Partner Profits

Mel Gibson

* Mel Gibson has reached a plea agreement in a battery case involving his ex-girlfriend. #losing #BeaverBlood [Associated Press]

* Meanwhile, Lilo isn’t accepting her plea deal. No ma’am. Not for all the Texas booger sugar in the world. Well, maybe for all the Texas booger sugar. But that wasn’t really offered. [New York Post]

* A look at Jowls McRaisinhead’s Arlen Specter’s move to solo practice. [Legal Intelligencer via WSJ Law Blog]

* The Wisconsin Senate passed sweeping curbs on collective bargaining yesterday. The protesters are still howling, but I wonder how loud they’ll be when Pinkertons shove batons in their faces. That’s not actually happening. I just have a fairly violent and anachronistic imagination. [Reuters]

* House Republicans have gone meta in promising a defense of the Defense of Marriage Act. [Los Angeles Times]

* State Senator Carl Kruger, of Brooklyn, will turn himself in on corruption charges today. Big up to Crooklyn. [New York Times]

* Coach Sweater Vest’s hilarious understanding of attorney-client privilege is hilarious. [The Lantern]

* Profits per partner at Kirkland & Ellis topped $3 million in 2010, and the firm boosted its revenue even though it shed some lawyers. I Can Has Spring Bonus? [Am Law Daily]

Ray Carey

You don’t see this everyday. Raymond Carey, a 57-year-old white male partner at Foley & Lardner, is suing the firm, alleging that it paid him less than it would have paid a “female, non-Caucasian, younger partner.”

Sadly, it appears the only evidence Carey has for his claims is that he wasn’t paid as much as he feels he was promised. That’s disappointing. When women, gays, or minorities make discrimination claims, there are usually juicy tidbits about inappropriate jokes and statements made to the alleged victim. But I just read through a 63-page complaint and there wasn’t a single alleged “cracker” joke. Apparently nobody at Foley told Carey he needed to show “more bulge.”

But hey, if the brother’s not getting paid as much as other people in his office, maybe he has a point. And even if you don’t find the complaint particularly salacious, one of Carey’s attached exhibits is the Foley & Lardner partnership agreement….

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Ed. note: This is the latest installment of Size Matters, one of Above the Law’s new columns for small-firm lawyers.

As has become my tradition, Sunday night I watched the Academy Awards while drinking an Oscar-themed martini. While watching the three-and-a-half-hour award show, I was reminded of a few life lessons that I have learned about practicing law.

First, as I listened to the kids from P.S. 22 sing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” I remembered that my years at Biglaw have left me dead inside.

Second, as I saw the many beautiful (and not so beautiful) nude dresses, I was reminded of the importance of transparency in the management of a small law firm. Yes, perhaps this analogy is a stretch, but I just wanted to be able to write about the Oscars and my Black Swan-tini….

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I like it when the artifice drops and Biglaw is shown to be dominated by greed. I don’t necessarily use the word “greed” pejoratively. I like money, you like money, and if somebody offered you more money to do what you are doing already, you’d take it.

I just like it when people can admit that the only thing they care about is money. It just makes things more efficient. What do you want? More money! When do you want it? Now!

Associates get a lot of flack for being unabashedly greedy, but an excellent report in today’s Wall Street Journal illustrates that Biglaw partners are just as obsessed with money has anybody else.

And the only problem is that the partners losing out on the money grab are kind of pissed….

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Fact: Spring bonuses have been announced at Cravath, Sullivan & Cromwell, Simpson Thacher, and Cleary Gottlieb.

Fact: It’s February 7th.

Fact: Skadden, Davis Polk, Weil, and Debevoise should be ashamed of themselves.

Honestly, I don’t know what the top-tier firms that haven’t announced spring bonuses think they’re doing. Do they hope that no one is watching? Everybody is watching.

You want proof? Last week, at a “state of the firm” meeting, Cadwalader announced that it is considering spring bonuses. If Cadwalader goes with spring bonuses, it puts a whole host of other firms in play for the big payout…

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Layoffs dropped sharply in 2010.

This evening, many of us — and six Supreme Court justices, according to an announcement this morning from the Court — will listen to the State of the Union address. Don’t be shocked if President Obama tells us that the state of the union is “strong.” When was the last time a president appeared before us to announce that the union is in shambles? (Even Jimmy Carter never did that.)

The truth lies somewhere in between strength and shambles. And that’s true not just of the United States, but of the world of large law firms.

Let’s talk about two indicators: layoffs, and bonuses — including a reader poll, on whether firms will match Sullivan & Cromwell’s yummy spring bonuses….

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Friday brought good news for associates at Sullivan & Cromwell. The firm announced generous springtime bonuses, which will double bonus compensation for some of the more junior classes. If you missed the news, which broke late on Friday, check it out over here.

But Friday brought even better news about litigation powerhouse Quinn Emanuel. As reported by Am Law Daily, the firm’s profits per partner in 2010 were 16 percent higher than in 2009.

So what kind of numbers are we talking about? PPP at QE is a seven-figure number, of course — but what’s the first digit?

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Sometimes lawyers at Cadwalader are the victims of theft. And sometimes they’re the ones doing the stealing.

Here’s the promised follow-up to yesterday’s post about Cadwalader’s successful raid on the energy law practice of McDermott Will & Emery. It’s big news in Biglaw. As of now, nine partners are moving — Paul Pantano, Karen Dewis, Greg Lawrence, Greg Mocek, Tony Mansfield, Ken Irvin, Rob Stephens, Daryl Rice and Doron Ezickson — but if they’re followed by associates, a few dozen lawyers could be involved.

In an email sent out on Wednesday by MWE leaders Jeff Stone and Peter Sacripanti, reprinted in full after the jump, McDermott tried to minimize the losses. Stone and Sacripanti pointed out that “[t]his group of partners focused mainly on one aspect of our overall energy practice, which was commodities and derivatives trading for financial clients,” and that “the departing partners’ total collections in 2010 amounted to about three percent of overall firm revenue.”

Still, three percent of total MWE revenue is nothing to scoff at. In 2009, McDermott had total revenue of $829 million, according to the American Lawyer. Assuming that 2010 revenue is similar (the Am Law numbers aren’t out yet), three percent amounts to $24.87 million. Dividing that out over nine partners yields revenue per partner of about $2.8 million — not a bad book of business.

Let’s check out some reader views on this news….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “More on Cadwalader’s Capture of Energy Lawyers from McDermott”

The end of the year was a pretty interesting time for partners at K&L Gates. Our sources report that right before the close of the year, the partners received a blistering message from Peter Kalis, the managing partner of the firm. Just 24 hours later, K&L Gates partners received an email from Kalis that was full of appreciation for the firm’s great 2010.

The two emails aren’t exactly contradictory in substance. But when it comes to tone, let’s just remember that partners have bosses too…

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I bet partners could use a hug.

If you thought that obsessing about money and feeling underpaid and underappreciated when it comes to your compensation stops once you become a Biglaw partner, think again. Am Law Daily reports on a new study done by Major Lindsey & Africa. The study shows that 61% of partners think they should be paid more.

Oh, you partners are generally satisfied with your take home. It’s just that, like Mr. Burns, you’d give it all away to have just a little bit more.

To which I say, yay (or “Huzzah” if you prefer). Welcome, Biglaw partners. For too long you have talked in the shadows, wondering how your pay stacked up to that of your peers, hoping to somehow find a way to maximize your earning potential. We know your struggles: mortgages, private schools, alimony or divorce settlements (for the unluckiest among you) — it all adds up. You’re working just as hard as you’ve ever worked, dealing with the pressure that can only come from having final responsibility over a project or an entire client strategy. And there’s always the expectation to bring in business, keep business, and generate new business, even during a down economy.

You put in all that time and effort for a take-home pay that shames you when you talk to your friends in finance and business. It’s not right, is it? So welcome, welcome, this is a safe place. Your financial desires commingled with your sense of entitlement will find friends here…

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