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associate bonus watch 2007 law firm Above the Law blog.jpgHow can law firm administrators get associates to enter their time on time? Here’s one idea: link time entry to those beloved bonuses.
From a source at Dechert:

Attached is an email that all the attorneys at Dechert LLP received today regarding associate bonuses and potential penalties. According to the policy outlined below, an associate’s bonus may be reduced by up to 10% due to the late submission of billable time over the past year. I thought this might be of some interest to your readers.

We agree. Might this become a Biglaw trend? Nagging emails about timely time entry are easily ignored. Slashing bonuses, on the other hand, tends to grab associates’ attention.
In fairness to the firm, it’s worth noting that the policy is not super-draconian. Most of the bonus reductions were under 5 percent, and delinquent associates have the opportunity to redeem themselves: “[E]very associate whose 2007 bonus is reduced will have the opportunity to earn the amount of bonus reduction back, if he or she remains in good standing and complies fully with our time-recording policy in 2008.”
Check out the full memo, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: Dechert Docks Associates for Dilatory Billables”

Is Michael Ray a modern-day Clarence Earl Gideon? From the AP:

While other prisoners are lifting weights or playing basketball, Michael Ray is working 40 hours a week, his head buried in legal texts and journals. Over the years, the jailhouse lawyer has helped dozens of fellow inmates file appeals, sometimes with success.

But recently Ray secured an achievement rarely seen by even the most experienced of attorneys on the outside: The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments in one of his cases.

Quips a tipster: “I wonder how many associates would get more appellate experience if they just got convicted of a felony or two.”
A little more discussion — as well as a shout-out to another pseudo-lawyer with criminal tendencies, Brian Valery — after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Jailhouse Lawyer of the Day: Michael Ray
(Plus an update on ‘fake lawyer’ Brian Valery)”

Sports and the Law Above the Law blog.jpg[Ed. note: This is the second column by ATL's new sports columnist, Marc Edelman. You can read more about Marc, and check last week's inaugural column (in case you missed it), by clicking here.]
Twenty-one year old South African runner Oscar Pistorius had his heart set on running the 400-meter event at the 2008 Summer Olympics. However, on January 14, the International Association of Athletics Federations (“IAAF”) ruled that Pistorius was ineligible to compete because he has artificial legs.
According to the IAAF, Pistorius’s j-shaped carbon-fiber prosthetics (sometimes known as “cheetahs”) give him an advantage over runners with natural legs. As a result, the IAAF put the kibosh on what should have been the feel-good story of the 2008 Beijing games.
The story of Oscar Pistorius is truly remarkable. Born with a congenital disease that prevented the fibula in his legs from forming properly, Pistorius, at the age of 11 months, had both of his legs amputated below the knee. A few years later, he was fitted with his first prosthetics.
Read the rest of the column, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Sports and the Law: Oscar Pistorius’s Claim has Strong Legs to Stand on”

Today’s ATL / Lateral Link survey is inspired by Super Tuesday. We’ve included political figures in our surveys last month, and featured a major political fundraiser as a Job of the Week the month before, but on Super Tuesday, politics rise to a whole new level.
So, as Barack and Hillary go toe to toe and Romney goes Reagan to Reagan with McCain, are the political tensions seeping into the workplace?

whale tail sonar Navy AboveTheLaw blog.jpg* Three lawyers, plus one guy who likes to tell lawyer jokes, do battle in Super Tuesday: forty-three presidential nominating contests, across 24 states. [New York Times; Washington Post]
* Save the whales? Federal judge reinstates sonar rules — and benchslaps the Bush Administration for trying to exempt the Navy from them. [How Appealing (linkwrap)]
* The trouble with tribunals (of the military kind, at Guantanamo Bay). [New York Times]
* Jury finds former Credit Suisse banker guilty of insider trading. Don’t those i-bankers make enough money? [DJ Newswires via WSJ Law Blog]
* The same goes for Biglaw partners. John J.P. Howley, a former Kaye Scholer partner who ran the firm’s pro bono program, pleads guilty to a tax charge (failure to file). [WSJ Law Blog]

associate bonus watch 2007 law firm Above the Law blog.jpgA number of you have requested, in comments and via email, a post to talk about compensation issues at Jones Day. So here you go.
We’ll kick off the discussion with this message we received:

I have recently noticed a number of postings relating to Jones Day D.C.’s lack of a bonus and non-competitive / non-transparent salary scale. For what it’s worth, a friend of mine left Jones Day as a third year associate. Compensation as a third year: $175k. My friend knew of others that were in the third year class making $175k; however, my friend knew of a few other associates making $170k, and even one third year associate that was making $160k. This was AFTER Jones Day D.C. made the move to $160k.

Talk about compression, $5k between a first year and third year. Maybe some of these Jones Day posters do have something to gripe about?

We don’t really know, due to Jones Day’s overall lack of transparency when it comes to associate compensation (beyond the first year). But let’s try and find out what the deal is. If you have associate compensation information about Jones Day, including but not limited to the Washington D.C. office, please share what you know in the comments, or email us. Thanks.

* Law professor Paul Horwitz has “a PIMP cane” (apparently acquired in the medical assistance section of RiteAid). [PrawfsBlawg; Thank You Ma'am]
* Some people hate lawyers, but one lawyer in particular incites amazing hatred. Opines law prof Stanley Fish: “The closest analogy [to Hillary-hating] is to anti-Semitism.” [Think Again]
* A weird link sent to us by a tipster. “This has absolutely nothing to do with the law, but we use computers a lot, and this is a new way to clean computer screens.” [SmoothNarketplace]
* Blawg Review #145: The Super Bowl Edition. [What About Clients via Blawg Review]

Isaac Lidsky Isaac J Lidsky Saved By the Bell Above the Law Blog.jpgTaken as a group, Supreme Court clerks can claim pretty much every honor under the sun. At One First Street, Rhodes and Marshall scholars are commonplace, law review editors-in-chief are a dime a dozen, and law school valedictorians abound.
But how many SCOTUS clerks have their own IMDb entry? Meet Isaac Lidsky (Harvard 2004 / Ambro), an attorney at the Department of Justice (Civil Appellate), who was selected last week by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor as her law clerk for October Term 2008. He founded the non-profit Hope for Vision, and his bio there reads:

[Isaac] is an honors graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, and he served as a law clerk to the Honorable Judge Thomas Ambro of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Before law school, Isaac founded Poindexter Systems, a now thriving internet advertising technology company in Manhattan. Isaac has been involved in raising awareness and funding for vision research for many years. He has organized several fundraising events, has appeared in the national media to promote awareness of the cause, has testified about the need for scientific funding before Congressional bodies on numerous occasions, and has served as a mentor to younger individuals afflicted with eye diseases. He has retinitis pigmentosa.

From a tipster:

I wonder if he is the first blind law clerk on the Supreme Court. I also wonder whether he’s the first clerk to have thrown out the first pitch at an MLB game.

[Before law school,] Isaac had a prior life as a child actor. His most notable role, I believe, was as Barton “Weasel” Wyzell (the new Screech) on Saved by the Bell: The New Class.

Awesome. Fay Diplomas and Sears Prizes pale in comparison next to the experience of having acted opposite Dennis Haskins (aka “Mr. Belding”).
Also hired as a Supreme Court clerk, but for October Term 2009: Bessie Dewar (Yale 2006 / W. Fletcher / L. Pollak (E.D. Pa.)). She’s been described to us as “brilliant,” “wonderfully charismatic,” and “one of nicest, most smiling people to grace the halls of the Yale Law School.”
The current tally of OT 2008 and OT 2009 SCOTUS clerks, with Isaac Lidsky and Bessie Dewar added, appears after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Supreme Court Clerk Hiring Watch: Saved By the Bell Star To Clerk for Justice O’Connor!
(And another OT 2009 hire, by Justice Breyer)”

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]

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