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Salary Cuts.jpgFirst year associates at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman got a poke last night that didn’t make them “hee-hee.” The announcement was not made on the Acela. It came via a firm-wide email from executive partners Jeffrey Grill and Sheryl Stein.
All first years, except those in New York, are having their salaries cut. From the memo:

Based on our current assessment of the market for associate salaries and with our incoming first year associates joining the Firm shortly, the Firm has decided that, effective January 1, 2010, first year associates resident in our U.S. offices (other than New York) will be paid at an annual base salary rate of $145,000. First year associates resident in our New York office will be paid at an annual base salary rate of $160,000.

This isn’t the first salary cut at Pillsbury. Back in June 2009, the firm cut salaries based on utilization rates.
There is a caveat to this latest announcement. The firm recognizes that the market outside of New York is still “in flux” and it might raise salaries accordingly (and retroactively) if it sees fit in the future. Alternately, if first year associates outside of New York bake up 1950 hours, they’ll pull a $15k bonus out of the oven at the end of the year. See the full memo, after the jump.
What about the 2010 pay scale for the rest of Pillsbury’s associates?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide Salary Cut Watch: Less Dough for Pillsbury First Years”

gay marriage skadden.jpg* Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker gets digital-jiggy with it. The federal trial over Prop 8 and gay marriage will be broadcast on YouTube. [ABC News]
* Ponzi-scheming Florida lawyer Scott Rothstein is going down without a fight. [Reuters]
* You’re not worth $160,000. [Business Insider]
* Yay. Lots of Americans need lawyers. [Tax Prof Blog]
* Facebook executive Chris Kelly is willing to spend the equivalent of a nice chunk of the company’s worth to become California AG. [Mercury News]
* We gather from its appearance in the comments that many of you have read the NYT piece, Breaking Up in a Digital Fishbowl. While we’ve certainly been dumped before, it doesn’t happen “so often.” [True/Slant]

Crushing Debt Obligations.jpgI graduated law school in 2003, owing Harvard University just under $150,000. At the time, I had no idea what starting my professional career $150K in the hole would do to my life. I figured I’d work hard, make money, and pay my loans out of my general non-disposable income funds — kind of like my cable bill.

Seven years, two careers, numerous deferments and defaults, and one global economic meltdown later, I still owe a ton of money. Now, however, I pay it to various debt collection agencies and lawyers. When prospective landlords run a pro forma credit check on my application, they come back looking at me like I’ve been convicted of multiple war crimes. Every raise I’ll ever get will be eaten up by the collection agencies until sweet death allows me one everlasting and satisfying default. And, oh yeah, I don’t even want to practice law anymore — I quit my Biglaw job because, despite the debt, I really wanted to have a job that I enjoyed. So I essentially purchased a $150,000 disposable good. My time working in Biglaw was kind of like a very expensive vacation that I debt financed.

I mention all this because I am the cautionary tale prospective law students never want to think about. I mention all this because it is noble to crush false hope. I mention all this because there are way too many people poised to follow in my financially ruinous steps….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Debt: The Silent Killer”

guns.jpg* Law students or legal education customers? [Concurring Opinions]
* Philip K. Dick’s daughter is not a fan of the Google phone. [Wall Street Journal]
* This guy took Partner Emeritus seriously. [Underbelly]
* Perhaps unsure what to get Gilbert Arenas for his 28th birthday, NBA Commissioner David Stern opted to indefinitely suspend the Washington Wizards star for packing heat in the locker room. [ESPN]
* Elie opines on Agent Zero’s gun obsession and suggests that a small mind, rather than a small penis, is to blame for it. [True/Slant]
* Connecticut AG wants Christopher Dodd’s seat. [BLT]
* Prisoner escape on Planet Adorable. [Buzzfeed]
* During that dead week between Christmas and New Years, we did a post on our ten most popular stories of 2009. In case you missed it, here’s a link to the page view glory. [Above The Law]

2009 Associate bonus watch above the law.JPGLast month, associate bonuses were announced at the super-elite firm of Munger, Tolles & Olson — aka the West Coast home of The Elect, with about two dozen former SCOTUS clerks lying around. The firm is well-known for its exceedingly high hiring standards and intellectual (if somewhat nerdy) atmosphere.
One would expect a firm as picky as Munger to reward its recruits handsomely. But word on the street is that some MTO associates, unlike their counterparts at Irell & Manella, are not pleased with their 2009 bonuses.
Munger didn’t have lockstep in the past, but this year they decided to have it for first-year associates (from the class of 2008). Those associates received $5,000, below the market rate of $7,500. Second-year associates, i.e., class of 2007 graduates, received bonuses between $7,500 and $10,000, at or below market. (But note that Munger makes 3% contributions to some associates’ 401K plans, which most firms do not these days.)
The firm memo provides official ranges for bonuses. One tipster claims the ranges are somewhat misleading because most people received bonuses on the low end and very few receive bonuses on the high end, but we have not verified this.
The complete MTO memo, plus added explanation for associate discontent, after the jump.

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Steve Cohen playing cards.JPGLast month we mentioned the civil RICO lawsuit filed against billionaire financier Steve Cohen by his ex-wife, Patricia Cohen. The suit is just a few weeks old — Mr. Cohen has yet to file an answer — but there’s already a new development.
Patricia Cohen has replaced her original lawyer — prominent trial lawyer Paul Batista, author of a treatise on RICO — with Gaytri Kachroo, a former partner at McCarter & English in Boston. Kachroo has some experience with high-profile, Wall Street-related engagements; she represented Harry Markopolos, a Madoff whistleblower, before Congress and the SEC. But she is primarily a transactional lawyer, whose practice focuses on emerging markets in India and Southeast Asia.
It’s all a bit… strange. Check out the details, along with Batista’s somewhat snarky motion to withdraw as counsel, over at Dealbreaker.
Paul Batista Claims Patricia Cohen Left In The Middle Of The Night And Didn’t Even Have The Bedside Manner To Say Good-Bye [Dealbreaker]
Earlier: Ex-Wife Goes After Deep Pockets

Ed. note: Have a question for next week? Send it in to [email protected].

pls hndle copy 2.jpgDear ATL,

Deferred associates are starting soon at my V100 firm… which is *odd* because there’s not enough work to go around. At least not for junior level associates, because the mid levels and senior levels hoard work for themselves. So if my firm is going to downsize juniors, do you think they’re more apt to fire these incoming associates or other junior level associates with slightly more tenure?

How Will I Know if He Really Loves Me

Dear How Will I Know if He Really Loves Me,
Luckily this question came in over the holidays, so I had the chance to go home and consult my sister’s Ask Zandar game and get what you really need, which is a wizard’s opinion. I first asked, “Zandar, will this person’s firm fire incoming associates first?” Zandar did not reply. I then asked, “Zandar, is it unacceptable for my 17 year-old cousin to have Neytiri from Avatar as his screensaver?” And when Zandar once again failed to reply, I realized that he had no batteries.
As you may have noticed, things are looking up these days. Bonuses are hitting people’s TD Banks, there’s salary thaws, “true-up” raises* — and the whole global warming trend turned out to be just a weird ’90s phenomenon. On ATL, we’ve traded in Bloody Tuesdays or Outplacement Thursdays for lighter fare about holiday greeting cards and courthouse shootings. Unless executives go back to stealing from their companies — which they won’t be doing because we have rules in place now to deal with that sort of thing — the days of mass layoffs are over. This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius.
So, to those of you who have spent the last year afraid to jinx yourself by unwrapping your 2009 BNA Tax Code — RELAX. The Committee of Public Safety isn’t blocking off conference rooms anymore. But if they do, they’ll certainly fire you first, because if they wanted to fire the people they’re bringing in, they just wouldn’t have had them start. Also, they’re cheaper.
Your friend,
The cast of Hair lunges into the audience and awkwardly forces you to participate, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Pls Hndle Thx: The Dawning of the Age of Aquarius?”

Sherry Netherland hotel condominium.jpgIn between Christmas and New Year’s, while most of us were stuffing our faces, celebrated litigator David Boies was stuffing his own stocking — with a magnificent New York apartment. Last year was a good one for Boies Schiller associates, at least based on their bonuses. And it probably was a good one for their boss, at least based on his latest real estate purchase.

There’s no need for Boies to feel guilty, though, since it seems he got a bargain. From Bloomberg:

David Boies, the antitrust lawyer who took on Microsoft Corp. and represented Al Gore in the contested U.S. presidential election of 2000, bought a seven room apartment overlooking New York’s Central Park for $7.75 million after the price was reduced by more than 20 percent.

Boies, chairman and founder of New York-based law firm Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP, purchased a two-bedroom unit at the Sherry-Netherland hotel on Fifth Avenue and 59th Street, according to city property records. The original asking price was $9.95 million, according to listing service

More details, plus photos of the fabulous pad, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawyerly Lairs: Boies’s Bargain
The legendary litigator snaps up an $8 million apartment.

nancy andrade.jpgWould you swap corporate securities work for chipotle seasoning? Nancy Andrade did. The Catholic University ’93 grad quit her job at Katten Muchin in 2001, to start a family tamale-making business called Mexifeast. Their tamales are sold at Walmart, Whole Foods and Jewel.
So how did Andrade go from handling derivative claims to hawking corn-husked deliciousness? She tells the Chicago Tribune that her tamale-loving colleagues at Katten were part of the push in the frozen food business direction:

When I started at Katten (Muchin Rosenman) and people discovered I was Mexican-American, they’d ask me where to get good tamales.

Thank goodness for ethnic food stereotypes. Did Justice Sotomayor’s new colleagues ask her where to buy burritos in D.C.?
So how did Andrade respond to the tamale inquiries from her co-workers?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Career Alternatives for Attorneys: Tamale Maker”

world college rankings.JPGCareer Cast has compiled a list of the Top 200 Jobs for 2010. Here’s how the Career Cast came up with its (totally arbitrary) first to worst rankings:

How does Jobs Rated determine which professions rank better than others? Data on each job is broken down into five key categories: Physical Demands, Work Environment, Income, Stress and Hiring Outlook. Jobs receive a score in each individual category, and when these are added together, the career with the best overall score is ranked 1st, while the one with the worst overall score is ranked 200th.

The number one job to have in 2010? Actuary! Wow, I almost fell asleep while I was writing that word.
The top ten jobs are … wait a minute, what do you care? Let’s skip all the way down to where “attorney” comes it.
Attorney is actually well outside the top ten. Let’s take a short break while I rappel down the list to find the legal profession.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Is ‘Attorney’ Still a Good Job?”

Las Vegas federal courthouse Lloyd D George federal courthouse.jpgMonday’s shootout at the Lloyd George Courthouse in Las Vegas can be described as tragic, frightening, and now, surreal. Reports are out this morning that the gunman, Johnny Lee Wicks, previously served prison time for killing his brother. The ABA Journal collects the information:

Stories by the Associated Press, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, and the Memphis Commercial Appeal detail Wicks’ criminal past.
Wicks killed his brother after an argument escalated over whether his motorcycle could outrun his brother’s car, according to the Commercial Appeal account. Wicks had claimed he killed his brother in self defense, although no weapon was found near the body. He was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 55 years in prison. On appeal, the sentence was reduced to 12 to 15 years, and Wicks was paroled after serving six years.

I’m not a huge fan of taking legal advice from the Bible, but surely killing your brother because you’re jealous over his sheep car deserves a harsher penalty than six years.
But we’re not done with Johnny Lee Wicks’s past. More after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Las Vegas Courthouse Shooter Had Murderous Past”

Sharon Stone basic instinct interrogation scene beaver shot.jpg* Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT) — a lawyer, like a number of his Senate colleagues (University of Louisville ’72) — won’t seek reelection this year. [Washington Post]
* The D.C. Circuit rules in favor of the presidential war power to hold Guantanamo Bay detainees, with Judge Janice Rogers Brown swatting away a request for release by a former chef for the Taliban. [New York Times]
* Speaking of Gitmo and the D.C. Circuit, Neal Katyal — who won a celebrated victory before in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld — will be arguing against the detainees before the circuit court, later this week. [Politico]
* A successful appeal gives ex-Sonnenschein partner Douglas Rosenthal the opportunity to relitigate damages in a compensation dispute with his former firm. [National Law Journal via Am Law Daily]
* Judge Rakoff thinks he can dance — and apparently he’s right. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Sharon Stone will play a prosecutor on Law & Order! Expect some memorable interrogation scenes. [ABA Journal]

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