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* Still pissed about your bonus? Don’t blame partners. Sure they’re making more money this year while forcing you to work harder for the same pay, but… umm… look, just don’t blame them for anything, ever. [WSJ Law Blog]

* If you commuted into work today, you don’t know how to accept a gift. [Village Voice]

* Reading your wife’s email is a crime now? Fine, so long as it is now also a crime for your wife to rifle through your pockets or even look at your BlackBerry. [Fox]

* I’d vote for Sarah Silverman for a number of positions. [What About Clients?]

* Californians: make sure to get your holiday raves in now, because they might be illegal in 2011. [Johnny California]

Dealing with a frozen job market.

As I alluded to last week, today I was supposed to be getting some action down in sunny Florida. Alas, thanks to the massive blizzard that hit the East Coast last night, I’m stuck in my Manhattan apartment — after three consecutive flights got canceled on me.

I’m grumpy, but understanding (and enjoying a Glee marathon — finishing up season one). The snowstorm was epic, after all. It’s over now, but the effects linger.

Just check out the view from my window….

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Ed. note: This is the latest installment of Inside Straight, Above the Law’s new column for in-house counsel, written by Mark Herrmann.

This just in: Corporations have matched the Cravath bonus scale!

Correction: The preceding sentence is not just false, but unintelligible.

Several folks have told me that a good way to juice readership of this column would be to publish a salacious post about bonuses paid to in-house corporate counsel, so readers could complain about how one corporation is stingy and another generous, or how corporations pay bigger or smaller bonuses than law firms. But I can’t write that post.

Why not?

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Check it out below — and guess where it’s from….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “A Politically Correct Holiday Cake”

Justice Sotomayor is loud and proud when dissenting from denials of certiorari.

* Instead of writing a blurb about this story featuring new lawyers down in Florida embroiled in the mortgage mess, allow me to hand it over to one of the article’s online commenters: “Imagine that crooked lawyers !!! Who ever said kill all the lawyers ? Great quote . We all do realize the government is made up of these kind of people that look honest enough but looks are only skin deep . Just imagine again having a license to steal ,conive mislead, downright lie to gain there way . Yet they are behind almost everything that is , WOW . As far as I’m concerned there all thieves till proven innocent , goes for our government as well . Continued” Well said. [Palm Beach Post]

* This guy quit a job in marketing to go to law school all because he doesn’t care about the size of his wiener. [ABC News via Gawker]

* I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again (because I’m lazy): The practice of checking the credit history of job applicants discriminates against blacks, Latinos, and me. [Los Angeles Times]

* The Wise Latina isn’t exactly whispering words of wisdom. [USA Today]

* A lawsuit claims the United States Marshals Service undervalued millions in seized property, thus denying victims their rightful compensation. You know who wouldn’t have undervalued this crap? Yep, Pawn Stars. [New York Times]

* In family law news, Hugh Hefner proposed to some Playmate lady named Crystal Harris. The pacemaker wants what the pacemaker wants. Get it? You get it. [Reuters]

* Leading law librarian Morris Cohen, R.I.P. [New York Times]

The Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center.

Or, if you’ll forgive the expression, a merry Christmas (to those of you who celebrate it). The entire team here at Above the Law sends you the warmest wishes of the season (subject to Manatt’s lawyerly disclaimers).

If you need some extra inspiration to get into the holiday spirit, check out the lovely Christmas poem that the lovely Kashmir Hill composed last year. Or view some clever law firm holiday cards. Or read about the holiday plans of various people within the legal profession — including NYU law professor Arthur Miller, prominent trial lawyer Mark Lanier, Elliott Portnoy of SNR Denton, Robert Morse of U.S. News, Dean William Treanor of Georgetown Law, and yours truly (karaoke, anyone?) — in this fun article, by Leigh Jones of the National Law Journal.

If you need some last-minute gift ideas, check out our list of the 12 Books of Christmas — some bookstores are still open (the Barnes & Noble at Union Square closes at 6 p.m. today; I just called). Or if you’re too lazy to leave your home or office, just go to Amazon and order a slew of print-at-home gift cards (one of my strategies this year).

Although Christmas Day isn’t until tomorrow, it’s generally being observed today. So here at ATL we’re following the lead of the federal government — thanks, 5 U.S.C. § 6103! — and taking off until Monday, December 27 (subject to the caveat that if some truly huge news breaks — e.g., God forbid, a Supreme Court justice fatally overdoses on egg nog — we will be on it).

So we’ll see you next week — when we will be around and publishing posts, although at a somewhat reduced level. Until then, be merry!

No humbugs here [National Law Journal]

Earlier: The Twelve Books of Christmas (2010)
Some Law Firm Holiday Cards
Quote of the Day: Baby Jesus Forgives You, Nina
Happy Holidays from Above the Law – 2009

Judge Valerie Vega really likes her vacations.

* Pat Robertson might be Yale Law School’s most disgraceful graduate, but at least he now has somewhat reasonable views about marijuana. [Raw Story]

* Choire Sicha was not a fan of Elie’s take on a possible Clementi v. Rutgers lawsuit. [The Awl]

* For my fellow hotel groupies: “Hilton Settles with Starwood Over Dumb Denizen Idea.” [Hotel Chatter]

* Being a judge is pretty awesome. It means you can force jurors to start deliberating at 3 a.m. and work through the night — Twelve Sleepy Men? — so your vacation plans won’t be disturbed. [8NewsNOW.com]

* Speaking of judges, congratulations to that Wise Latina, Judge Mary Murguia, who was just confirmed to the Ninth Circuit. [How Appealing]

* And speaking of nominees, we continue to accept suggestions for 2010′s Lawyer of the Year. [Above the Law]

* And speaking of honors, we’d be honored by your vote in the ABA Journal’s Blawg 100 contest. Thanks for your consideration! [ABA Journal]

In today’s New York Times, there’s an interesting profile of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who replaced Senatrix Hillary Clinton in the U.S. Senate. To be honest, despite my weakness for high-powered women with gold-plated credentials — Gillibrand’s résumé features Dartmouth, UCLA Law, a Second Circuit clerkship, Davis Polk, and Boies Schiller (where she was a partner) — I’m not a huge Gillibrand fan.

If you’ve ever heard Gillibrand speak, you can understand why her congressional peers nicknamed her Tracy Flick. She sounds like a super-perky high school president, not a United States Senator. She has no gravitas. She occupies the Senate seat once held by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, but Kirsten Gillibrand is not fit to kneel down and remove Hillary’s kitten heels.

Anyway, enough ranting. The NYT profile of Gillibrand, despite its occasionally fawning tone, is worth reading, due to some fun tidbits about Gilliband’s stint as an associate at Davis Polk….

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and wind up unemployed and some six figures in debt, despite graduating from a highly ranked school, can you sue… U.S. News and World Report?

It sounds ridiculous, right? And yet….

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1974: It was a very good year?

1974 was a good year. The IRA bombed the Tower of London, President Nixon was forced to resign in scandal, gasoline shortages led to long lines at the pump, a smallpox epidemic ripped through India, and famine savaged the continent of Africa. So yeah… great year, history!

But in the midst of all this human suffering, there were lulz to be had. All it took was a litigious Cleveland Browns fan and an attorney with balls big enough to set the Cuyahoga on fire (awesome metaphor!).

After the jump, a letter from the fan, Dale Cox, followed by the rejoinder from ATL’s Lawyer of the Year for 1974, one James N. Bailey…

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Say Cheese!

This year Sidley Austin gave out very good, but not ridiculously good, associate bonuses. Alas, Brian Schroeder was not there to enjoy them.

As you may recall, Schroeder is the 27-year-old Harvard Law School graduate who set fire to a memorial housing the remains of unidentified 9/11 victims, on Halloween 2009. Schroeder then did the right thing and turned himself in to the authorities. Shortly thereafter, Sidley — where Schroeder was headed, after a deferral to do public interest work — rescinded his job offer.

Yesterday afternoon, Schroeder pleaded guilty to criminal charges in connection with the fire he set (more specifically, charges of burglary, criminal mischief and cemetery desecration). He accepted full responsibility for his actions and apologized for them.

What led the handsome Harvard grad — described by ATL sources as “a good guy” and “really smart,” albeit “a little strange” — to set the blaze? One word: alcohol. Schroeder testified that he couldn’t even remember setting the fire, but admitted to a hard-partying Halloween: “I drank many alcoholic beverages.”

So what kind of sentence is Brian Schroeder getting? One that isn’t pleasing prosecutors….

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While some firms ran away from their merit-based compensation plans almost as soon as the economy began to turn around, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe stuck with it. Depending on your performance reviews, you might make less at Orrick than your peers at competitive firms, but you also might make a whole lot more. Click here for our prior coverage of Orrick’s compensation system.

Merit-based compensation makes bonus time particularly complicated. The firm uses the bonus to cover up any gaps between your base salary under its multi-tiered associate structure versus base salary at lockstep firms, and it uses its bonuses to pay out, well, associate bonuses. AND it uses the bonuses to pay out that “extra” compensation top performers at the firm deserve.

If Orrick had a culture of secrecy like some of the Biglaw firms we cover (ahem, Jones Day, ahem), then all that would happen would be a general feeling among every associate that somehow they were getting screwed. But Orrick has fought against distrust and misinformation by being amazingly transparent when it comes to its bonus structure. Last February, Orrick put together a wonderful chart that fully explained to its own associates (and potential new recruits and lateral hires) how the firm determined its 2009 bonus structure. We’ve been told that the firm will put one together again for the 2010 bonus cycle. (In February. Which is unfortunately months away.)

So while we wait for the full story, right now we only know what the Orrick associates know. And that is that their bonus will be using the Cravath scale as a benchmark in its calculation of market compensation…

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