If you’re a gay employee and have a domestic partner who receives health benefits through your employer, you have to pay more in federal income tax — about $1,000 a year, on average. This is because federal law, thanks to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), doesn’t recognize same-sex marriages. As a result, the feds treat employer-provided health benefits for domestic partners as a form of taxable income (if the partner is not considered a dependent).
(Note, however, that this could change. A federal judge in Boston recently struck down part of DOMA. Stay tuned to find out what happens on appeal.)
Earlier this month, we wrote about a perk that Google extends to its gay employees who find themselves in this situation. As reported by the New York Times, Google “essentially [covers] those costs, putting same-sex couples on an even footing with heterosexual employees whose spouses and families receive health benefits.” Google makes an extra payment to gay employees to make up for the increased tax burden — a perk that we dubbed “Google’s gay gross-up.”
We asked you, our readers, if any legal employers also offer this benefit. As it turns out, several do.
Find out which employers provide this perk — and vote in a poll on its fairness, which was hotly debated in the comments to our prior post — after the jump.
[Last] Thursday, Google [began] covering a cost that gay and lesbian employees must pay when their partners receive domestic partner health benefits, largely to compensate them for an extra tax that heterosexual married couples do not pay. The increase will be retroactive to the beginning of the year.
“It’s a fairly cutting edge thing to do,” said Todd A. Solomon, a partner in the employee benefits department of McDermott Will & Emery, a law firm in Chicago, and author of “Domestic Partner Benefits: An Employer’s Guide.”
Why do gay and lesbian employees pay more in taxes to begin with?
Welcome to the next in our series on the results of the 2010 ATL/Career Center Associate Satisfaction survey. We’ve used the survey results to revamp the Career Center, powered by Lateral Link, with completely updated profiles and each week, we are highlighting insider information that Members shared about their firms in the eight key areas of associate satisfaction covered by the Career Center. Today, what’s in it for you – Benefits.
This West Coast firm, specializing in representing high tech and life sciences clients, offers its associates the opportunity to participate in an investment partnership fund that invests in select clients.
This Midwestern firm, known for its work for Major League Baseball, lacks an on-site cafeteria or gym but makes up for it with "on-site massage and yoga classes."
This firm, known for its strong IP and technology practices, keeps its associates satisfied (calorie-wise) with bi-weekly attorney lunches, monthly "wine-and-cheese" hours, free soda, and "free pizza and beer every other Friday" in select offices.
Associates at this New York-based firm, well-known for its bankruptcy and restructuring, litigation and private equity practices, receive a $750 annual subsidy to cover gym membership fees.
More fun perks — perhaps your firm should adopt them? — after the jump.
In a move that can best be described as cheap, Latham & Watkins joins a growing list of firms that will not allow associates to accrue vacation time. Why would a firm deny its associates the opportunity to get paid out for unused vacation days when they leave the firm (voluntarily or involuntarily)? Because it saves them money, of course.
I suppose Latham could have put it this way: “We’ll no longer honor accrued vacation time because we don’t want to be on the hook for extra paychecks after we s***can you.” But where’s the fun in that? Instead Latham tried to sell associates on the idea that its change in vacation policy would allow associates to take unlimited vacation days.
Latham associates weren’t fooled by the memo. Check it out and see if you would have fallen under the spell of spin …
Most Biglaw New York lawyers would die of malnutrition without SeamlessWeb. Malnutrition, people! Because nobody has time to run down 50 floors to grab a bite to eat after hours.
Given the recession, charging 6:30 steak dinners to clients is no longer cool. But Schulte Roth & Zabel could be taking its anti-Seamless policy a bit too far. Here’s the email Schulte attorneys received last night:
The Firm cafeteria goes to great lengths to provide menu choices that reflect your preferences, and we are constantly looking for new ways to improve those offerings and keep the cafeteria operating as efficiently as possible. Attorneys and legal assistants working in the office on a client-related matter past 7:30 p.m. are encouraged to patronize Café 23, which is open for dinner Monday through Thursday evenings from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. Beginning April 5th, 2010, you will not be able to place orders through SeamlessWeb until 8:30 p.m. on weekday evenings.
We recognize that this change will cause some of you to rethink your dining options and, to that end, we ask you to let us know what types of food you would like the cafeteria to provide at dinnertime and then give Café 23 a try. Please email your comments and suggestions to [Redacted], Director of Food Services. Thank you.
Screwing around with SeamlessWeb is one sure way to piss off everybody that works for you. And boy are Schulte associates pissed …
We previously reported on Ropes & Gray hoarding Tamiflu for its employees. Reaction was mixed. Some people applauded Ropes looking out for the health of their employees and their families; others feared that Ropes was unwittingly contributing to a drug-resistant strain of the H1N1 virus.
But there are many ways to prevent an outbreak of piggy pestilence at a law firm near you. One of the most, dare I say rational, measures is to make sure that people who are sick aren’t coming into work.
That’s what they are doing at Akerman Senterfitt. The Washington Post reports (gavel bang: ABA Journal) that the firm is allowing people with the sickness to take time off of work, without counting it against their allotted leave time:
When Great Falls resident Carolyn Cuppernull’s 10-year-old daughter came down with swine flu, she didn’t have to take time off work to stay home with her.
Cuppernull is senior marketing manager of the Washington office of the law firm Akerman Senterfitt. Under the group’s former policy, she would have had to use paid leave to stay home if she or a relative got sick. But the firm recently updated its rules to allow employees to stay home with full pay — without using leave time — for H1N1-related absences.
Now that’s a way to make sure your office doesn’t suffer a swine flu outbreak without potentially contributing to the mutation of a global super virus.
Of course, there is a downside.
The competition between NYU Law and Columbia Law is always fierce — even when it is a race to the penny-pinching bottom. Two weeks ago, we told you that Columbia is now charging students for plastic forks (though chopsticks remain free).
Not to be outdone, a disgruntled NYU Law tipster reports:
So I’m in my last year at NYU Law and just had a fairly shocking experience…. I went to the lounge to get a cup for water from the water fountain. I grabbed a cup and walked away, and the cashier yelled at me. I thought she thought I was stealing a cup of coffee, so I told her I just wanted water. She said “that’s 25 cents.” I said “no, I just want water.” She said “I know,that’ll be 25 cents. We have to pay for those cups.” The worst part? It was a cup from Starbucks with the “we proudly serve Starbucks coffee” logo on the side.
Indignation from our tipster, plus a clarification about Columbia cutlery, after the jump.
Tuition at Columbia Law School this year is $48,004 (which doesn’t include $1,638 for health insurance and a $95 “transcript fee”). The estimated living cost for an academic year is $21,263. Putting it all together, students are looking at more than $70,000 for a year of legal education, during the worst recession in the legal industry most people can remember.
You’d think all of that would at least buy you a plastic fork at lunchtime. But you’d be wrong. Tipsters report that Columbia is now charging $.15 for plasticware in the law school cafeteria.
I’ve been doing this job for over a year now, and in that time some pretty petty cutbacks have scrawled across my inbox. But this might be the most outrageous “reverse perk” of all.
Let’s take a stroll through some other recession cutbacks.
We are fighting two wars, the economy is in the toilet, and the assassinations of Biggie and Tupac remain unsolved, but our elected leaders have spent a lot of time concerning themselves with soda (a.k.a: pop). Literally, the President of the United States is concerned about this.
Here in New York, wealthy overlord mayor Michael Bloomberg has an entire ad campaign running against soda. It’s probably just a precursor to the soda tax that is often talked about.
As a meat-eating smoker who detests physical activity and enjoys it when cows are fed beer, I’m immune to the so-called “doctors” and their calls for basic health. To me, taxing soft drinks is a violation of the social compact.
But in Biglaw, the war against soda is on. Foley & Lardner has already taken up arms against soft drinks. And it looks like Quinn Emanuel will be next.
Details after the jump.
Like most days, I started my morning with a Red Bull and the best morning man in the business, Pat Kiernan. Everything was proceeding normally, until I received this tip in the ATL inbox:
Women lawyers at City firm Clifford Chance have been given a £90 lingerie allowance.
Now, as you can well imagine, I don’t normally “spring” into anything — much less action. But within nanoseconds of receiving this information, I fired off a flurry of emails.
It turns out that the story comes from the Guardian – U.K. Here are some additional details about this (lacy?) fringe benefit:
Women lawyers at top City firm Clifford Chance are bucking the trend for reduced expenses now that their £90 lingerie-and-blouse allowance, if they work later than 11pm, has been reinstated. Inevitably dubbed the “90 nicker knicker allowance”, this may or may not be the most reliable indicator yet that the credit crunch is over. (Business is apparently so hectic that the firm has also installed sleeping pods.)
If you “work” later than 11 o’clock, you get to buy new panties? Why didn’t I think of that? More importantly, why didn’t Ben Franklin think of that and put it in the Constitution?
After consulting colleagues in London, a spokesperson for Clifford Chance in New York got back to me about bringing this commitment to sensual excellence to America. Sadly, it turns out that what sounds like one of the greatest Biglaw perks ever is in fact just a pedestrian acknowledgment of basic hygiene.
A college graduate without student loan debt is akin to reading a kind quote about Kim Kardashian in a tabloid—it’s rare.
In the past eight years, student loan debt has nearly tripled to a whopping $1.1 trillion, and in the past 10 years, the percentage of 25-year-olds with such debt has risen from 25% to 43%
It’s gotten so bad, in fact, that New York Fed economists warned last month that the burden of student debt could stilt consumer spending by twentysomethings, as well as further hamper the recovery of the housing market and economy.
To get a better idea of what massive student loan debt (we’re talking over $100,000 massive) looks like, we talked to an attorney who graduated with a large student loan debt. We also consulted LearnVest Planning Services CFP® Katie Brewer to see just how their repayment plans stack up.
S. Fischer, 36, Attorney Graduated: 2001
How Much I Borrowed: $100,000
What I Still Owe: $45,000
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Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
Deal flow has clearly picked recently up for most US associates, counsels and partners in Hong Kong/China and Singapore. We are on the phone with a lot of these folks on a daily basis, many of whom we have known for years. Further, the head of our Asia team, Evan Jowers, and Kinney’s founder and president, Robert Kinney, frequently meet in person with leading US partners in Asia to assess their needs and keep on top of the inside scoop at as many firms as possible. The need for legal recruiting help in Asia from experienced recruiters appears to be live and well. In March, Evan and Robert were in Beijing at such meetings, in April, Evan was in Hong Kong, and for half of June Evan will be in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Thus its pretty easy for us to tell when there has been an across-the-market pick up in capital markets and corporate work.
On an average day in Asia when Evan and Robert visit firms, they typically have 5 to 9 meetings a day, mostly with US partners in the market. The reason they have these meetings is not simply because Kinney makes a lot of US attorney placements in Asia and that a particular firm may have openings; instead these are just visits with friends. After years of working together as business partners, the folks at Kinney are actually these peoples’ friends. The firms Kinney work closely with in Asia (which is just about every law firm – call us if you want to know the one firm in the world we will never place anyone with again, ever, and why) look forward to the visits, or at least act like they do. After seven years in the market, many of the client partners are former associate candidates. Also, these US partners see Kinney as a very good source of market information as well, because they know how deep their contacts are in the market and how frequently they are speaking to counterparts at peer firms.
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