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Valentine's Day note card Above the Law blog.jpgNo, we didn’t forget. We love you too much, dear readers. HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!
Of course, this is a holiday fraught with peril. How should you celebrate? What gift should you get for your spouse or significant other? How do you handle the occasion if, say, you’ve been dating someone for just a few weeks — or if you’re seeing more than one person at the same time?
For many lawyers, Valentine’s Day is no big deal. A relationship — who has time for that?
But it does raise at least one issue. From a tipster:

Most attorneys get their secretaries / assistants a gift for the end-of-year holidays. But what about Valentine’s Day?

I suggest a thread on what people do give, should give, shouldn’t give, and should spend for Valentine’s Day gifts for their assistants. And whether attorneys need to give anything for this very Hallmark holiday.

Hmm… maybe a nice box of chocolates (unless he or she is diabetic)? Steer clear of lingerie, unless your secretary is doing more than your time entry.
What are your thoughts on this pressing inquiry, so the delinquent among you can step out during lunch and grab a gift or card? Feel free to share ideas, or discuss your V-Day plans more generally, in the comments.
P.S. This is too late to be helpful for this Valentine’s Day, but for future reference, you can order personalized printed greeting cards at the Billable Hour. Check out their Valentine’s Day selection over here.
Earlier: Secretary / Administrative Assistant Gifts: Open Thread (270 comments — wow)

* House Democrats oppose Senate spy bill’s telecom immunity. [Washington Post]
* Justice Scalia approves of “so-called torture” under some circumstances. [MSNBC]
* Just a few months later, Senate committee gets around to admonishing Sen. Craig. [CNN]
* Clemens and McNamee go head to head before Congress. [ESPN]
* City’s scantily clad cowboy sues candy-coated counterpart. [WSJ Law Blog]

Jones Day Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgLast week we put up a post about associate compensation issues at Jones Day. It generated a torrent of comments. As always, some were negative, some positive.
A few readers were upset by the negative comments and came to their firm’s defense. Here’s what one wrote:

I am a third year lawyer at Jones Day. I enjoy my job and am paid well (and I mean darn well) above market. I hesitate to respond to such mudslinging by persons who are either disgruntled or misinformed, but as a current happy third year lawyer at Jones Day, I felt the need to set the record straight.

People who are unhappy with their compensation at Jones Day are in fact underperformers. Believe me, if I were in charge, I would fire those people rather than giving them a $160,000 “hint” that they aren’t Jones Day material and should consider a career change. Because anyone who thinks that paying a third year lawyer the published salary of a first year lawyer is not a “message” about work quality is delusional. In no other profession do competent, mature people complain about being compensated based on their performance (or lack thereof).

To reiterate: I did not clerk. I have never billed more than 2100 hours. I have received bonuses despite billing slightly under 2000 hours. I have had many fantastic substantive opportunities (read: not two years of document review). I enjoy my job and colleagues. I am paid based on the quality (again, not quantity) of my work, which turns out to be more than most 4th year lawyers billing 2000-2100 hours at big firms in NY.

And the beauty of our confidential system is that other greedy jealous underperforming associates aren’t blogging about my pay stub. Instead, those “lawyers” have gotten the Jones Day “hint,” and are now spending their time at a new employer – not representing clients, but blogging about their ex-employer who figured out that they were worthless.

Ouch. That was way harsh, Tai.
But it’s a fair point. Why shouldn’t a firm pay associates what it thinks they’re worth on an individual basis, and if the associates don’t like it, they can leave? This is effectively what investment banks do with their personnel.
Additional commentary about JD, plus a photo of some of their paralegals at play, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Some Follow-Up on Jones Day’s Confidential Compensation Model”

* From a male law student’s manifesto: “I Am A Law School Girl (Snatch, Gunch, Clam, Whisker Biscuit — Pick Your Subject Synonym)…” Charming, isn’t it? [Jezebel]
* Are celebrity gossip sites developing consciences? [Media Law Prof Blog]
* Could Greg Fleming’s status as the “last guy standing” at Merrill Lynch spell legal trouble for him? [DealBreaker]
* “[T]he Hollywood Foreign Press Association and even NBC could be on the verge of taking legal action against the WGA for actions leading to the cancellation of this year’s Golden Globes. Really, could Jeff Zucker possibly be more of a putz?” [Deadline Hollywood Daily]
* Is Hillary doomed? Maybe not (yet). [Blogonaut]
* “This is a lesson on how to fool a jury. And how to get caught.” [New York Personal Injury Law Blog]
* Added as an update to the original post, but in case you missed it, there’s another side to the whole “bringing a gun to a deposition” story. [ESPN]

Nicholas Del Vecchio Judge Nick Del Vecchio Above the Law blog.jpgWhat happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. Unless it involves an allegedly misbehaving judge, in which case it makes these pages.
If the allegations are true, today’s Judge of the Day puts the “Sin” in Sin City. From the Las Vegas Review Journal:

The Family Court judge accused of making a 14-year-old girl perform oral sex on him and years later coercing her into a sexual relationship remained on the bench Monday as court officials considered his future.

Court officials talked about taking away the caseload of Nicholas Del Vecchio but haven’t made any decisions, said Chuck Short, county court administrator. The court doesn’t have the authority to remove Del Vecchio. Only the Nevada Judicial Discipline Commission can remove or suspend a sitting judge.

As Judge Elizabeth Halverson well knows.
You’d think that allegations of oral sex with a 14-year-old would be sufficient to prevail as Judge of the Day. But you can read more about Judge Del Vecchio’s alleged misadventures, including claims of surreptitious audio recordings and nude photography, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Judge of the Day: Nicholas Del Vecchio
(And a digression on judges and oral sex.)”

Hey, if they can make it past the metal detector at One First Street, it’s all good. Is that a gavel under your robe, Your Honor — or are you just reviewing the Joint Appendix?
This is certainly one of the more interesting circuit splits out there. Let’s hope for a cert petition and a speedy grant.
Dildoes Going to the Supreme Court? [Volokh Conspiracy]

Cleary Gottlieb Steen Hamilton LLP CGSH Above the Law blog.jpgThe venerable law firm of Cleary Gottlieb, which has always been known as a kinder, gentler sort of place — at least by Biglaw standards — has fired a shot across the bow of its peer firms.
Cleary just announced their move to the new “market” rate of 18 weeks of parental leave. But they didn’t stop there. They also rolled out all sorts of perks and fringe benefits that associates are sure to love. From a Cleary source:

See attached. Cleary ups parental leave and adds other programs on flex-time, telecommuting, professional development, career counseling, management training — and free lunches on Mondays!

And from a tipster at a rival firm:

Cleary announced a new flex-time policy open to all associates above the second-year class, plus a two-day-a-month telecommuting policy for all associates. Other changes and boring stuff I skimmed through in the attached…

I hope my firm takes the hint!

Check out the memos for yourself (links below). Kudos to Cleary!
Will other top New York law firms follow suit? Only time will tell.
New Initiatives to Improve Professional Development and Quality of Life [PDF]
Parental Leave Policy [PDF]

Shih Tzu dog stolen steal dog Puddle Alice Texas Above the Law blog.jpgThe main villain this story is the client rather than the lawyer. But the facts are too good for us not to mention it. From today’s New York Times:

ALICE, Tex. – Rustling has been frowned upon in this South Texas cow and cotton town since long before it was named for the youngest daughter of the founder of the nearby King Ranch.

So when the mayor, Grace Saenz-Lopez, agreed to take care of her next-door neighbors’ sick Shih Tzu and ended up keeping it, telling them the dog was dead and buried, it was bound to get ugly.

Particularly after the mop-haired critter, Puddles, turned up quite alive — and renamed Panchito — at Ms. Saenz-Lopez’s twin sister’s ranch 14 miles away.

As one of our tipsters quips, “It’s nice to know that abuse of power is alive and well in Texas… This is the same town that rigged an election for LBJ back in the day.”
But there is a role for the lawyer in this story:

[Ms. Saenz-Lopez] said she had no regrets [for taking the dog from a flea-infested home]. “If we can’t be the voice of the people any more, let us be the voice of animals.”

Her lawyer, Homero Canales, wearing a black T-shirt with the words “No Culpable” — Spanish for “Not Guilty” — quibbled slightly. “You could have handled it better,” he said.

Ms. Garcia looked surprised. “Thank you, counselor,” she said.

More about Homero, after the jump.

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associate bonus watch 2007 law firm Above the Law blog.jpgOur latest associate bonus news comes from Heller Ehrman. On Monday, we were alerted to their bonus meeting:

Heller has an all-associate video conference tomorrow (Tuesday, 9 a.m. PST) where, among other things, associate compensation will be discussed. Bonus checks are due on Friday, and no one knows what they’ll get in advance. (You have an idea based on last year’s grid, but that doesn’t account for the discretionary bonus, if there is any.)

They’ve been very quiet, but at a retreat at the Claremont in the Bay Area this past weekend, the opening presentation was extremely negative (although 2008 looks very good so far). A test run?

I don’t know if they’ve done it in the past, but this year associates were asked to justify the non-hours based portion of their bonus in a memo. I would not be surprised, given the recent Heller-related press, to see them go to a non-transparent bonus system.

Heller isn’t the only firm where associates are called upon to justify their bonus love. See also Akin Gump (item #2; outside New York).
Oh yes, so the Heller videoconference took place yesterday. If you’re interested in what transpired, it’s described after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: Heller Ehrman”

We received over five hundred responses to last Thursday’s ATL / Lateral Link survey on client contact, and most of you have been enjoying extensive client interaction:
Results: How many times have you interacted with clients in the last month?
Client Contact Statistics From Lateral Link
Of course, not all client contacts are created equal:

  • About 93% of respondents spoke with clients on the phone, or e-mailed them directly.
  • About two-thirds of respondents had their names on briefs or memos that were sent to clients.
  • Another two-thirds met clients in person.
  • About a quarter of respondents actually attended social events with clients.
  • A fifth pitched prospective clients.
  • About 18% of respondents reported bringing in new clients last month.
  • More findings and discussion, after the jump.

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Featured Job Survey Results: Making Rain?”

    gun pistol firearm Second Amendment Above the Law blog.jpgWe’re having a very sportcentric morning here at ATL. From the AP:

    A lawyer for a sports marketer who is suing football star Reggie Bush said he and his client walked out of a deposition Tuesday after a bodyguard for Bush’s attorney opened his jacket to expose a pistol.

    “He made sure we saw it,” said attorney Brian Watkins, who represents sports marketer Lloyd Lake.

    Watkins said Bush attorney David Cornwell told him the bodyguard had a permit to carry a concealed weapon. The bodyguard identified himself only by his first name and did not present a business card, Watkins said.

    Because it’s totally cool to have a gunman in your depo room, as long as you have his business card.

    “It’s outrageous that he shows up strapped for a deposition,” Watkins said. “That’s outrageous conduct in the lawyer world. Come on, we’re lawyers. I don’t threaten people, I sue them.”

    That’s glib, Mr. Watkins. Isn’t threatening part of a lawyer’s job description? Although not typically with firearms, to be sure.

    Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, the law firm that hosted the deposition in its San Diego office, said it was investigating. It said none of its lawyers were present at the deposition.

    “The firm absolutely prohibits the presence of firearms in any of our offices and we believe our personnel were unaware that a firearm had been brought onto our premises, assuming that did occur,” the firm said in a statement.

    Any firm that does allow attorneys to tote guns to work deserves to go up a few spots on the Vault 100. Because that would be badass. Packing heat would put the “mofo” in MoFo.
    Next up in Biglaw Perk Watch: Concealed weaponry?
    Update: A tipster tells us:

    The other side of this is in this ESPN story: Lake is a convicted gang member and, according to Bush’s attorney Cornwell, made threats of violence including through his own attorney, Watkins.

    “Cornwell also reported details of his first meeting with Watkins. Watkins told Cornwell that Lake was a gang member and that if the Bush camp did not pay off Lake, he [Watkins] could not control him. Cornwell also said that Lake made two threats against Bush in December 2007. After discussing the threats with law enforcement and private security professionals, Bush’s legal team was told to take precautions when in Lake’s presence.”

    Bush’s guard flashes gun at accuser [AP via]

    Sports and the Law 3 Above the Law blog.jpgFor most of the past century, Congress has failed to adequately regulate professional sports. For example, when Major League Baseball (“MLB”) actively monopolized, Congress did nothing (1914-1998). When the National Football League (“NFL”) sought to merge with its main competitor (the American Football League), Congress granted the NFL a special antitrust exemption to do so (1966). And, when sports teams began to use their market power to pressure cities to build new stadiums, Congress even voted down legislation that would have protected the interests of the American taxpayer (1996 & 1999).
    This week, however, Congress has shifted from a policy of under-regulating professional sports to a policy of potentially over-regulating them. In the coming week, Capitol Hill will be abuzz with three sports-related investigations: Spygate, Churchgate, and, of course, the MLB Steroids Investigation.
    MLB Steroids Investigation:
    The main event on Capitol Hill this week involves the ongoing investigation into MLB’s use of performance-enhancing drugs — an issue that Henry Waxman (D-California) and Tom Davis (R-Virginia) first began investigating back in March 2005. This morning, Roger Clemens — the most dominant starting pitcher of his era — will defend himself against accusations made by his former trainer Brian McNamee that he injected Clemens with illegal performance-enhancing drugs during the 1998, 2000 and 2001 seasons.
    Earlier this month, New York Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte and former Yankees second baseman/outfielder Chuck Knoblauch were deposed by the House Committee on Government Reform about this same topic. Both Pettitte and Knoblauch’s statements — neither of which have been made public — might be used by the House Committee in today’s questioning of both Clemens and McNamee.
    Discussion continues, after the jump.

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Sports and the Law: Steroids, and Spygate, and Churchgate, Oh My!”

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