.” [WSJ Law Blog]

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver Hedges clerkship bonus Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgClerkship bonus announcements continue to roll in. Here’s the latest:

Quinn Emanuel’s website confirms that they have finally increased their clerkship bonus to $50,000.

My understanding is that other prestigious California litigation shops, like Keker and Munger, are still stuck at $35,000. You would make my day if you called them to confirm this (and thereby applied a little pressure).

Sorry, tipster. As we previously mentioned, we no longer conduct affirmative outreach to law firms about their clerkship bonuses, after receiving abuse rather than gratitude for past efforts on that front.
(But we might reconsider if, say, enough people made (tax-deductible) charitable donations to support us in the New York marathon this year. We need to raise $1,250 by early next month. Contributions — did we mention they’re tax-deductible? — can be made through our fundraising page.)

chart stock market plunge Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.gif* Lawyer opinions solicited: Is this an effective ad for malpractice insurance? [Copyranter]
* Another ugly day for the stock market. [Volokh Conspiracy]
* On that subject: Is the vast family fortune of Rachel Kovner, ATL’s official It girl, in jeopardy — as recently rumored by our sibling site? Not exactly. But if Bruce Kovner’s legendary fund is up only 3 percent year-to-date, things could certainly be better. [DealBreaker]
* What? The iPhone is not God’s greatest gift to man? Bite your tongue! [Althouse]
* Ignoring a handslap will get you a benchslap. See page 15, footnote 7. [U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (PDF)]

new jersey small strong survive above the law atl.JPGTime for a quick shout-out to our home state. From the New Jersey Law Journal:

It used to be that salaries for first-year associates at large firms remained intact for the year. No more.

Increasing pressures to match the pay offered elsewhere have impelled some New Jersey firms to a midyear hike, a sampling of large New Jersey law offices shows. (See chart.)

Day Pitney in Florham Park announced on July 27 it would increase first-year salaries to $135,000 in January 2008, a jump of $15,000.

Lerner, David, Littenberg, Krumholz & Mentlik in Westfield decided on July 1 to boost first-year salaries by $10,000, to $140,000, starting in January.

Lerner David’s pay level equals that of Lowenstein Sandler of Roseland as the highest among firms whose main office is in New Jersey. Lowenstein announced in June that first-year pay would increase to $140,000 in January, $15,000 above the level originally set earlier in the year….

Additional data points appear in the full article.
Large New Jersey Firms Approve Midyear Pay Hikes for Associates [New Jersey Law Journal]

Hank Adorno Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgActually, this is a two-for-one. We can also get a Benchslap of the Day out of this item. From the Miami Herald:

Prominent attorney Hank Adorno — already under Florida Bar investigation for his role in Miami’s fire-fee scandal — on Wednesday was blasted by the Third District Court of Appeal for what the judges called his ”reprehensible conduct” in the now infamous case.

In a unanimous opinion that upheld a lower-court decision invalidating Miami’s $7 million fire-fee settlement with just seven people, the appeals court ripped into Adorno, who had represented the so-called ”lucky seven.” The Adorno & Yoss firm stood to earn a $2 million share of the $7 million payout, while some 80,000 taxpayers got nothing.

Huh? How did that almost come to pass?
More discussion, plus the benchslap-worthy language from the court’s opinion, after the jump.

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Raed Jarrar ACLU T-shirt Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgSome fashion advice for Arab-Americans traveling by plane: leave the Arabic-slogan t-shirts at home.
Unless you want to become the plaintiff in an ACLU lawsuit. Consider this recently filed case:

The American Civil Liberties Union and New York Civil Liberties Union today filed a federal civil rights lawsuit charging that a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) official and JetBlue Airways illegally discriminated against an American resident based solely on the Arabic message on his t-shirt and his ethnicity.

JetBlue and the TSA official, identified as “Inspector Harris,” would not let Raed Jarrar board his flight at John F. Kennedy Airport until he agreed to cover his t-shirt, which read “We Will Not Be Silent” in English and Arabic script.

According to the complaint, Harris told Jarrar that it is impermissible to wear an Arabic shirt to an airport and equated it to a “person wearing a t-shirt at a bank stating, ‘I am a robber.’”

Oy. Gotta love those enlightened TSA officials. Should Jarrar have worn a burqa instead?
Okay, seriously — if Raed Jarrar were a terrorist intent on wreaking havoc, would he really have worn such a t-shirt on to an airplane? Isn’t that just a recipe for extra-special scrutiny from the federal air marshal?
(On the other hand, perhaps one could argue, under a “reverse psychology” rubric, that a terrorist might don such a t-shirt because everyone would think: “Only the most dumb-ass terrorist would call attention to himself with his outfit!”)
ACLU Sues TSA Official, JetBlue for Discriminating Against Passenger Wearing Arabic T-Shirt [American Civil Liberties Union]
“We Will Not Be Silent” [ACLU (lawsuit homepage)]
The Airline Screening Playset: Hours of Fun! [Concurring Opinions]
After 5 Years In U.S., Terrorist Cell Too Complacent To Carry Out Attack [The Onion]

LEWW logo.jpgHere it is: the breathlessly anticipated SCOTUS Smackdown! To be precise, we should note that not all of our July couples featured a Supreme Court clerk. But Gelman-Bash (Scalia), Ingber-Metlitsky (Roberts), and Bernstein-Foster (Kennedy) are all Elect-able pairings. We can’t wait to see who gets to strut around One First Street with ATL’s coveted Couple of the Month crown!
Vote for your favorite (or least un-favorite) Justice, vote for the best picture, or vote against the Elect by picking DeLeonardo-Frey or Goldfein-Holden — just vote! Click on the link below for recaps on each couple.
When you’re ready to make your choice, here’s the poll:

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Legal Eagle Wedding Watch: Vote for July’s Couple of the Month!”

K&L Gates Kirkpatrick Lockhart Preston Gates Ellis Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgThis rumor has been around for a while, but we wanted to wait until it was official. Now it is (as of twenty minutes ago):

From: Miller, Charles
Sent: Thursday, August 09, 2007 1:31 PM
Cc: Kalis, Peter; Fried, Susan V.; Graner, Glenn; Carson, Rodney E.
Subject: New DC Associate Salaries

All: This will confirm the new DC associate salary ranges that we discussed at the associates’ lunch today:

1st years — $160K
2nd years — $170K
3rd years — $185K
4th years — $200K/205K/210K
5th years — $205K/215K/225K
6th years — $210K/225K/240K
7th years — $215K/230K/250K
8th years — $220K/240K/260K

These changes should be reflected starting 9/1/07 in the paycheck that you receive on 9/15/07. Please let me know if you have any questions.

– Chuck

Oh, in case you’re wondering, the salary “tiering” is apparently based on quantity (of billable hours) and quality (of work).

Chambermaid 2 Saira Rao Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpg(And if you’re REALLY good, we’ll reward you with more Nina Totenberg stories. Ask and you shall receive!)
Another day, another blog post about Chambermaid, the controversial clerkship novel by lawyer-turned-writer Saira Rao. The latest post is by Professor Scott Burris, who clerked for Third Circuit Judge Dolores K. Sloviter — Rao’s former boss, widely rumored to be the basis for the central villain of Chambermaid, the tyrannical Judge Helga Friedman.
But Burris — unlike, say, fellow law prof and ex-Sloviter clerk Mike Rappaport — takes issue with the scuttlebutt equating Sloviter and Friedman:

What I really object to in the whole affair is the way Rao and some of her blogging readers have negotiated the delicate question of Judge Friedman’s correspondence with Judge Sloviter, and the rationale offered in several quarters for “outing” mean judicial bosses….

Aside from a couple of tics, Helga Friendman is not a portrait, nor even a recognizable caricature, of Dolores Sloviter. Hell, I didn’t even recognize Rao’s Center City Philadelphia.

Additional discussion — if this issue doesn’t interest you, just stop reading here — appears after the jump.

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