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Here’s an open thread request we’ve received from multiple sources. A representative message:

I’m trying to gather more info about firms / offices that pay NYC salary + NYC bonus in secondary markets. For example, I believe that Weil and Skadden both do in Dallas and Houston, but none of the other firms in Texas do. I don’t know if you’ve done a post about this before, but I think it might be interesting, because $205K goes really far in TX.

Skadden Wilmington is another possible example.

That’s correct about Skadden in Wilmington. Another well-paying secondary market: Charlotte. A CLT tipster tells us: “Mayer Brown, Dechert, Dewey, and Cadwalader have all increased salaries to $160K here in Charlotte.”
Hold on a sec — Cadwalader? Didn’t they just lay off 35 lawyers, including some in Charlotte?
Yes, they did — but they also raised salaries for the survivors. More after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Diamonds in the Rough: Open Thread on Offices in Secondary Markets That Pay the Full $160K Scale
(And a digression on Cadwalader in Charlotte)”

Martin Luther King Jr Day MLK Day On Day Off Above the Law blog.jpgIn last month’s ATL / Lateral Link survey we asked you which holidays you worked on, or expected to work on, during 2007. About half of you reported that you had worked on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Last week, we asked you how you fared this year. Did you take the day off to honor a champion of civil rights, or did you make it a “day on”?
We received just under 1,300 responses, and 44% of you reported that you took the day off. Associates in New York, Los Angeles and Boston were most likely to celebrate the holiday, while associates in Chicago, Atlanta, the Bay Area, and Texas were most likely to be working. (Respondents in the Bay Area were also most likely to work over Christmas and New Year’s. Is it time for them to get New York bonuses?)
How did it break down on a firm by firm basis? DLA Piper, Milbank, Sidley & Austin, Dechert, Hunton & Williams, Jones Day, Latham, Mayer Brown, McDermott, Hughes Hubbard, McGuire Woods, Morgan Lewis, Nixon Peabody, Paul Hastings, and Sullivan & Cromwell each had multiple happy associates who reported that they had taken the day off. Kirkland & Ellis, Baker Botts, Dewey & LeBoeuf, O’Melveny & Myers, Weil, and Winston & Strawn each had mixed responses. Associates at Skadden, however, uniformly reported that they had worked the holiday, as Martin Luther King Jr. day is a “floating” holiday for the firm.
Of those who spent the day at the office, about 54% reported that they weren’t actually asked to work the holiday, but had things they needed to get done. About a quarter reported that their offices were open. Another quarter said that partners told them to work on the holiday. About 8% were asked to work by clients. A surprising number of respondents wrote in that other associates had told them to work on the holiday.
A little over a third of respondents who worked on the holiday thought that the work did not justify the sacrifice.

help wanted small Above the Law blog.jpg[Ed. note: We're looking for someone to share Morning Docket duties with B. Clerker (on an alternating-week schedule). If you'd like to be considered for this position, please follow the application instructions contained in this post. The main thing that has changed between then and now is that the gig now comes with pay -- a modest stipend. Thanks.]
* MSFT + YHOO = Antitrust Scrutiny. Also, the identities of the law firms advising on the mega-deal. [WSJ Law Blog; New York Times]
* The quality of mercy is not strained… except in the Office of the United States Pardon Attorney. [New York Times via How Appealing]
* Hidden-camera video evidence leads to reopening of Natalee Holloway investigation in Aruba. [ABC News; AP]
* HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson accused of favoritism and retaliation in lawsuit. [Washington Post]
* Prominent conservatives Steven Calabresi and John McGinnis, on Sen. McCain and Supreme Court nominations: “the nomination of John McCain is the best option to preserve the ongoing restoration of constitutional government.” [Wall Street Journal via How Appealing]

Hillary Clinton Hillary Rodham Clinton banner Above the Law blog.jpgAn article for the McClatchy newspapers, evaluating the truth of Senator Hillary Clinton’s claim of “35 years of change,” has some interesting background about her legal career at the Rose Law Firm in Arkansas.
It does suggest, for those of you interested in political careers, that you might not want to cool your heels too long in Biglaw. It just doesn’t lend itself well to rosy campaign-trail bios. If you do spend a lot of time at a firm, be sure to engage in lots of pro bono work. From the article:

Clinton spent the bulk of her career — 15 of those 35 years — at one of Arkansas’ most prestigious corporate law firms, where she represented big companies and served on corporate boards.

Neither she nor her surrogates, however, ever mention that on the campaign trail. Her campaign Web site biography devotes six paragraphs to her pro bono legal work for the poor but sums up the bulk of her experience in one sentence: “She also continued her legal career as a partner in a law firm.”

Here’s what we found most interesting:

Clinton did receive a smaller salary than most other Rose partners, topping out at about $200,000, in part because of her outside activities, according to several biographies.

So don’t count Hillary Clinton among the ranks of seven-figure law firm partners. She’s closer to an underpaid junior partner than a partner at Wachtell or Cravath.
But don’t shed tears for HRC either. If you look at her partner pay in the context of Arkansas’s legal market and low cost of living, and if you adjust it for the passage of time (Sen. Clinton practiced law many years ago), $200K looks better and better.
Clinton’s ’35 years of change’ omits most of her career [McClatchy]

Your reading of gossip blogs — well, at least those relating to your profession (so Perez Hilton probably doesn’t count, unless you’re in showbiz) — has just been blessed. From an article entitled “Gossip Is Information By Another Name,” in the New York Times:

Q. The office sometimes feels like one big water cooler, with colleagues gossiping about one another and about management. It’s hard to resist joining in, but it feels subversive to spread information this way. Is it?

A. Not necessarily. Most gossip is just communication, a way that people form networks of trusting relationships.

The word “gossip” has a negative connotation, but you could also call it strategic information sharing, counseling or mentoring, said Michael Morris, a research psychologist and professor of organizational behavior at Columbia Business School who studies social cognition.

So feel free to bill your reading of ATL to “professional development,” “office admin,” or something similar. If you get asked about it, say you were gathering and sharing “strategic information,” or “mentoring” younger lawyers.

As long as the information you’re spreading is not intended to hurt another person, it can actually be good for the company. Especially during times of major change, like downsizing or layoffs, gossip can be cathartic for employees, Professor Morris said.

See, e.g., Friday’s O’Melveny & Myers thread (250+ comments).
A little more discussion, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Move Over, Greed; Gossip Is Good Too”

* Tax protesters, rejoice. Wesley Snipes acquitted of felony tax fraud (but convicted on misdemeanor charges). [taxgirl; TaxProf Blog]
* IP issues in the Super Bowl context. [Forbes]
* Poor marks for former Chief Judge William Zloch (S.D. Fla.) in Floridian judicial survey. [Daily Business Review]
* Speaking of south Florida judges, the Liberty City Seven gag order has been lifted — in part. David Markus et al. will continue to seek mandamus (our favorite writ — sure, habeas is “the Great Writ” and all, but mandamus is badass). [Southern District of Florida Blog]
* Supreme Court clerks do the darnedest things. Here’s a lovely one-minute movie by the fabulous Gretchen Craft Rubin, a former editor-in-chief of the Yale Law Journal and law clerk to Justice O’Connor, who’s now a writer working on her fourth book. [The Years Are Short / The Happiness Project]

O'Melveny Myers LLP logo Above the Law blog.jpgWe respectfully submit that the powers-that-be at O’Melveny & Myers need to “chill” (as Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) recently told former President Bill Clinton).
The folks at OMM apparently have some totalitarian tendencies. We heard they no-offered a summer associate from last year based on this individual’s personal blogging about the summer associate experience (which didn’t even mention the firm by name). And now we hear this rumor (by phone and by email, from multiple sources):

[T]he firm is furious about (true) comments sent to ATL about the firm’s poor performance and underhanded layoffs. Apparently, the fire rages so much so that OMM is dead set on a witch hunt to find the associate(s) who leaked the goings on to ATL.

Both the firm’s tech department and outside techies have been enlisted to figure out which associate’s computer the comments were sent from. OMM associates are now scared to even check your site while at work (though of course are keeping in the loop through home computers).

We contacted the firm for comment. We haven’t heard back from them as of the time of this posting.
We know next to nothing about labor and employment law. But to the labor lawyers among you, here’s a hypothetical:

You’re a lawyer at a major law firm. You provide negative information about your employer to ATL and/or post a comment on ATL (or a similar message board), complaining about the terms and conditions of your employment (e.g., salaries, bonuses, fringe benefits). Your employer finds out what you did, and promptly fires you.

You’re a lawyer — a well-educated, highly-paid professional ($160K+). You are not a member of a union; your office doesn’t have one.

You want to sue your former firm for firing you. Do you have any claim that your conduct was collective activity protected under the NLRA? Might you have any other cause of action, under federal or state law?

Maybe our friends at Workplace Prof Blog can enlighten us. Or if you’re a labor and employment lawyer, feel free to opine in the comments.
P.S. We’re experiencing mysterious technical difficulties this afternoon, so this may be our last post in a while. Maybe OMM is hacking ATL?
Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of O’Melveny & Myers (scroll down)

associate bonus watch 2007 law firm Above the Law blog.jpgWe’ve spent a ridiculous amount of time and energy trying to get to the bottom of the bonus situation at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft. We’ve heard all sorts of conflicting rumors, but we think we’ve finally figured things out — to the extent that they can be figured out. This post supersedes all prior coverage of CWT bonuses.
In Litigation, we think that bonuses were fairly straightforward. This is our understanding, on very good authority:

1. 1900 hours and above = full, market-level, year-end and special bonus.

2. Between 1850 and 1900 = 75 percent of the regular year-end bonus, but NO special bonus.

3. Below 1850 = nothing, nada, zilch. Unless you were a first-year from the class of 2006 (first full year at CWT), in which case you got 50 percent of a year-end bonus.

4. For purposes of calculating hours, only client billable, pro bono, and “pre-approved” marketing hours counted. Other marketing hours, and recruiting hours, were NOT counted.

Read more — including a dramatic epic narrative from a CWT associate, describing how the firm epically mishandled the bonus situation — after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: Getting to the Bottom of the Cadwalader Mystery”

Star Simpson MIT student fashion Above the Law blog.jpgIn the wake of our recent post about a dubious defense, here’s another one:

A lawyer for an MIT student held at gunpoint after she walked into Logan International Airport wearing what authorities believed was a bomb asked a judge to throw out the charges Friday, saying the device was a legitimate form of free speech….

Thomas Dwyer Jr., a lawyer for Simpson, said his client didn’t think her shirt would scare anyone. He said she’d been wearing the shirt for several days on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus, and it had not alarmed anyone….

“People make these objects part of their identity. It’s a part of their personal expression,” he said. “They are legitimate forms of First Amendment expression.”

Writes Blogonaut:

[A] 9mm round from an airport police handgun might be a legitimate “free speech” reply to a person with a battery-powered rectangular device on their chest with flashing lights and apparent plastic explosive in their hands.

The marketplace of ideas. Ain’t it grand?
P.S. Is the Tom Dwyer involved in this case the well-regarded Thomas E. Dwyer, Jr., of Dwyer & Collora (formerly Dwyer, Collora & Gernter, before Nancy Gertner was appointed to the federal bench)? If so, we’d expect a former state and federal prosecutor to offer a more compelling defense.
P.P.S. In fairness to Dwyer, another argument he’s making — that state law does not clearly define a “hoax device” — seems stronger.
Woman charged with wearing fake bomb says device was free speech [Worcester Telegram via Blogonaut]
Earlier: From the Department of Dubious Defenses

Sidley Austin Brown Wood LLP logo Abovethelaw Above the Law legal blog.JPGFrom this morning’s ATL mailbag:

It may not be that juicy of a story, but almost all of the soon-to-be first-year associates at Sidley Austin LA are pissed about the start dates they gave us. Our available start dates are August 11 or September 8. The first start date is just 10 days after the California bar. Are we being whiny bitches, or is this messed up?

We lean towards “messed up.” But we’re biased in favor of late start dates — we showed up for our first day of law firm work in December, after extensive post-clerkship travels. (We couldn’t do a post-bar trip because our clerkship started a week after the bar exam.)
So, readers, whaddya think? Do the Sidley associates have just cause for complaint? Or are these starting dates par for the course in Biglaw? What’s your law firm’s policy?
Update (11:45 AM): Based on the comments thus far, it seems the weight of authority favors “whiny bitches.” But let’s do this more systematically: take our poll.

Job of the Week

This week Lateral Link members started jobs at Skadden, Fried Frank, Stillman Friedman, Kirkland & Ellis, and Jones Day.
Position: Senior Counsel – Home Entertainment
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Description: A top entertainment Company has an opening for a home entertainment Senior Counsel in the Corporate and Distribution Legal Department. The position will focus primarily on transactions to distribute and acquire television and motion picture programming for the Company’s home entertainment division. This attorney will work closely with senior business development, operations, marketing and finance executives to structure, negotiate and document distribution and acquisition agreements ranging from revenue sharing agreements, retail space programs, third party licensing agreements, acquisition of home entertainment rights, promotional programs, product manufacturing agreements, back-end distribution services agreements, scan-based trading agreements and other related agreements.
Skills Description: The successful candidate will have outstanding academic credentials and a minimum of six to eight years of studio/in-house (or comparable law firm) experience in home entertainment matters. Valuable areas of expertise include packaged goods distribution, licensing, intellectual property and marketing. Strong negotiation, drafting and interpersonal communication skills and the ability to work in a fast-paced environment are essential.
Company Description: This Company is a leading creator and distributor of entertainment products, services and technology. Their global operations encompass motion picture production and distribution, television programming and syndication, home video acquisitions and distribution, operation of studio facilities, development of new entertainment technologies and distribution of filmed entertainment in over 67 countries.
For more information, see job #7488 on Lateral Link.
Earlier: Prior Job of the Week listings (scroll down)

* NFL Union president prepared for strike. [ESPN]
* Microsoft offers to acquire Yahoo for $44.6 billion to compete with Google. [MSNBC]
* Times reporter subpoenaed over “State of War” source. [New York Times]
* French President and supermodel girlfriend sue over pictures. [Washington Post via WSJ Law Blog]
* HLS grad Obama and YLS grad Clinton make nice, sort of, during debate. [MSNBC]
* SCOTUS stays Alabama execution, maintaining de facto moratorium on death penalty. [CNN]
* Roy Tolles and Arthur Kramer, of Munger Tolles and Kramer Levin, respectively, RIP. [WSJ Law Blog]

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