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associate bonus watch 2007 law firm Above the Law blog.jpgFor non-New York associates of Sidley Austin, Monday is the big day. The firm just sent out a memo informing them that bonuses will be distributed at that time. As you may recall, the firm previously announced special bonuses, but only for its New York office — news that was not well-received outside of NYC.
If you’re hoping for hard numbers, you’ll be disappointed; the memo is rather vague. It states:

[W]e continue to determine bonuses on an individual basis and consistent with our culture and practice, will communicate with you individually about them. Because year-end bonuses remain discretionary and are tailored to individual circumstances, no description of the relevant factors could be exhaustive. As in recent years, however, we again have considered the hours that each associate has spent on chargeable, pro bono, and certain non-chargeable matters such as legal services to the Firm, as well as the quality of each associate’s work and other special contributions to the Firm.

You can read the whole thing, in all of its glorious opacity, after the jump.

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New York University Law School NYU Law School Above the Law.JPGLaw school list serve trainwrecks are a staple here at ATL. We’ve written about several — see, e.g., Cumberland Law School; Washington University School of Law — and they tend to be popular with readers.
A student at NYU Law School brought a recent listserv debacle to our attention:

[This listserve controversy] touches on many law school and other legal topics. They include grades, finals, state vs. T14 schools, Jesus, the Constitution, Jesus vs. the Constitution, and [people] who were arrested at Harvard [see April 24, 2:21 AM entry] and feel the need to announce it to the whole law school.

Perhaps it’s just exam stress all around, but having just taken my crim pro final earlier today, the last bit made things extra hilarious.

The reader then included several emails from the thread. But fortunately for us, another NYU law student already collected and posted them over here (which saves us the trouble of cutting and pasting).
More after the jump.

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Here are the results from yesterday’s Featured Job Survey, brought to you by ATL and Lateral Link, which inquired into billing rates.
More than 700 of you responded to yesterday’s survey, not counting a few dubious entries. In case you were wondering, yes, we really do discard your response if you claim to be billing out at $25 an hour at Sullivan & Cromwell. We’re asking for your rates for legal services.
For those of you wondering what the average rate for an hour of lawyerly time is these days — and whether your firm is selling you cheap — here are the national averages based on our (admittedly unscientific) survey:
Average Hourly Rates By Class.jpg
How many associates think they’re worth more than that? Find out, after the jump.

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ski skiier skiing Morgan Lewis Bockius Stratton Mountain Above the Law blog.jpgLast month, Morgan Lewis & Bockius issued a bonus non-announcement — a placeholder memo, indicating that bonus news would be forthcoming.
Perhaps MLB associates have reason to be optimistic. The firm must be saving some money, since it’s making associates pay their own way on the ski trip of Business and Finance Practice Group. Our tipster observes: “[T]his is yet another reflection of Morgan Lewis’ caring attitude.”
When law firms hold “destination events” — e.g., the Boies Schiller firm meeting in Jamaica, the Kirkland & Ellis retreat at the Hotel Hershey, and other retreats mentioned here — they often pay for their associates to attend. But there’s no rule holding that they must do so, especially if attendance is voluntary (which is the case here).
And hey — at least the firm has negotiated a special ML&B discount!
(ML&B ski trip memo, after the jump.)

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associate bonus watch 2007 law firm Above the Law blog.jpgOur recent open thread about boutique law firms prompted another request for more beyond-Biglaw discussion:

Not really a tip, but how ’bout a thread on midsize firms — not quite big law, which has been going on for a while, and not quite boutique, which you just recently posted. I’m talking 75-200 attorney type firms that still pay $125K-$150K base in New York (don’t know much about other regions).

Our tipster provided a few examples of the firms in question, with starting salaries (note — we have not independently verified these numbers):

pryor cashman – 140k
anderson kill – 140k
herrick feinstein – 150k
otterbourg – 150k
olshan grundman – 150k
fox rothschild (philly-based) – 125k

If you have information to share on year-end bonuses (or compensation more generally) at midsize / regional law firms, please share in the comments. It would be optimal if you could identify the firm by name; but if you can’t, please provide as much information as possible. Thanks.
Earlier: Associate Bonus Watch: Beyond Biglaw

gorilla lawyer ad advertisement advertising Above the Law blog.jpgThe ethical rules governing advertising by lawyers are designed in large part to protect the public from misleading pitches. But maybe it’s the lawyers who need protecting — from themselves.
If these lawyers scratch themselves inappropriately during meetings, or hog the cold cuts at lunch, don’t say they didn’t warn you.
Magilla Gorilla, Esq. [copyranter]
Earlier: Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My — Is It a Law Firm Ad Campaign?

Here’s the latest Job of the Week, courtesy of ATL’s career partner, Lateral Link. If you’re not already a member of Lateral Link, you can sign up through their website. Membership, which is free and confidential, allows you to learn about new legal opportunities as they become available.
Position: Staff Counsel
Company: ActBlue
Location: Boston, MA
Position Description: Staff Counsel will report to Executive Director. Initial responsibilities will include:
• Research of campaign finance laws and regulations at the federal, state and local levels.
• Developing and implementing legal and lobbying strategies to expand ActBlue’s ability to operate at the state level.
• Ensuring compliance with all applicable campaign finance and privacy laws.
• Cultivating relationships with election offices and local campaign finance attorneys across the country.
• Responding to legal inquiries and complaints.
Additional information, after the jump.

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associate bonus watch 2007 law firm Above the Law blog.jpgWe have confirmed the rumor that has surfaced here and there in the comments: Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz once again paid year-end bonuses to its associates that were 100 percent of their base salaries (which are already above-market; starting salary at WLRK is $165,000). This is consistent with past practice; Wachtell has paid 100 percent bonuses for several years running now.
Due to the new “special bonus,” the gap between Wachtell associates and their counterparts at other top shops, while still large, isn’t as enormous as it has been in the past. But when you’re a senior associate taking home roughly $600,000, it’s not very gracious to complain.
P.S. Disclosure: We worked at Wachtell from 2000 – 2003. For our thoughts on that experience, click here.
Earlier: Associate Bonus Watch: Wachtell Lipton Windfalls

* So, it’s gonna be illegal now, which means the CIA can’t do it, right? [Washington Post via How Appealing]
* New Jersey gets rid of the death penalty; now if they could just tackle that disgusting odor. [BBC]
* Prosecutors go 0-1-6 in Sears Tower trial. [CNN]
* Hey, look everybody! International law! They’ve got a court with judges and lawyers and stuff, and they even issue rulings! Just like it’s real! That’s cute. ICJ upholds treaty giving islands to Colombia. [Jurist]
* Hollywood writers take this strike thing up a notch. [AP via Reno Gazette-Journal]

100 dollar bill Abovethelaw Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPGSo yes, it’s true. The rumor that Boies, Schiller & Flexner has raised starting salaries to $168,000, which has surfaced here and there in the comments, has been confirmed for us by a knowledgeable source. The news was announced last weekend at the firm meeting in Jamaica.
As for the rest of the scale, second-years make $180,000, and then there are $21,000 jumps each year thereafter (i.e., $201,000, $222,000, etc.). Additional changes to the old Boies compensation system — primarily relating to contigency cases, which the firm does a fair amount of (and earns major moolah from) — are being considered, but have not yet been finalized.
Now, as you may recall from this earlier post, BSF is perhaps sui generis when it comes to associate compensation matters. Associate compensation is actually directly tied to the revenue that each associate generates for the firm. So their move to $168K is not as exciting as if, say, a firm with a more traditional compensation structure — a Cravath or Sullivan or Simpson — made such a move.
But hey, it’s still good news; the new base rates are indeed a raise over what Boies associates previously earned. But recall that, at least in the major (New York / Westchester / D.C.) offices, base salary is just an advance on total compensation, and bonus is the difference. And in the major offices, it’s really all about the bonus.
Anyway, stay tuned. If you’re at Boies and can provide us with more detail, please feel free to email us. Thanks.
P.S. Sorry for the radio silence. The new servers that we’re expecting in 2008 are needed now (as we’ve repeatedly told our bosses).
Earlier: Associate Bonus Watch: Associate Compensation Overhaul at Boies Schiller?

George Mitchell former Senator George J Mitchell baseball steroids MLB Above the Law blog.jpgA major legal story that’s related to sports? Oh noes! We are completely ignorant.
But we’ve collected some links about former Senator George Mitchell’s report on steroid use in major legal baseball. Feel free to discuss in the comments.
P.S. Would any of you be interested in writing a column for ATL on sports and the law? If so, please email us (subject line: “Sports Column”), and tell us a bit about yourself, your vision for such a column, possible topics, etc.
In 2008, we’re going to be making some changes to ATL — e.g., a site redesign, new servers, etc. — and bringing aboard some outside columnists is part of that plan. So feel free to send column ideas our way.
Thanks, bro. (Talking like a jock — it’s really not that hard.)
Steroid Report Implicates Top Players [New York Times]
Clemens, Tejada named in Report [Sports Illustrated / SI.com]
Law Blog Lawyer Of the Day: DLA’s George Mitchell [WSJ Law Blog]

Alberto Gonzales 5 Alberto R Gonzales Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgPart of a blogger’s job description is to shamelessly rip off stuff from the mainstream media. So we’re going to follow in the footsteps of the ABA Journal and the WSJ Law Blog, and name ATL’s first annual Lawyer of the Year. (Of course, it’s not that original an idea to begin with, insofar as it’s inspired by Time magazine’s Person of the Year.)
The WSJ crew is still accepting nominations, so we don’t know the identity of their pick. But the ABA Journal’s honoree for 2007, Alberto Gonzales, has generated some controversy. The Journal’s editor and publisher, Edward A. Adams, explained the pick to the Washington Post: “It’s about who has had the most effect in the world of lawyers this year. We’re not saying Gonzales is good or bad. We’re just saying this is the leading newsmaker in our part of the world.”
Additional discussion, plus how to submit your nomination for ATL’s Lawyer of the Year, after the jump.

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