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Blank Rome LLP Counselors at Law Above the Law Blog.jpgYesterday Blank Rome announced associate pay raises, of varying sizes, that will take effect in 2008. The firm will move to a starting salary of $160,000 in New York, but not in Washington. In the Philadelphia mother ship, starting pay will be $145,000.
The billable minimum at Blank Rome is 2000 hours. Here’s the memo:
TO: All Attorneys
FROM: David F. Girard-diCarlo, Chairman
Carl M. Buchholz, Managing Partner and Chief Executive Officer
RE: Associate Compensation
We are pleased to announce that the Firm will be increasing starting salaries for Associates, effective January 1, 2008. Starting salaries for Associates in New York will be increased to $160,000, in Washington to $150,000, and in Philadelphia to $145,000. All other offices will be appropriately adjusted to reflect their respective markets.
In addition to increasing starting salaries, we are reviewing the compensation levels for all Associates to make appropriate incremental increases based on class year. Adjustments will be made effective January 1, 2008, and the information regarding these adjustments will be communicated directly to Associates by the Practice Group Leaders once they have been determined. These adjustments will be in addition to the merit increases and bonuses being awarded to our Associates.

robins.gifHi all, this is Billy Merck once again (for those regulars out there who already hate know me, check out the link anyway, ’cause the site’s been revamped), mostly filling in for today and tomorrow, though Lat is probably going to poke his head in a time or two.
We’re going to be continuing Non-Top-Tier Law School Week, but first this morning we have a bit of biglaw advertising. Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi, LLP want you to know that they’re real trial lawyers who, you know, like, actually go to trial and stuff. The creative way that their advertising agency came up with to express that idea follows the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Or Like Lawyers Who Blog For A Living”

waterboarding 2 water boarding torture interrogation Above the Law blog.jpg* Does a federal district court have to recruit pro bono counsel for a pro se litigant? [Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals via How Appealing]
* DOJ cool with torture tough interrogation techniques. [New York Times]
* Bush doesn’t care about poor kids. [AP via Athens Banner-Herald]
* The ACLU doesn’t want to let Bush protect us. [Jurist]
* Falcons want their money back; so do Falcons fans (last week’s fine win notwithstanding). [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]

Howrey LLP Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.JPGAs you may recall from our prior coverage, in posts titled Howrey Is Planning Something Weird and More About the Howrey Weirdness, the law firm of Howrey LLP was planning to ditch lockstep compensation for its associates — in favor of something weird (or innovative, or both).
Starting in 2008, Howrey was going to employ a “competency model,” in which it would “determine salary based on individual evaluations and various forms of progress indicators.” At least that was the plan.
Consider the plan on hold, or at least put off for a while. Sources at Howrey advise us that at a meeting of the Associate Affairs Committee today, it was announced that the new, non-lockstep compensation system will not be implemented until at least 2009. In other words, Howrey will keep a lockstep pay scale through 2008.
It’s still planning to move in the direction of a new pay paradigm. The associate evaluation system upon which the new compensation will be based is going to be rolled out in 2008. But evaluations under that system won’t affect associate paychecks until 2009, at the earliest.
Why the postponement? A source tells us, “apparently the delayed implementation is a result of concerns voiced by associates to the firm’s outside consultants during focus group sessions about the new system.”
That’s nice. Who says partners don’t listen to associates?
Update: Or, as one commenter puts it, “they have been listening to those comments in exit interviews as Howrey hemorrhages associates who are terrified of a compensation structure based on an inadequate performance review system.”
Earlier: Nationwide Pay Raise Watch: More About the Howrey Weirdness
Nationwide Pay Raise Watch: Howrey Is Planning Something Weird

Facebook Dealbook Special Section Fall 2007 Above the Law blog.jpgThe excellent DealBook Special Section, in today’s New York Times, has a piece by Andrew Ross Sorkin that the New York deal lawyers among you will love. It’s entitled The Facebook of Wall Street’s Future:

Here is a snapshot of more than 100 people who make up the next generation of deal makers, everyone 40 years old or younger and linked by where they went to college (and chosen based on dozens of interviews). Think of the list as a Facebook of Wall Street’s future.

This is not an exhaustive inventory of all the up-and-comers on Wall Street, where new faces constantly come up with the next clever idea. But it demonstrates the power of certain schools as career starting points.

In terms of law schools — there are lots of business schools on the chart, too — the “certain schools” include Harvard, NYU, Georgetown, and Penn (among others; these four seem to have the most graduates on the map — 6, 6, 4, and 4, respectively).
Correction: Oops, sorry (and thanks to this commenter for pointing out our error). Columbia Law School has 7 featured alums. CLS, holla!
It’s tough to escape “tier-ism,” even when you move from the heart of the legal world to the point where it overlaps with the deal world. But do take note of the large area at the center of the illustration for people with “No Graduate Degrees.”
Some of the names on the map will be familiar to ATL readers. A few shout-outs, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Attention Young Legal Deal Makers: Did You Make the Cut?”

Cadwalader Wickersham Taft CWT bed bugs bedbugs Abovethelaw Above the Law legal tabloid blog.jpgSources in the New York office of Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft have informed us that a bed bug has been found on the 20th floor. It is believed that said bedbug infiltrated the premises through a delivery or box shipment. Perhaps it was hidden in a document production from opposing counsel?
Attorneys were notified of this breach in CWT’s bed bug security via email. We haven’t seen the email message, which we understand was protected against forwarding, printing, or copying.
But if you have further details, please post them in the comments (or email us). Thanks!
Update: We like this commenter’s speculation: “Cameron Diaz brought it!”
Earlier: Breaking: Cadwalader Overrun By Bed Bugs!!!
Cameron Diaz at Cadwalader!

Under Armour Under Armor underwear briefs Guantanamo Bay Above the Law blog.jpgLife for detainees at Guantanamo Bay, while difficult, isn’t 100 percent grim. From yesterday’s Washington Post:

Undergarments from Under Armour, the sports apparel line, offer “all-day performance, delivered in a lightweight compression fit,” at least according to the company’ s promotional material. While “unprecedented” in its ability to deliver comfort, Under Armour underwear is not standard issue for detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. So when two men in detention there were found to possess the contraband briefs, the Navy attorney contacted their attorneys. One of the detainees in question is Shaker Aamer, whose release the British government wrote to request from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in August.

But before turning to the larger question of whether Aamer will stay or go, there’s the question of what he’s wearing. And as the recent exchange between the Navy lawyer and Aamer’s attorney Clive Stafford Smith illustrates, in the legal wrangling over detention, even details on intimates can lead to contentious debate…

You read excerpts from the hilarious correspondence, which showcase the dry British wit of Clive Stafford-Smith, over here.
But for those of you who like to look at original documents — and we know that, since you’re mostly lawyers, you love yourselves some primary docs — we’re pleased to present the complete correspondence (with original letterhead, signatures, etc.). Just click here (PDF). Enjoy!
Correspondence Between Staff Judge Advocate, U.S. Navy, and Clive A. Stafford-Smith [PDF]
An Incursion of Briefs at Guantanamo [Washington Post]

email e-mail message microsoft outlook Above the Law.jpgIn case you’ve forgotten, this week is still Non-Top-Tier Law School Week at ATL. It has been a big hit, as reflected in both site traffic and the number of reader comments on posts. If you don’t like this theme — if, for example, you see it as patronizing or degrading (which is not our intention; our coverage is partly tongue-in-cheek, poking fun at the ridiculous elitism of the legal profession) — then come back next week.
Still here? Okay. On this week’s theme, a reader sent us this inquiry:

Whatever happened to Diana “bla bla bla” Abdala? You should post an APB to figure out what happened.

If you don’t remember the infamous Dianna Abdala, a graduate of Suffolk University School of Law (Tier 3), then refresh your recollection over here.
So, does anyone know what Ms. Abdala might be up to these days? If so, we’d love to hear from you (in the comments, or by email). Thanks.
P.S. We usually omit the names of people who commit Abdala-esque career suicide gaffes. But since she is all over the internets, with her very own Wikipedia entry, we figure this cat is already out of the bag.
P.P.S. The high number of Google results associated with Dianna Abdala makes it harder to find out what she’s up to these days. We were too lazy to look past the first 10 (of over 10,000) Google hits associated with her name. Hence this post.
We Reap The Emails That You Sew [WSJ Law Blog]
Dianna L. Abdala [Wikipedia]

Despite the unseasonably warm temperatures we’ll be seeing here in D.C. later this week, summer is over. But that doesn’t mean our inbox is closed to stories of summer associate scandal.

Check out this great pair of controversies, from the summer program of Washington powerhouse Patton Boggs:

There have been rumors flying around Patton Boggs about major drama in this year’s summer associate class that I thought I’d pass along. Some of the summers got upset because:

(1) At the summer associate golf outing, one of the associates wore a Confederate flag hat while playing 18 holes with the summers. The hat apparently went unnoticed by everyone except the summer associates, who (rightfully) felt uncomfortable telling a lawyer at the firm that his hat may be in poor taste. Best part: apparently he shared a golf cart with one of the black summers!

(2) Apparently a very high-level partner at Patton Boggs was disappointed to learn that a beauty queen winner/current law student was not offered a position as a summer associate. When he learned that the firm had instead hired a (gasp!) gay summer associate, he allegedly said, in front of others at the firm, “You know the recruiting department is screwed up when they’re rejecting beauty queens but hiring homosexuals.”

We contacted Patton Boggs for comment. A firm spokesperson provided this statement:

“The firm takes these types of matters seriously. When we hear of things of this nature, we investigate and take appropriate action as necessary.”

If you’re at Patton Boggs and can enlighten us further about these events — or if you’re at another firm, and have summer associate stories you’re now at liberty to share with us, given the passage of time — please email us. Thanks.

DealBook special section merger lawyers AboveTheLaw Above the Law blog.jpgAs some of you have noticed, we have an article in today’s New York Times, in the DealBook Special Section. It’s about fee arrangements in the (highly lucrative) context of mergers-and-acquisitions work. Here’s a teaser:

For some firms, billable hours are just the beginning. As the boom rolled on, law firms specializing in mergers and acquisitions increasingly engaged in premium billing, charging fees in excess of their total hourly billings. Think of it as a tip for good work. Whether a client pays a premium depends upon its satisfaction with the result, the size and complexity of the transaction, and the nature and length of the attorney-client relationship.

But since the credit market began to tighten this summer, an event that brought new deals to a crawl and has upset several old ones, many lawyers have been wondering whether the premium party is over…

And here’s one of the more juicy portions:

One firm, though, has moved beyond billable hours to the flat fee preferred by bankers: Wachtell, Lipton. A former Wachtell lawyer described a typical bill as follows: “There’s a paragraph stating something like, ‘For legal services rendered in connection with Transaction X,’ then a dot leader, then a number followed by six zeros.” He said he worked on some deals where Wachtell was paid more than the bankers.

Wachtell charged a flat fee when it advised the Bancroft family, which controlled Dow Jones & Company, during the $5 billion bid by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation For its work on the deal, Wachtell first submitted a bill for $10 million.

You can read the full piece here (or here). Feel free to email it liberally to friends and family. Thanks!
When $1,000 an Hour Is Not Enough [Dealbook / NYT]

WilmerHale Wilmer Hale 2 Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.JPGToe up, that is. After our recent post about WilmerHale having “issues,” multiple sources wrote in to tell us that the firm’s Baltimore office is closing, effective January 1, 2008.
Once again, the firm ignored us did not respond to our request for comment (which we, like Robert Novak, don’t like very much). If you have more information, about the Baltimore office closing or any other WilmerHale developments, feel free to email us.
Here are two comments that caught our eye in the last WilmerHale thread:

“the original post about the WH employee with cancer is ABSOLUTELY TRUE. this story is not a fabrication. this person DEFINATELY [sic] exists, is back at work, in a different dept, different job. for all of you who dont believe this story, pull your head out of your a***s. wcp has gone to hell, a f*cking billable hr GULAG….”

“WH is a billable hours hell, however the summer associates get wined and dined all summer, boat trips, KenCen, pool parties at partners’ houses, free lunches, breakfast sessions, receptions, goodie bags full of WH items. You name it. The support staff that babysits them all summer get diddly. The personality of WCP has changed 180 degrees since merger with H&D, and not for the good. Morale among the worker bees (support staff) is lower than snake s**t. They’re even asking long time partners to leave, for whatever reason. WCP used to be based in Washington, now takes orders from the Boston office of H&D…..”

A billable hours “gulag” or “hell”? Times sure have changed from the 1930s! Back then, attorneys at WH predecessor firms worked under 1,500 hours a year (but for starting salaries of $1,200). See here.
Attorney Working Hours and Salaries []
Earlier: What’s Up With WilmerHale?

One year ago, we wrote about how Columbia law professor Hans Smit was trying to unload his 12,000 square foot home — the only freestanding single-family mansion in Manhattan — for a cool $29 million.

One year later, the good professor’s home is still on the market. Its white-marble-clad facade greeted us when we visited the New York Times homepage this morning (screencap and link to listing below).

The only difference from last year? The asking price, now up to $30 million.

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. And up your asking price by a million!

(In all seriousness, Professor Smit’s decision to round up to $30 million probably isn’t as crazy as it might seem. Despite the weak real estate market in the rest of the country, the market in New York City — especially at the high end — continues to be strong.)

Hans Smit mansion still for sale Above the Law blog.jpg

Magnificent Mansion [Brown Harris Stevens]

Earlier: Lawyerly Lairs: Professor Smit’s Uptown Mansion

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