* Is in vitro fertilization a tax-deductible medical expense? For some people, yes; for Dr. William Magdalin, it’s just fun in a cup. [Suits & Sentences]
* Is the Wendy Savage phenomenon bad for professional women? [f/k/a]
* Funny exam questions remind us that professors would rather be doing almost anything other than grading finals. [PrawfsBlawg]
* The Millennial generation is learning a hard lesson about reality, and how much it bites. [Law and More]
* Blago taps former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris to fill Obama’s shoes. Will Harry Reid really refuse “this nice, experienced, elderly black gentleman a legally valid seat in the Senate”? [Wonkette]
Just before Christmas, Arnold & Porter sent around an intriguing memo. The firm refused to make any decisions regarding pay in New York at all in 2009:
Associate Bonuses for Associates in All Offices Except in New York
Those of you who met the previously announced thresholds and other criteria for 2008 bonuses will be advised today (by individual e-mails) that you will be receiving these bonuses. The amounts paid will be in keeping with the levels paid in 2007.
Associate Bonuses for New York Associates
We will be announcing our 2008 bonuses for our New York associates after the first of the year. Consistent with past practices, these bonuses will be paid in 2009.
A tipster begs to differ with A&P’s institutional memory of “past practices.”
Despite his wording regarding timing of payment, the bonuses were announced in early December last year.
Sidley Austin just emailed all of their associates to wish them a happy New Year. How nice. How thoughtful. How … oh wait a minute. The firm also took the opportunity to inform all associates that their pay raises would be delayed until sometime next year.
The firm-wide memo from Sidley is short and to the point:
At this time of the year, we historically have provided information about class-wide and individualized salary adjustments for next year. Given the current uncertainty in the economy and financial markets, and the impact on law firms, we are still in the process of evaluating associate salary levels for 2009. We expect to make a decision on this issue sometime during the first quarter of next year.
On behalf of all of our partners, we thank you for your professionalism and dedication.
Most of our sources are out enjoying the holiday season. But our remote reporters are generally displeased.
One sentence in the bonus memo has an ominous tone that’s making Mayer associates uneasy. The memo says that bonuses will be paid January 16, 2009 but “only to associates in good standing who are employed by the firm on the date the bonus is actually paid.” From a Mayer tipster:
People are upset about the language, (“All bonuses will be paid only to associates in good standing who are employed by the Firm on the date the bonus is actually paid.”) believing it to reinforce the idea that layoffs are happening come January 5th.
Are Mayer associates overreacting to the memo language?
Firm spokesperson Bob Harris says this is the “same language that has been used for several bonus seasons.” We looked back at last year’s memo though and didn’t see a similar sentence.
UPDATE: Associates are overreacting. Harris points us to a different 2007 memo that does employ the same language.
Harris was emphatic in saying that there are “no plans whatsoever for additional layoffs” at Mayer Brown.
Rumor mongers suggest otherwise. Predictions on the practice groups to be hit with layoffs, after the jump.
We will now announce what we view as the year’s ten biggest stories in law-firm land. We’ve divided them into two groups: the top five stories on the business side, and the top five stories on the gossip side. Collectively these stories reflect the combination of edification and entertainment that we seek to provide here at ATL. We’ll start with the #5 stories in each group and work our way up.
The year that’s about to end has been full of “business and the law” stories. Most of the news has been terrible. But it really hasn’t been all doom and gloom.
Our fifth-place story on the business end of the legal industry is objectively positive news. Read about it after the jump.
* SCOTUS may hear the case of a Texas woman who claims that an extreme religious group forced her to “exorcise her demons”, disturbing her so much that she later attempted suicide. [The Atlanta Journal-Constitution]
* On Wednesday, the federal court in Manhattan will start considering information that will infect the investor’s in Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. Furthermore, Judge Louis L. Stanton of the U.S. District Court will consider whether people who invested in “feeder funds” with other Wall Streeters who invested in Madoff’s fund will be covered under the Securities Investor Protection Corporation–a federal fund that protects investors in cases like these. [The New York Times]
* The federal government announced a settlement over a developers who build projects on wetlands in Michigan’s Midland and Bay counties–a case that has gone on for decades. [The Chicago Tribune]
*Former New York City police Commissioner Bernard Kerick pleaded not guilty in a federal court to charges of tax evasion and corruption. [CNN.com]
* Store vendors angered by department store’s mark-downs may make the stores cover more of the losses. If they succeed, they could get back $ 1.2 billion from Macy’s, Saks Inc., Dillard’s, Nordstrom, Kohl’s and JC Penney. [Bloomberg.com]
* “The 6th Circuit struck down a vehicle safety law in Michigan that banned drivers from hanging any view-obstructing baubles from their rearview mirrors. [Courthouse News Service]
Heller Ehrman’s bankruptcy has been a long time coming. The firm made the news official on Sunday:
Today the Dissolution Committee of Heller Ehrman LLP, in Dissolution (the “Firm”) authorized the Firm’s counsel to file a Petition for Reorganization under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code. We took this step only after very careful and extensive analysis.
But the firm’s Dissolution Committee also notes:
The Dissolution Committee’s decision to conduct the continued wind down of the Firm under the jurisdiction of the Bankruptcy Court was not prompted by the Firm running out of money. On the contrary, thanks to the dedication and tireless efforts of the Firm’s remaining employees who comprise the Liquidation Team, the cooperation of the Firm’s former shareholders, and the positive responses received from hundreds of the Firm’s former clients, collection of accounts receivable over the past three months has been strong. And going forward, we continue to expect collection of tens of millions of additional dollars.
After the jump, we post the full Heller memo and check in with Thacher Proffitt.
A couple of weeks ago, we told you that a small firm based in Nassau County (Long Island) was trying to add an associate off of Craigslist — for the bargain basement price of $36K – $42K.
The position hasn’t been filled yet, but there is apparently a lot of competition for the job. From the firm’s latest Craigslist ad:
I will say that overall I’ve been impressed with the creative cover letters and the excellent resumes. In any event, we haven’t contacted anyone yet, so don’t be alarmed by our silence. Enjoy the holidays. Relax with family and friends, remember what is important. Next year will be better. Now I do need to say, if we do not call you in, please understand that it is not a reflection on you, we’re a small firm and we only have one opening. I’ve received resumes from at least thirty five attorneys (and a few soon to be attorneys) that I would interview and hire in a heart beat, if I only had the time and the openings. Stay upbeat.
Relax? At the point where you are applying for $40K/year jobs over the holiday season, you are incapable of relaxing … neither is your landlord.
Of course, not all of the responses have been positive:
To the one anti – semite who thought somehow, that religion had anything to do with the salary we were offering – F*ck off – It is my Christmas wish that you remain unemployed forever, and that the closest you come to a legal job is selling Blumberg forms in a Staples.
Read the full ad after the jump. And remember, if you work in Nassau you can still live in much nicer and more economically priced Suffolk County.
After careful consideration, we have decided that associates in the US and Europe , and associates, senior consultants and consultants in Asia , will receive the same salary in 2009 as you received in 2008. Consistent with firm practice, of counsel salaries will be determined on an individual basis and generally will remain the same as 2008. We will ensure that our 2009 bonus program gives us additional flexibility to reward outstanding performance and remain competitive in the marketplace.
On the bright side, Orrick will be paying out the bonuses they promised earlier in the year:
We will pay full 2008 bonuses according to the terms of the program we announced earlier in this year.
That puts Orrick at Skadden levels. Notwithstanding the bonus news, a tipster puts the mood at Orrick like this:
Last May, we held an open thread about law school transfer students as second-class citizens, based on the University of Connecticut’s Maya Angelou-inspired “Phenomenal Transfer” poem. There was quite a lot of anti-transfer-student sentiment in the thread, though some former transfer students chimed in to say that they had experienced no animosity in their new homes.
For those put off by transfer students, there were three main themes in the thread:
Northwestern University Law School is actively–and unapologetically–recruiting top-performing law students from lower-ranked schools, a practice that some deans claim is becoming commonplace at elite institutions.
Each year, 150 or so of Northwestern’s 5,000 applicants turned down for first-year admission receive letters inviting them to apply again for “conditional acceptance” the following fall. [Ed. note: Northwestern later revised these numbers with the ABA Journal, saying they only extend 15-25 conditional acceptances each year.]
Deans of lower-tier schools resent the predatory practice. The Journal quotes Northwestern Dean David Van Zandt as saying the poaching allegation is “probably true,” but that, “Chrysler and General Motors don’t agree not to poach each other’s customers.”
Really, Dean Van Zandt? You’re looking to Chrysler and GM as your business role models?
More on transfers, and a look at the number of students bagged by top schools, after the jump.
I hope that a jolly Turkish Saint brought Dorsey & Whitney associates something spectacular for Christmas. Because a pay raise was certainly not one of their stocking stuffers.
A memo went out to Dorsey& Whitney associates on December 23rd explaining the bad news:
Management and staff have just completed the 2009 forecasting and budgeting process. In order to protect our people and resources, and to prepare for what all anticipate will be a tough 2009, the Management Committee reluctantly decided to freeze all associate and staff salaries (except associate productivity bonuses) effective immediately. Although equity partners do not receive a salary, their compensation is impacted by the economy as well. As soon as the economy stabilizes and the prospects for the legal industry brightens, we will end the firm-wide salary freeze.
Unlike Latham & Watkins, Dorsey & Whitney is promising to end the pay freeze as soon as the economy stabilizes. That could happen in 2009.
In a land that is right here and in a time that is right now, a technology has arisen so powerful that it can replace basic human document review. Is it time to bow down before our new robot overlords?
First, here’s a little story about me: my life in the legal world began as a paralegal. My first case was a GIANT patent infringement case that was already six years old and had involved as many as five companies, multiple US courts, the ITC and an international standards committee. I knew nothing about any of this.
On my first day, my supervisor (a paralegal with at least eight other cases driving her crazy) sat me down in front of a Concordance database with a 100,000+ patents and patent file histories. “Code these,” she said. I learned that “coding”, for the purposes of this exercise, meant manually typing the inventor’s name, the title of the patent, the assignee, the file date, and other objective data for each document. I worked on that project – and only that project – for at least the first six months of my job. After a week or so, time began to blur.
What I know, in retrospect and with absolutely certainty, is that as time began to blur, so did my judgment. So did my attention to detail. If you could tell me that I did not make at least one mistake a day – one inconsistent spelling, one reversed day and month, one incorrectly spaced title – I frankly would need to see your evidence. I would not believe it. The human mind is trainable but it is not a machine.
Watch to find out what some of our subscribers received in their May box!
The proper hair styling product might just be the only thing standing between you and your dream job. And the best way to find what works for you is to try the best stuff on the market. Join Birchbox Man for $20 a month and you’ll get customized shipments of the best grooming and lifestyle gear on the market every month—everything from haircare and shaving supplies to style accessories and tech gadgets.
As the leading discovery commerce platform, Birchbox is redefining the retail process by offering consumers a unique and personalized way to discover, learn about, and shop the best grooming and lifestyle products out there. It’s a full 360-degree process: try, learn, buy. Once you sign up and fill out your profile, head over to Birchbox Man’s online magazine to find article and video tutorials on how to get the most out your monthly box products. Pick up full-size versions of anything you like in the Birchbox Shop and earn points for every purchase.
We currently have a number of active openings for associate roles at US and UK firms in HK / China, Singapore and two new in-house openings. As always, please feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org in order to get details of current openings in Asia, as well as to discuss the Asia markets in general and what we expect for openings later this year. Our Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney will be in Beijing the week of March 25 and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong the week of April 1, if you would like to meet them in person.
The US associate openings we have in law firms are in the usual areas of M&A, cap markets, FCPA / white collar litigation, finance, and project finance. The most urgent of our top tier (top 15 US or magic circle) law firm openings in Asia (among many other firm openings that we have in Asia) are as follows:
• 2nd to 5th year mandarin fluent M&A associates needed in Beijing and Hong Kong at several firms;
• Korean fluent 2nd to 4th year cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 5th year Japanese fluent M&A associates needed in Tokyo;
• 4th to 6th year mandarin fluent cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 4th year M&A / cap markets mix associate needed in Singapore.
The traditional job application and interview process can be impersonal, and applicants often struggle to present themselves as more than just the sum of their GPAs, alma maters, and previous work history. ATL has partnered with ViewYou to help job seekers overcome this challenge. ViewYou NOW Profiles offer a unique way for job seekers to make a personal, memorable connection with prospective employers: introduction videos. These videos allow job candidates to display their personalities, interpersonal skills, and professional interests, creating an eDossier to brand themselves to potential employers all over the world. Check it out today!