We’ve been doing a lot of Biglaw coverage lately. But since Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is being raked over the coals as we type, in an appearance before the House Judiciary Committee, let’s take a timely detour into the U.S. Department of Justice.
The DOJ isn’t looking terribly competent right now. And this latest story won’t burnish their reputation. From a tipster:
As you know, the Justice Department produced a number of documents to Congress, concerning the controversial U.S. Attorney firings. These document productions have not been huge — maybe just a few thousand pages. Nothing like what you see in major commercial litigation.
One such document production showed up on Capitol Hill, in four sets: two sets for the Senate Judiciary Committee (Democrats and Republicans), and two sets for the House Judiciary Committee (Democrats and Republicans). The production arrived on a weekday evening.
A Republican staffer immediately started looking through the production. The staffer noticed that the produced documents didn’t have Bates stamps on them. Oops. Guess the DOJ forgot to have them stamped — a screw-up, although not a cardinal sin.
A few pages later, the staffer noticed something else, on a document with redactions on it. There was redacting tape that was STILL ON THE DOCUMENT. One could access the redacted, privileged material simply by peeling off the tape.
Holy crap. Instead of sending over Bates-stamped photocopies, the DOJ had produced its ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS to the Congress.
Nice. Apparently the Justice Department is less competent than a second-year litigation associate: they can’t do a proper document production.
It gets worse. More after the jump.
In yesterday’s post about Cravath, Swaine & Moore starting up a bankruptcy department, to be launched by lateral hire Richard Levin (from Skadden), we wrote:
Cravath isn’t big on lateral hiring. When they hired tax lawyer Andrew Needham away from Willkie Farr & Gallagher in 2005, he was their first lateral partner in more than six decades (per Wikipedia).
Nor has Cravath been into bankruptcy work. Even though many other white-shoe firms have entered that historically “icky” practice area, CSM has stayed on the sidelines.
The statement that Cravath has avoided bankruptcy work was in error. From a knowledgeable tipster:
I want to correct your assertion that Cravath has traditionally stayed away from bankruptcy. Cravath historically has been very involved with bankruptcy and insolvency — Paul Cravath himself was the leading railroad insolvency lawyer of his generation, helping JPMorgan and the like swindle railroad bondholders out of billions.
For the bankruptcy geeks among you, our source schools us further, after the jump.
* Inmate’s last request: pizza for homeless. [CNN]
* Iraqi death row inmate claims innocence, confession by torture.[CNN]
* Brit convicted for leaking secret Bush-Blair memo. [AP]
* AG Gonzales feels he has weathered the Attorneygate storm… [New York Times]
* … Meanwhile, another US Attorney firing is revealed. [Washington Post]
“In an effort to uphold the rule that the Masters of the Universe can pretty much get away with anything simply because they’re the Masters of the Universe (see, also: Jobs, backdating), a federal judge has ruled that Goldman cannot be included in a lawsuit by Fannie Mae shareholders.”
“[T]he SEC filed a lawsuit against a Hong Kong couple, Kan King Wong and Charlotte Ka On Wong Leung, accusing them of insider trading. The couple had purchased $15 million of Dow Jones shares prior to the May 1st announcement.”
They liquidated the position after News Corp.’s unsolicited offer to boy Dow Jones, for a tidy profit of $8.2 million. More details here.
3. In the Future of a Defamation Lawsuit, Dimon Is the Law. Here’s a teaser, concerning the lawsuits that are flying between Dow Chemical and a former executive and board member: “It’s the legal equivalent of a John Woo action scene.”
You can check out the full post here.
* Like an aging babyboomer, L&O might be spending its golden years with its progeny… at TNT. Loyal fans, you will always find L&O-related news here. (And when I say “here”, I mean in Non-Sequiturs, because Lat does what he wants.) [Los Angeles Times]
* Oops, they f**ked up. (And when I say “they”, I mean both Ashley’s parents and the hospital.) [WFSB]
* JDs (or passing the bar) not required. [Sports Law Blog]
* Victory for teachers, held not legally required to baselessly bolster students’ self-esteem with good grades on such challenging homework as posters, book reports and “leaf projects.” [Charleston Daily Mail]
* Suggestion for replacement billboard: “At least our controversial billboard lasted longer than Britney Spears’ first marriage.” [ABC News]
Don’t get that jail cell ready for Paris Hilton just yet. Hilton’s defense team has launched a last-ditch effort to keep her out of jail after a Los Angeles traffic court judge made international headlines by sentencing the socialite to 45 days in county jail for repeatedly driving while her license was suspended.
Her attorneys have filed a notice of appeal at the courthouse. Though the document does not lay out the grounds for the appeal, her attorney, Howard L. Weitzman, has said the sentence was far too harsh given Hilton’s misdeeds.
We used to specialize in criminal appeals. But you need neither experience nor expertise to conclude that this argument is a legal loser. Here’s a good quip from a prof at Loyola Law:
“I don’t think the Founding Fathers had Paris Hilton’s driving conviction in mind when they enacted the cruel and unusual punishment provision of the Constitution,” said Loyola Law School professor Laurie Levenson.
But don’t count Paris out just yet. More discussion, after the jump.
Some of you have asked us for a new thread to discuss clerkship bonuses. Your wish is granted.*
We’ll kick off this clerkship bonus discussion with some good news. It concerns Sullivan & Cromwell, which first got the ball rolling on clerkship bonuses, by raising to $50K in the wake of the Brokeback Lawfirm scandal.
(Law clerks, you owe Aaron Charney a debt of gratitude. If he sets up an Aaron Charney Legal Defense Fund, you should contribute generously.)
Anyway, here’s the news:
I just got a call from the recruiting coordinator at S&C confirming they are now paying 70K for those with two years of clerkship experience.
Please keep up the excellent work on this front, I desperately want Cleary to match!
A partial summary of where things currently stand in the clerkship bonus market, after the jump.
* We receive many requests to cover X or Y when salary matters are in full swing. We try to accommodate the ones that we can, but obviously there are many that we can’t. Sorry, we are not going to start a “List of Shame” for ERISA boutiques in Topeka that don’t pay $80,000.
The litigation boutique of Susman Godfrey is prestigious. And it is well-paying, especially around bonus time.
It’s also not shy about honking its own horn (which shouldn’t be surprising, given its Texas roots). In fact, Susman Godfrey just issued a press release about its pay raises that might make Gallion & Spielvogel blush.
Here are some excerpts (emphases added):
TOP LITIGATION BOUTIQUE SUSMAN GODFREY RAISES ASSOCIATES SALARIES IN LOS ANGELES & NEW YORK OFFICE
Susman Godfrey announced today a salary increase for their associates in Los Angeles and New York. The compensation package for first year associates joining their Los Angeles and New York offices is $160,000, plus benefits. Already among the best paid associates nation-wide, the compensation package for first year associates in their Houston, Dallas, and Seattle offices is $140,000, plus benefits….
Susman Godfrey also pays year end merit bonuses to associates who have been with the firm for at least one year. Last year, associate bonuses topped out at $120,000. In 2005, some associates received a walloping $150,000 in year-end perks. More commonly, our merit bonuses have accounted for 20% to 60% of an associate’s annual compensation and are far in excess of bonuses paid by our competitors. Thus, associates’ year-end merit bonuses tend to range from an additional $30,000 to $80,000 on top of the base salary.
In some of the comment threads to our pay raise coverage, questions have been raised with respect to summer associates. For the firms that have recently raised associate salaries, people are wondering: Will summer associates be in on the fun?
Our take: Of course they will. Summer associates are traditionally paid at the rate of permanent or regular first-year associates, and we see no reason for that to change.
After all, firms are trying to woo summers. This is why they pay SAs ridiculous amounts of money to do “jack s**t” and go out to fancy lunches. Why would they want to alienate SAs, whom they are trying to convince to return to the firm on a permanent basis, by paying them according to a lower, outdated pay scale?
So if you’ll be summering at a law firm that just went from the $145K scale to the $160K scale, relax. You will surely be paid based on the new going rate. Unless your firm is completely lame, in which case you shouldn’t take their permanent offer. As the old saying goes, “Cheapness in one area suggests cheapness in all areas.”
Several firms that have just raised associate base salaries have officially informed their incoming summer associates that they will be paid according to the new scale. We reprint a representative memo, from Latham & Watkins, after the jump.
Hey, have you read Above the Law for like one single minute in the past month? If so, you probably know that we’re having this big blogger conference on March 14th at the Yale Club. Yeah, the Yale Club. You’ll be able to recognize me: I’ll be the only big… blogger guy surreptitiously holding a can of crimson spray-paint.
Speaking of coming, you should come. We’ve got CLE and all that. Click here to buy tickets to get CLE credit for listening to bloggers scream about stuff on the internet.
To refresh your memory, details on the panel that I’m moderating — almost entirely sober, mind you — follow.
My panel is called Blogs as Agents of Change, and we’re going to talk about whether all of these spilled pixels are actually making a difference. You know my view… just ask Lawrence Mitchell, but here are the panelists:
So you spent a considerable amount of time courting, selling and maybe even doing some friendly stalking of that attractive lateral partner candidate with a sizable book. After he or she ignored your emails and didn’t return your calls, a few weeks go by and you read a press release in the legal media announcing the recent move to a competing firm.
Rats. Another one got away from you. You cringe when you consider how much time was spent in meetings that did not bear fruit. Your heart aches when recall how you were led to believe this was a marriage made in heaven.
You have been rejected.
The sting of rejection is painful, even for fancy law firms. But you need to find a way that you can turn this disappointment into a legitimate learning experience.
No, this isn’t a pre-party before we come back next fall for the real thing. This IS the real thing. Quinn Emanuel is pushing the envelope on recruiting. The party is now. This is when you meet the partners and associates face to face. This is when we begin the dance that could land you an offer for your second summer BEFORE school starts in the fall.
First: You come to the party. Second: If you like us, you send your resume after June 1, 2014. Third: If we like each other, you get an offer.
We’re not waiting for fall. We’re not doing the twenty minute thing. This party is the real thing!
We hope you’ll join us, and look forward to meeting you.
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