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Whoops! This reader poll has been closed for a while, but we forgot to report back to you about the results.
Here’s what we asked you, and how you voted:
atl poll results billable hours 1 Above the Law.jpg
And here’s a reminder of why we conducted the poll. A reader wrote to us:

Would you consider a poll asking how many hours people at the biglaw firms who just received salary comps are working? I’m at a second-tier biglaw firm (am law 100 with nyc, dc, cali offices + regional markets) that’s considering what to do with compensation.

The reluctance to matching [the $160K payscale] is expressed as “associates at those firms just bill more hours than our associates do.” An empirical — though not necessarily scientific — survey would be helpful to confirm or debunk that position.

Based on these results, the obvious observation is that the median respondent bills somewhere between 2100 and 2200 hours. So if your associates are billing out at standard Biglaw rates, and bill at least 2100 hours a year on average, it would seem that your firm can afford to be on the $160,000 pay scale.
Other thoughts? We aren’t particularly good at parsing statistics. So we look forward to reading your comments.
P.S. This poll is closed, but two other polls about billable hours remain open. You can vote in them by clicking here.
Earlier: ATL Reader Poll: We Know How Much You Make. But How Hard Do You Work?

sandra day o'connor 2 justice o'connor.jpgNewsweek has an interesting article about retired Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O’Connor. The gist of the piece is that even though Justice O’Connor is longer on the Court, she’s still extremely busy. Since her SCOTUS retirement, she has served on the Iraq Study Group, which published its report not too long ago; sat by designation on circuit courts (by our count, at least three — the Second, Eighth, and Ninth); worked on books; and delivered speeches, including vigorous defenses of “judicial independence.”
The most noteworthy material concerns the timing of Justice O’Connor’s departure from the Court:

O’Connor carefully weighed when to quit the bench. In the spring of 2005, with Chief Justice William Rehnquist publicly battling thyroid cancer, the two justices discussed timing. “We talked a little bit,” O’Connor recalls. “I was concerned about whether he had an intention to step down since his plans might have altered my own. It’s hard for the nation to grapple with two [retirements] at once,” she says. “He indicated he didn’t want to step down.” So she realized she had to go first.

And so she did, announcing her retirement on July 1, 2005. As it turned out, however, Chief Justice Rehnquist passed away about two months after SOC stepped down. So the nation did end up having to deal with two vacancies at the same time. (Then-Judge John Roberts was moved over to the Chief spot, after being nominated initially as an Associate Justice, and Judge Samuel Alito was subsequently appointed to replace Justice O’Connor.)
The article also reports unfortunate news concerning Justice O’Connor’s husband, John Jay O’Connor III:

After O’Connor was freed from her daily duties at the court—it took six months before Alito took her seat—John’s condition deteriorated. Last summer she reluctantly placed him in a care center near their home in Phoenix; she visits him often. “It’s such a miserable disease. It’s so sad. It’s so hard. I did the best I could,” she says. “He wants me there all the time.”

Justice O’Connor’s departure has left a void on the Court. And we’re not talking about making Justice Kennedy even more of an influential swing vote.
What we want to know is: Now that SOC is away from One First Street most of the time, who leads the morning aerobics classes at the Supreme Court gym — as Justice O’Connor used to do, on a daily basis before she retired? Although Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a cheerleader in her youth, she no longer seems like the aerobicizing type.
And don’t look to SOC’s replacement, Justice Samuel Alito. We adore Justice Alito as a jurist. But we don’t think we’re alone in not wanting to see him in spandex.
Justice: Bench Player [Newsweek via WSJ Law Blog]

H Rodgin Cohen 2 Chairman Aaron B Charney Aaron Brett Charney Sullivan Cromwell Above the Law Above the Law Above the Law ATL legal tabloid legal blog.JPGBloomberg News has a very good article about Sullivan & Cromwell v. Charney, the lawsuit filed by mega-firm S&C against its former associate, Aaron Charney. It’s more detailed than the New York Sun and articles that we mentioned this morning.
Some highlights:

Sullivan & Cromwell said in their complaint, filed in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan yesterday, that Charney improperly leaked privileged information to the media while publicizing his case. The firm said it fired him [last Wednesday].

So it’s official. Aaron Charney can now be referred to as an EX-associate at Sullivan & Cromwell.

“Charney has used the Charney complaint as the centerpiece of a malicious public relations campaign,” the firm said in court papers. The purpose of Charney’s lawsuit has been “to embarrass and denigrate Sullivan & Cromwell, and to name Sullivan & Cromwell’s clients unnecessarily as part of his campaign.”

Sullivan & Cromwell is seeking to prevent Charney from distributing internal law firm information, including partner memos, rankings and client data, and return it to them. The suit also seeks unspecified punitive and compensatory damages.

No wonder S&C itself has been so tight-lipped about the litigation. They’re going after Charney for parting his lips a few too many times.

The law firm claimed that Charney, who worked in the firm’s Mergers and Acquisitions Group, “gratuitously” identified clients and revealed confidential information obtained while representing such clients….

The law firm claimed Charney obtained a copy of the firm’s partnership agreement and distributed it as an attachment to his lawsuit, which he posted on his own personal Web site and an Internet Web site called “”

The law firm also alleged that he improperly obtained confidential personnel data from clients and transactions which he later shared with the media, such as the Wall Street Journal and a Canadian television program.

Sullivan & Cromwell also said Charney misappropriated an internal law firm slideshow presentation made to partners which addressed morale issues. The presentation was later obtained by the Wall Street Journal, which quoted from it. The documents were from a partner whose office was next to Charney’s, the suit claimed, and are now missing.

If these allegations are true, it’s not a good thing for Charney’s post-S&C legal career. Stealing documents may look all glamorous and sexy on TV and in the movies; but in real life, it’s not always a great idea.
(How many times has Aaron Charney watched “The Firm”?)
P.S. Yes, we know — our site thrives on people leaking documents to us. But we don’t force anyone to send us stuff; people do so of their own free will. And they’re usually lawyers, so they are aware of the possible consequences.

George Hunter George D Hunter Above the Law Above the Law.jpgIf Aaron Charney’s lawsuit against Sullivan & Cromwell is to be believed, some S&C lawyers think that Canadians are “irrelevant.”
Feel free to debate the relevance in Canadians in the comments. One thing that can be said for them, though, is that their lawyers have pretty good sex scandals.
From an article in the Toronto Star, by the provocatively named Tracey Tyler (who is a guy for all we know):

The former head of the governing body for Ontario lawyers has been suspended from practising for 60 days after admitting to a sexual affair with a client. George Hunter, 59, offered an emotional apology to his colleagues, family and ex-lover yesterday after pleading guilty to professional misconduct.

The irony here is too rich. Maybe all those years of administering slaps on the wrists to lawyers who improperly slept with clients got Hunter thinking, “Maybe I should give this a whirl?”[FN 1]

The relationship ended abruptly after Hunter asked X.Y. to meet him at an Ottawa restaurant, where he informed her that during the time they had been sexually involved, he had also had affairs with two other women….

In a move that might be worthy of entry in the annals of unromantic gestures, Hunter, just before disclosing those affairs, presented X.Y. with a copy of section 2.04 of the law society’s Rules of Professional Conduct.

It deals with conflicts of interest between lawyers and clients. Hunter wanted X.Y. to acknowledge that she had read it….

And THIS is why George Hunter is ATL’s Lawyer of the Day. Say what you will about Hunter, but the man was a LAWYER — to the bitter and embarrassing end.
[FN1] We say “improperly” because, as noted by the Globe and Mail, “[t]here are no professional or statutory rules in Canada which prohibit lawyers from having sexual relations with clients. [There are simply] conflict of interest codes which restrict lawyers from sexual relations with clients without informed consent and when the relationship might harm the client’s interests.”
In this case, Hunter admitted to misconduct. So there’s no claim that his affair — or the two other affairs he had while having affair #1 — were above board.
Sex with client sinks top lawyer [Toronto Star]
Ex-Law Society official suspended for affair with client [Globe & Mail]
Law Society of Upper Canada investigates former Treasurer [The Lawyers Weekly]
George D. Hunter bio [Borden Ladner Gervais]

100 dollar bill Above the Law Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPGHere’s the lunchtime open thread for discussion of associate salary developments. In the morning thread, there are rumors about various announcement that allegedly have (or have not) been made. Please send us whatever info you have, so we can verify and post.
After the jump, the Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe announcement, which made the rounds on Friday.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Skaddenfreude: Orrick, and Lunchtime Open Thread”

Aaron Charney 2 headshot Aaron B Charney Aaron Brett CharneyWe’re still trying to get the motion papers in Sullivan & Cromwell v. Charney, the lawsuit S&C has filed against its (former) associate. Unfortunately, we haven’t had any luck just yet.
We’ve contacted some MSM friends who have been following the case, but they either don’t have the documents or aren’t willing to share them. We contacted S&C’s counsel, Zach Fasman of Paul Hastings, to see if he might be able to provide us with copies — which, as we noted in our email, are publicly filed. He wrote back: “No comment” (and with no attachments).
We’re coming up to New York on Thursday, to attend the hearing before Justice Bernard Fried. So we will try to get the documents ourselves, in person, at that time. But we would obviously appreciate it if someone could get copies to us earlier.
In the meantime, we’re curious to see whether S&C’s going on the offensive has affected public opinion. Ever since we opened our Charney v. S&C poll, Aaron Charney has been polling between 60 and 65 percent. But maybe this will change, now that S&C has turned the tables on Charney, accusing him of wrongdoing and misconduct in court filings of its own.
The poll appears below. Please note that you are permitted to change your vote (so feel free to do so if S&C’s countersuit has affected your views):

And, of course, there’s our second poll, concerning the possible monetary value of Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell. We previously thought the poll might be an interesting gauge of the case’s settlement value. But in light of S&C’s apparent brass-knuckles approach, what Charney’s case might settle for is just a matter of academic curiosity.
Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of Aaron Charney and Sullivan & Cromwell (scroll down)

Shanetta Cutlar 2 Shanetta Y Cutlar Shanetta Brown Cutlar DOJ SPL Special Litigation Section Civil Rights Division.jpgLast month we wrote about how Docket Review is conducted over at the Justice Department’s Special Litigation Section (SPL). Attorneys who have worked under Shanetta Cutlar, chief of the section, have described Docket Review with her as an excruciating experience.
Since then, we’ve received some more information about the process. A recent email from a former SPL employee begins:

Many, including myself, are so grateful for your Shanetta Cutlar coverage. Many are able to vent and tell their true stories — or shall I say nightmares.

Your coverage has been lighthearted in tone. But with all due repect, the unprofessional mental, emotional and physical cruelty inflicted by Shanetta is indeed a FACT. This is a cry for help.

Many staff members, including deputies, have complained of physical illness related to the toxic stressful working environment within the Special Litigation Section. Some SPL staff have complained of severe headaches, viomitting and diarrhea.

Continued commentary, including a behind-the-scenes look at “Docket Review,” after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “More About Docket Review With Shanetta Cutlar”

100 dollar bill Above the Law Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPGThe latest round of associate pay raises is coming to a close. Most of the biggest shops have already announced, and the salary scales in the different cities are become fairly clear. The pace of announcements is also slowing down — a sign that we’re in the endgame.
Even though things are winding down, we are still happy to receive and publish compensation memos and emails. Please send announcements to us by email.
After the jump, we reprint some confirmed announcements from different offices of Morgan Lewis & Bockius. We thank the various tipsters who sent them in to us.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Skaddenfreude: Morgan Lewis & Bockius, and Morning Open Thread”

H Rodgin Cohen 2 Chairman Aaron B Charney Aaron Brett Charney Sullivan Cromwell Above the Law Above the Law Above the Law ATL legal tabloid legal blog.JPGAs previously discussed in these pages, Sullivan & Cromwell isn’t taking Aaron Charney’s lawsuit lying down. To the contrary, they have turned around and filed their own suit against Charney.
We summed up this development as follows: “Aaron, Biglaw is about to get medieval on your ass. You’re going to be bending over for Messrs. Sullivan and Cromwell. And this time around, they won’t ask nicely.”
Two news articles provide more details about S&C’s case against its former associate.
1. Law Firm Sues Ex-Employee [New York Sun]

A white-shoe law firm accused last month by one of its associates of discriminating against him because he is gay filed its own complaint against the lawyer, Aaron Brett Charney.

The firm, Sullivan & Cromwell, said last week that Mr. Charney broke his attorney-client privilege when he sought to embarrass the firm and its clients by publicizing his complaint in the press and on an Internet discussion board called Greedy Associates.

The firm also suggested that Mr. Charney stole proprietary documents from an office adjacent to his, and then leaked them to the Wall Street Journal.

Stealing documents from your neighbor’s office? How juicy! We’ve always viewed people who lock their offices whenever they’re not in them — e.g., even if they’re just stepping away for a few minutes to go to the bathroom — as being a bit paranoid. But maybe they’re just being smart.
(Also, we’re a little confused by the Sun’s discussion of the attorney-client privilege issue here. We wish we could see the S&C court filings ourselves.)

The suit was filed in Manhattan Supreme Court on behalf of Sullivan & Cromwell by another New York firm, Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker. They ask a judge to force Mr. Charney to return the documents and award the firm unspecified damages.

2. Sullivan sues its own associate []
We wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the author of this article is a reader of ATL.

Sullivan claims that Charney broke his attorney-client privilege, bringing the 125-year-old firm into disrepute when he published his grievances on a website,, before officially bringing them to firm management.

It is understood that a hearing is scheduled for 8 February at Manhattan’s Supreme Court.

Charney’s biography has also been taken down from the firm’s website in the last few days. Up until last week, both Sullivan and Charney stressed the fact that he was still an employee of the firm, although Charney said he was told not to come to the office while an internal investigation was ongoing.

Sullivan is also claiming that Charney stole and leaked documents to the press.

As we’ve said before, we’d be eternally grateful for a copy of S&C’s moving papers. If you can get your hands on a copy, please email us. Thanks.
Earlier: Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell — Or Should We Say, Sullivan & Cromwell v. Charney?
Prior ATL coverage of Aaron Charney and Sullivan & Cromwell (scroll down)

* What’s DNA anyway? Just three little letters. Probably stands for “did not attack”. [New York Times via How Appealing]
* It’s called the first f***ing amendment; look into it. [CNN]
* Switzerland allows physician-assisted suicide for sufferers of incurable mental disorders (but they must first establish the rational and “well-considered” basis for their decision). [Jurist]
* In a nod to the Super Bowl, WSJ Law Blog inducts members into the Law Blog Football Hall of Fame (congratulations Peyton, even though I was going for the Bears). [WSJ Law Blog]
* Judge temporarily keeps website from exposing Paris; unclear whether she’ll keep from exposing herself in the meantime. [AP via Yahoo!]

As some of you have noticed, several reader comments posted over the weekend have mysteriously vanished. A few people wondered whether they were deliberately deleted.
For the record, these reader comments were not removed on purpose. We are in the process of upgrading the technology behind the site — a process that’s still ongoing. Unfortunately, these comments were lost during a server switch.
We’ll see if the missing comments can be retrieved from the ether (although we are not optimistic). We apologize for the inconvenience, and we thank you for your patience.
P.S. Please note that the “we” in this post refers to Dead Horse Media and Logicworks, not to “me,” David Lat (because I have no control over, or responsibility for, technological issues or problems; I just work on the editorial side of things).

H Rodgin Cohen 2 Chairman Aaron B Charney Aaron Brett Charney Sullivan Cromwell Above the Law Above the Law Above the Law ATL legal tabloid legal blog.JPGWe just got back from dinner with lawyer friends, where everyone mourned the apparent passing of Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell. Earlier today, it seemed that this lawsuit — which has riveted legal gossip circles — was on the brink of settlement.
As we pointed out this afternoon, something was definitely going on in the case. Aaron Charney was no longer listed on the S&C website. He wasn’t returning our emails, and when we finally reached him by phone, the usually chatty plaintiff refused to speak to us. When we contacted Sullivan & Cromwell partner Theodore Rogers, he was also quite cagey.
In short, the parties were acting weird — very weird. We felt a great deal of tension in the air. Something was definitely not “normal” (to the extent that anything about this lawsuit could be called “normal”).
We suspected a settlement was in the works (and even asked you to vote in a reader poll about the amount). But it turns out that nothing could have been further from the truth.
Reports of this lawsuit’s death have been greatly exaggerated (largely by yours truly). The legal warfare between Aaron Charney and Sullivan & Cromwell, far from going away, is actually ESCALATING. WOW!!!
Check out the fantastic comments to our last post. Or read this concise summary, emailed to us by a reader:

Sullivan & Cromwell filed its own action against Charney [yesterday] — and it was started by an order to show cause seeking a preliminary injunction!!!!

The case is on for next Thursday, February 8, before Judge Bernard Fried.

I think this means the case is far from settling, if S&C started their own lawsuit. I will try to get my hands on the complaint.

Mr. Charney, S&C is playing hardball — and you’re the ball. Biglaw is about to get medieval on your ass.
You’re going to be bending over for Messrs. Sullivan and Cromwell. And this time around, they won’t ask nicely.
ATL readers: Please email us with any information, tips, or rumors about the litigation. We are ESPECIALLY interested in getting our hands on S&C’s moving papers, which apparently were filed yesterday (February 1).
Treat this post as the open thread for all things Charney-licious. We will add, update, and tinker with it throughout the weekend. Refresh your browser for the latest — and check out the comments, too.
Fasten your seatbelts, everyone. For fans of Biglaw gossip, it’s going to be a bumpy — but hopefully entertaining — little ride.
Update (12:58 AM): Hey, guess what? You don’t need to read all 60+ comments to our most recent Aaron Charney post.
We’ve prepared a handy little digest of these comments. It appears after the jump.

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