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  • 21 Dec 2007 at 12:35 PM
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Mayer Brown: WLFWALF?

Mayer Brown new logo Above the Law blog.jpgTime for some quick follow-up on yesterday’s intriguing email about “an exciting, transformational event” for Mayer Brown. As we speculated, the big news is a merger announcement.
From an article by Ameet Sachdev the Chicago Tribune:

Mayer Brown plans to announce Friday an agreement to join forces with a large Hong Kong firm in a deal that would dramatically expand the Chicago law firm’s Asian presence, the Chicago Tribune has learned.

Mayer Brown is teaming up with Johnson, Stokes & Master, one of Hong Kong’s oldest law firms known for its stellar reputation in banking and finance, also a strength of Mayer’s.

Note that it’s “Stokes,” not “Strokes.” A firm named “Johnson, Strokes & Master” surely would have made this list of funny law firm names. In Asia, the firm will be known as Mayer Brown JSM (which mercifully contains no “i”; but note that “jism” is a legitimate word, and a good way to get rid of your “J” if you enjoy online Scrabble, as we do).
An ATL source at the firm reports:

We just got out of the worldwide meeting they had for associates and counsel, and I thought it was pretty exciting. In its presentations in the past, it has always mentioned that it wanted to have a significant Asia presence. They said that JSM was one of the top law firms in Asia, and the complementary mix of practice groups and clients will lead to lots of “synergies” (that was the big buzz word).

Something you might find interesting — they put up a new chart ranking law firms by worldwide revenue. We jumped from 13th (with $1.1bn) to 10th (with $1.35bn). JSM last year had about $130 million in revenue on only 41 partners. I’m pretty psyched about it….

Despite $1.3 billion in revenue and 1800 lawyers, the merged firm plans to expand further. From the Financial Times:

The firms expect to grow substantially after the merger. Mr Holzhauer projects annual revenue to hit $2bn ”very quickly” and Ms Lo predicts earnings of $4bn within two to three years. ”This kind of growth cannot be obtained by just organic growth alone,” said Ms Lo.

Up to now, Mayer Brown’s Asia presence has been limited to one office in Hong Kong and a representative office in Beijing. JSM, whose clients include HSBC, Bank of China and Cathay Pacific, has 200 lawyers in mainland China, but none outside Asia.

Meanwhile, in other MB news, the firm just announced New York bonuses. Memo after the jump.
Mayer Brown to merge with big Hong Kong firm [Chicago Tribune]
Mayer Brown merging with Hong Kong’s JSM [Financial Times]
Earlier: Mayer Brown Is A Woman Now

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Mayer Brown: WLFWALF?”

We’ve previously reported on improved parental leave policies at Latham & Watkins, Davis Polk, and Simpson Thacher. We predicted that “with respect to maternity leave for birth mothers, 18 weeks will become the new ‘market rate.'”
Perhaps it already is. Tipsters have written in to advise us that Sullivan & Cromwell and Weil Gosthal & Manges went to 18 weeks some time ago — S&C back in August, and Weil in September.
For anyone who is interested, more details appear after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Biglaw Perk Watch: S&C and Weil Also Up Parental Leave”

associate bonus watch 2007 law firm Above the Law blog.jpgAs you may recall, the reaction of ATL readers to the bonus announcement of O’Melveny & Myers was decidedly unfavorable. Now the Daily Journal (subscription) — in an article entitled “O’Melveny & Myers’ Below-Market Bonus Disappoints Associates,” by Maya Meinert and Rebecca Cho — has taken notice:

This week’s bonus announcement from Los Angeles-based firm O’Melveny & Myers has caused much dismay among associates in the firm’s California and Washington, D.C., offices – the law blog’s post on the subject generated more than 200 comments – because the standard bonuses remain unchanged from last year and are well below what is considered “market,” based on New York numbers.

Should other major players in California pay more, O’Melveny could feel the impact among its associate ranks, industry observers said.

According to a memo obtained by, O’Melveny’s standard bonuses range from $27,500 for first-year associates to $45,000 for those in their seventh year and beyond. The bonuses are tied to a rating system based on the firm’s expectations and a minimum billable-hour requirement of 1,950.

More excerpts and discussion, including the firm’s reaction when contacted by the Daily Journal, appears after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: O’Melveny & Myers Defends Its ‘Below-Market’ Bonuses”

* CIA to cooperate with investigation of alleged torture tapes. [Newsweek]
* The Jamie Lynn Spears pregnancy and statutory rape laws. Discuss. [CNN]
* California may face an uphill battle in taking its bid to limit greenhouse gases to the D.C. Circuit. [Los Angeles Times via How Appealing]
* Manslaughter trial that allegedly originated from MySpace messages goes to jury. [CNN]
* Interesting issues arise in New Jersey gang cases. [New York Times]
* Milberg Weiss trial will stay in L.A. [
New York Sun via How Appealing; WSJ Law Blog]

Norman Schoenfeld Allen Overy LLP Above the Law blog.jpgWe have to step out for a bit (company holiday party). We’ve only skimmed this Complaint (PDF), just filed in the Southern District of New York, by a Jewish lawyer against his former employer, Allen & Overy.
Check out the Complaint for yourself, by clicking here (PDF), and offer your thoughts in the comments. We look forward to reviewing your reflections when we return.
P.S. A special request: nicknames for this lawsuit, a la “Brokeback Lawfirm” for the Aaron Charney case, are especially welcome.
Complaint: Norman Schoenfeld v. Allen & Overy (PDF)
Update: Here is the firm’s statement, emailed to us by a spokesperson:

Allen & Overy denies all allegations of discrimination. This person’s employment was terminated based solely on performance within his orientation period, a trial period of time mandated for all employees. He also failed to disclose to Allen & Overy the fact of his previous employment at another law firm.

Our firm has a strict written policy prohibiting any form of discrimination, and we provide all new employees and partners training in both diversity awareness and harassment prevention. Over the past several years, we have also instituted live diversity training for all of our existing attorneys and managers. We will vigorously defend our proud reputation of diversity and inclusion and are confident of a positive outcome for Allen & Overy with respect to these allegations.

We’ll write more about this later. If you have any firsthand information to pass along about the events in question, please email us. Thanks.

* Who says lawyers can’t be stylish? [Fashionista]
* Guess this makes Judge Porteous officially worse than Judge Kent. [New Orleans Times-Picayune]
* Should federal judges be barred from reading blogs? [Volokh Conspiracy]
* Of course not. Unless they’re written by robots. [Overlawyered]

Following in the footsteps of Latham & Watkins and Simpson Thacher, whose moves were first reported in these pages, Davis Polk has just adopted a new and improved “Primary Caregiver Leave” policy.
We predict that, with respect to maternity leave for birth mothers, 18 weeks will become the new “market rate.” One tipster quips: “Four and a half months of paid time off almost makes me want to have kids.”
Here’s the email, which went out around half an hour ago:

From: **** On Behalf Of Management Committee
Sent: Thursday, December 20, 2007 3:07 PM
To: all.lawyers
Subject: Primary Caregiver Leave Policy

We are pleased to announce that, effective immediately, the firm has adopted a new Primary Caregiver Leave policy, which will provide lawyers who are primary caregivers to a newborn or newly adopted child with up to six weeks of paid leave within the first six months of the birth or adoption of a child. This leave is in addition to the other parental and disability/maternity leaves offered by the firm. For example, a Davis Polk associate who gives birth and is the child’s primary caregiver will now be eligible for up to 18 weeks of paid leave.

For additional information about the new Primary Caregiver Leave policy and the policies on Parental Leave and Disability/Maternity Leave, please consult the Lawyers’ Handbook.

Thank you.

So far we’re up to around 1,200 responses to Monday’s ATL / Lateral Link survey, which asks you how big your bonus was (or is going to be).
So far we’ve told you about New York and Washington, DC. Today, we’re adding a third city. It was a close call between L.A., San Francisco, or Chicago, but we got a few more responses from Chicago, so it’s today’s new city.
We’re still accepting responses to the survey, and the more (valid) responses we get from your city, the more likely it is to be the next city we reveal. To participate, click here.
Check out the results, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Featured Job Survey Results: Bonuses (Chicago)”

Mayer Brown new logo Above the Law blog.jpgStill no bonus announcement from Mayer Brown. But check out this intriguing email, sent out in the last hour:

From: D’Esposito, Jr., Julian C.
Sent: Thursday, December 20, 2007 12:41 PM
To: FW-Assocs; FW-Cnsl
Cc: Holzhauer, James D.; Geller, Kenneth S.; Maher, Paul; Favoriti, Gail A.; Pepper, Margery; Madden, Emilie S.; Dabrowski, Heidi M.; Reichert, Kathleen S.; Harris, Robert; Staiano, David; Couleur, Nancy Jo; Belic, Indira; Burdett, Shannon T.; Burkes, Eugenia; Corby, Candice; Harris, Russell; Holthaus, John H.; Kennedy, Clinton D.; Kislow, Connie; Ku, Alice; Loessl, Angela-Katrin; Tulic, Vesna; Watson, John; Wells, Stephen R.

Subject: Firmwide Meeting on Friday, December 21

Please plan to attend a Firmwide video presentation by the office of the Chairman on December 21 that will describe an exciting, transformational event for the Firm. The meeting will begin promptly at 8am PST, 10am CST, 11 am EST, 2pm BRST, 4 GMT, 5 CET and 12 am Saturday HKST. The Director of Administration will inform you of the location of the meeting in your office. If you are out of the office, there will be a limited number of dial-in lines, the number for which can be obtained from the DoA. You should receive an Outlook calendar notice of this meeting later today.


Julian C. D’Esposito

Mayer Brown LLP
71 S. Wacker
Chicago, IL 60606

What could this “exciting, transformational event” be? We assume it’s not the recent indictment of partner Joseph Collins, since that’s already public.
Maybe a merger is in the works? It wouldn’t be the first in the firm’s history. The firm’s former name, Mayer Brown Rowe & Maw, reflected the merger of U.S.-based Mayer, Brown & Platt with U.K.-based Rowe & Maw.
Update: One tipster speculates:

I have no idea, but it is of course intriguing. Maybe we’re going public. (That would apply only to the English LLP of course. I think that it may be possible in the future but hadn’t seen any change in the law that would allow it now.)

So maybe it’s a merger. Or possibly the “exciting” change is that they are not going to give bonuses any more.

That would be “exciting” news — to rival firms, looking to raid the ranks of Mayer Brown lawyers.
Further Update: We’ve learned that tonight is the holiday party for the New York office. And still no word about bonuses…

The judicial fiefdom of Chief Judge Alex Kozinski is about to expand. From today’s Recorder (via How Appealing):

An extra seat for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals cleared Congress on Tuesday and is headed to President Bush’s desk.

The U.S. Senate unanimously passed the Court Security Improvement Act on Monday night, and the House of Representatives approved it on a voice vote Tuesday. Buried in that bill is language that removes one seat from the D.C. Circuit and moves it to the 9th.

Makes sense to us. Any court that takes the summer off, as the D.C. Circuit essentially does, isn’t exactly overwhelmed. Meanwhile, the Ninth Circuit is by far the nation’s largest and busiest federal appeals court. It’s so huge that it has been the subject of repeated attempts at a split (so far unsuccessful, perhaps because of the Ninth Circuit Curse).
As Dan Levine’s article notes, “the seat won’t materialize until Jan. 21, 2009 — the day after President Bush leaves office.” We have no doubt that President Hillary Clinton will be able to fill it with a distinguished jurist.
Indeed, President Clinton may be able to reshape the Ninth Circuit, in the same that President Carter reshaped it — in a way that still endures today, as reflected in the court’s strong leftward tilt. Many of the liberal lions who are eligible for senior status but have declined to take it, such as Judges Harry Pregerson and Stephen Reinhardt, may finally be willing to do so, once they know that the court’s future is in President Clinton’s capable hands.
Congress OKs Extra Seat for 9th Circuit [The Recorder via How Appealing]

S&C swag 1 small.jpgOur earlier open thread, about exam time “care packages” from law firms, remains active — over a week after it was posted. So we thought we’d do a follow-up, on what law firms are sending recruits for holiday gifts.
From one tipster:

How about a piece on what law firms are offering law students as Christmas gifts? I received a package from Nixon Peabody (where everyone’s a winner). It was a gray scarf, made in the USA with imported polyester (no s**t!) — and, of course, Nixon Peabody’s logo imprinted on it. I can always use a scarf, even if it is polyester, and the logo comes off with a knife (scraping).

And, of course, the market leader in swag — Sullivan & Cromwell, provider of the famed bonsai trees — is getting into the holiday spirit:

Attached are some pictures of the S&C holiday / exam swag (above right; thumbnail image, click to enlarge). It all came in a comically large box which I was hoping would lead to much jealousy from my roommates. Unfortunately, inside was a quite standard mug, hot chocolate, cookie combo – and, in a box of its own, a large, reversible fake wool blanket. On the reverse the blanket is a kind of synthetic raincoat material. Strange.

So what did your law firm, a former and/or future employee, send you to welcome the holiday season? Feel free to share in the comments.
(A picture of the “comically large” packaging, after the jump.)
Earlier: Does Your Law Firm Love You? An Open Thread on Exam Time Swag

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Law Firm Holiday Swag: What Did You Get?”

* Associates, rejoice. Congress passes AMT legislation. [New York Times]
* Guitar Hero injunction denied. [Detroit Free Press]
* White separatist group sues over Jena march. [MSNBC]
* U.S. executions on the decline. [Washington Post]
* New Holloway evidence to be revealed. [CNN]

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