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How much prestige does your school serve?

How far are we from getting real answers about the value proposition of going to law school? Pretty far, if you read the New York Times Week in Review. An article by Jacques Steinberg illustrates that researchers don’t even really know if receiving an elite undergraduate education is worth the price.

The Times asks: Is going to an elite college worth the cost? And it comes up with this answer: “It depends.” Thanks NYT. Is mainstream, old media publishing dying a slow death? It depends on how many people want to read articles like this on their Kindles.

Oh, I kid, Grey Lady. It’s not particularly satisfying, but the article provides support for believing whatever it is you believed before you read the article. Do you think that going to the most prestigious school that will accept you is the better long-term choice for your career? Great, you’re right. Do you think that, depending on your family situation, going to a cheaper state school is the right choice for you? Great, right again. Do you think that successful people will succeed? Awesome! The Times likes circles too.

Yay, everybody made the right decision. And since most of the research was done on people who made college choices ten years ago, the ridiculous inflation in the cost of education only makes it more obvious that people should do the right thing — whatever the hell that might be….

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In addition to the bonus announcement of Quinn Emanuel, late last week brought bonus news from the New York office of Mayer Brown. But the MB announcement was considerably less interesting.

It was essentially a match of the Cravath bonus scheme, but with a slight twist….

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[T]he supposed legal benefits of marriage are often illusory, and in any event they are probably more than offset by legally created burdens. Marriage confers fewer rights now, but still many obligations. The question for any mature couple then is simple: Why do it?

— Stanford law professor Ralph Richard Banks, in a Room for Debate post at NYTimes.com.

Smokers are not crazy. I know it seems like we’re crazy. I know what non-smokers think: “Why would you put something in your body that you know will give you cancer?” It’s not like the explanation is particularly complicated: 1) it’s a narcotic and people get addicted, and 2) some people aren’t terribly worried about dying.

Is that really so hard to understand? Not everybody wants to live “healthily.” Not everybody is desperate to live to 100. And some are prone to get addicted to drugs. That’s not crazy.

But don’t try telling that to the New York police. They arrested a man and threw him in a psychiatric ward for smoking on his window ledge. They claim they were worried that he was going to jump from the window ledge he was smoking on. The window was two stories off the ground.

Now the NYPD is getting sued, because this smoker is also a lawyer…

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CHECK YOU EMAIL — for some happy bonus news. On Friday, litigation powerhouse Quinn Emanuel announced its 2010 bonus schedule. And it was good.

It’s a little more complex than the standard bonus scale at a lockstep firm. As in years past, Quinn Emanuel bonuses reflect a combination of seniority and hours worked. But one associate provides this concise summary: “Quinn matches Cravath, plus hours increments of $5K at each hour state, plus additional 50% paid in June 2011. So this raises the bar.”

Says a second source at QE: “I’m relatively pleased. So many people are billing so many hours here (we’re swimming in work) that these bonuses will be very substantial. The reason for the June payout is pretty clearly that the firm is try to retain some associates. Our turnover is massive. Anyway, enjoy!”

So, in essence, Quinn is paying 150 percent of the widely adopted Cravath bonus scale, subject to two caveats: (1) there’s an hours requirement of 2100 hours to get the Cravath-level bonus, and (2) the additional 50 percent payment will be paid in June 2011, to associates in good standing and on pace with their hours at that time. (Think of the June payment as a retention bonus of sorts.)

Let’s take a look at the memo, which contains the fine print (such as treatment of pro bono hours), and which also mentions modest bonuses for class of 2010 members — a nice touch, considering that the “stub-year bonus” is a rare thing these days….

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Julie Kamps: her lawsuit against Fried Frank continues.

* Thanks Senate, but gay servicemembers now get to play another waiting game. How long will the certification process take? Don’t ask, because the administration isn’t going to tell. [New York Times; Wall Street Journal; Washington Post]

* Filibusted: with the DREAM Act’s failure, undocumented college graduates can’t get jobs. As a member of the lost generation, I have no sympathy. [Los Angeles Times; Washington Post]

* This weekend, our oh-so-prominent managing editor will be rockin’ around the Christmas tree with a karaoke mic in hand. Here are some song recs for you, Lat! [National Law Journal]

* What a Masshole. An ex-magistrate forced women to have sex in the courthouse. Karma’s a bitch — better watch your back in the slammer. [Boston Globe]

* 60% 61% of the time, it works every time. Under the leadership of Chief Justice John Roberts, the Supreme Court has shown considerable favor for business interests. [New York Times]

* Remember Julie Kamps? Hell hath no fury like a lesbian with a law degree. There’s nothing like showing the partners who’s boss to get you in the holiday spirit. [New York Law Journal]

* A Japanese woman is suing Google for showing her panties on Street View. Don’t they sell used panties in vending machines in Japan? What a puritan. [CNET]

* Joe Miller goes to the Alaska Supreme Court in another attempt to alter reality. Please stop beating this dead horse, Joe. It’s getting pretty sad. [New York Times]

Irving Picard

Rack up another win for trustee Irving Picard, the partner at Baker Hostetler who’s cleaning up the Bernard Madoff mess. On Friday, Picard and Preet Bharara, the headline-making U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced a $7.2 billion settlement with the estate of Jeffry Picower (no it’s not spelled “Jeffrey”).

Picower, a successful investor and prominent philanthropist, earned billions — both real, through investing with Goldman Sachs, and fictional, through investing with Madoff — before he died in October 2009. Picower was found dead in the swimming pool of his home in Palm Beach, apparently after suffering a heart attack (a plot device familiar to viewers of Brothers & Sisters and The OC). If he had held on until January 2010, Picower would have avoided the estate tax.

Of the $7.2 billion settlement, $5 billion will go to Picard, to settle the complaint he filed against Picower in bankruptcy court, and $2.2 billion will go to the Department of Justice — the largest civil forfeiture payment in U.S. history. All of this money will eventually find its way to qualifying Madoff victims.

Based on monies collected to date, what kind of recovery might Madoff’s victims be looking at?

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Here’s a nice surprise on this otherwise quiet Saturday afternoon in late December. The Senate just voted to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the legal ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military. The vote to repeal the law was 65-31, with eight Republicans joining the Democrats.

For additional discussion and analysis, see the links below.

Senate Repeals ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ [New York Times]
DADT Repeal Passes Senate 65-31, Heads to the President’s Desk [Poliglot / Metro Weekly]
Obama’s Long Game: 65 – 31 [The Daily Dish / Andrew Sullivan]

One Dedman School of Law student may be a dead man. He may have picked the wrong person’s wife to have an affair with.

Here’s the set-up: a husband suspects that his wife, a student at SMU Law School, is cheating on him with another SMU Law student.

So the husband sets up a video camera in the SMU Law parking garage… and hilarity ensues.

Oh, and did I mention that the cuckolded husband apparently has cancer? And that his wife looks like a blond hottie? Yeah, this is EXACTLY the kind of thing you’d expect to happen in Texas.

Of course there’s video of the whole thing, which you MUST check out….

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* You know, I think the National Organization for Women should just try to pretend that Hooters doesn’t exist. The restaurant is just going to piss them off; who needs the aggravation? [ABA Journal]

* If you trust legal advice you receive over Twitter, you’ve already lost. [Legal Blog Watch]

* Apparently, Iowa lawmakers see no use in having three independent branches of government. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Pretty cute comic strip on taking the LSAT, but they must have forgotten the panel where the dead grandmother applies hairspray to the correct answer choice. [LSAT Blog]

* Wow, the promissory estoppel guys have been surprisingly ineffective at breaking through the white noise. [Concurring Opinions]

* Dueling is still not cool for lawyers in Kentucky. [Lowering the Bar]

There’s no denying all the good news over at Sidley Austin. The firm just named 28 new partners, up from 15 last year. It recently snagged three leading litigators from Howrey: Gary Bendinger, who served as co-chair of litigation at Howrey, and two of his partners, Gregory Ballard and Kevin Burke.

And as we reported yesterday, Sidley paid out bonuses that made some of its associates very, very happy. Some associates received bonuses that were twice the Cravath scale.

But not all Sidley associates were quite this fortunate — and we have since heard from some of them. We also have the full Sidley memo.

A more balanced view of the Sidley Austin bonuses, plus the full memo, after the jump.

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This shouldn’t come as a shock, but Debevoise & Plimpton just announced its 2010 associate bonuses, and it is matching Cravath.

With so many top firms already matching Cravath — including several in the Vault’s top ten for prestige, such as Skadden, Davis Polk, and Weil Gotshal — is it less likely that Sullivan & Cromwell will try to beat Cravath, since “peer firms” are already signaling that they’d like to just stick with the CSM scale? Or is it maybe more likely, since it would make S&C look that much better in the eyes of prospective hires to trounce multiple rivals in the compensation department?

The Debevoise memo appears after the jump.

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