Well, the bonus scale has been set. Cravath led — by copying their bonus payments from last year — and now everybody is following. I’m on record saying that these bonuses are underwhelming and disappointing.
Gone are the days where the first-year bonus represented a significant chunk of your law school debt. Sure, you can pay down some interest with your bonuses, or you can prudently save it, or maybe even invest it. But you can also blow it. I mean, it’s a “bonus,” right? In this depressed market, your bonuses look less like deferred compensation and more like “found money.” Instead of making a fiscally sound decision, using your bonuses for profligate, discretionary spending might make you feel better. (Disclosure: Elie Mystal is not a registered financial adviser and is too… stupid to follow a budget.)
Bonuses range from $10,000 for first-year associates to $60,000 for senior people. Professor Paul Caron of Tax Prof Blog tells me that associates can expect to take home about 60% percent of that, depending on where they live and how many dependents they have.
What can a young lawyer buy with that? In addition to what’s in the ATL holiday gift guide, here are 10 things…
* Oh baby (or the lack thereof): the Supreme Court has decided to take on two of the cases asserting religious challenges to the Affordable Care Act’s contraception coverage mandate. [Blog of Legal Times]
* “[H]e has a Rolodex like a Ferris wheel.” Delaware’s Supreme Court Chief Justice is retiring from the bench to join Potter Anderson & Corroon, where that Rolodex will come in handy. [Wall Street Journal]
* Italian prosecutors think Amanda Knox should be convicted of murder (again) and given a 30-year sentence in a retrial she’s not even there for. This kind of sounds like it’d be a double-secret conviction. [CNN]
* With fall finals right around the corner, law students can take comfort in the fact that next week they’ll be soothed by therapy dogs — ones that’ll need therapy after dealing with law students. [WSJ Law Blog]
* If you’re considering applying to law school against all odds, you should determine when the right time to apply would be. Don’t listen to your parents, listen to your gut. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News]
* If you haven’t heard, the Beastie Boys are having a copyright fight with toymaker GoldieBlox over a parody of the song “Girls” that’s been used in a commercial. Fair use? Decide after the jump. [NBC News]
* Justice Sonia Sotomayor thinks that the lack of diversity on the federal and state judiciaries poses a “huge danger,” one that might even be greater than her complete inability to dance. [Blog of Legal Times]
* Because “love [shouldn't be] relegated to a second-class status for any citizen in our country,” Illinois is now the 16th state in the U.S. to have legalized same-sex marriage. Congratulations and welcome! [CNN]
* “His discrimination claim was not about discrimination.” After only 2.5 hours deliberating, the jury reached a verdict in John Ray III v. Ropes & Gray, and the Biglaw firm came out on top. [National Law Journal]
* One thing’s for sure: big city bankruptcies ain’t cheap. Detroit has paid about $11 million to Jones Day, emergency manager Kevyn Orr’s former firm, since this whole process kicked off. [Detroit Free Press]
* Baylor Law is being overrun by a colony of feral cats. Someone please tell the administration these kitties can’t be used as therapy animals before finals — students will have their faces clawed off. [Baylor Lariat]
* Say what you will about Justice Scalia, but the man is hilarious — more funny than his four liberal colleagues combined, according to a statistical analysis of oral argument recordings. [New York Times]
Finals time is upon us once again, and that means law students are about to reach their breaking points. Perhaps that outline you got in exchange for hooking up with a 3L wasn’t very helpful, or maybe you missed one too many classes to know what the hell’s going to be on the test. Whichever way you slice it, you think you’re going to be screwed.
Luckily, your law school’s administration is well aware of the situation, and to try to alleviate some of the stress, law schools are offering students relief in the form of food, massages, and puppies. These are just some of the perks of an education that costs up to six figures to complete.
Come on, wouldn’t you rather snuggle with a cute and cuddly animal instead of grabbing a handful of your poop and smearing it all over the walls? Let’s see what law schools are doing to prevent their students from losing their sh*t — literally….
In 2010, police in Des Moines, Washington (fun fact: pronounced “də·moinz,” with a “z” sound at the end, unlike the Iowa version), twice Tasered a 4-year-old Newfoundland dog named Rosie, chased it out of its yard, and then shot it four times — with an ASSAULT RIFLE. This was an act of unchecked police brutality that made the Rodney King cops say, “Hey, hold on now.”
And the city recognized this and offered the dog’s owners $51,000.
But a federal judge jumped in and basically doubled the payout, accused the city’s attorneys of having “terrible writing,” and that’s not even the worst charge he levels….
* I hope you’ve all got your taxes finished. Here’s a fun fact: most tax cheats live in the South and the West. The two areas of the country filled with people who think taxes are evil cheat more? Go figure. [NBC News]
* A detailed look at how the Federalist Society became so powerful in American law schools. Unfortunately, it neglects the “they tend to order better pizzas for their events” gambit. [Chronicle of Higher Education]
* Remember the new, depressing, public domain Happy Birthday song? The sponsor of that contest, WFMU, is at it again with a new contest to create modern, entertaining covers of public domain ditties. Despite my ragging on the birthday song, this is a pretty cool idea. [Free Music Archive]
* Are you a young lawyer complaining about your lot in life? You’re at this site, so statistically you are. Well, quit your bitchin’! [Associate's Mind]
* The Texas Supreme Court does not value emotional attachments to dogs. This is surprising because I can think of at least 10 country songs on this very point. [Law and More]
* Mocking law school couples with a GIF from Veep? Get out of my head, UChiLawGo! [UChiLawGo]
The natural enemy of the family dog is the local cop. Some of the stories we hear about cops shooting dogs, man, it’s like they don’t even try to deal with the animal reasonably. They shoot first and put the leash on later. I get that some people are just irrationally afraid of dogs, but cops are armed and in stressful situations. And since “dog murder” isn’t really a thing, there’s no incentive for cops to hold their fire.
We’ve reported in the past about how jury awards are going up when cops are found to recklessly kill family pets. But money cannot replace the companionship of a best friend.
Now, one state is trying to take more decisive action by requiring cops to learn how to deal with “short, hairy children”….
* For any Catholics hitting up PaddyPower to lay down money on the conclave, you’ve probably had some restless nights wondering if Pope Gregory XIV’s edict per the Ius Decretalium still applies. It doesn’t. That’s a load off. [Canon Law Blog]
* A number of strip clubs are challenging San Antonio’s new regulations. One key to their argument: “the presentation of expressive dance performances is a beneficial social activity which creates an improved self image for the dancer….” Yeah, good luck with that argument. [KEGL]
* If you’re looking for emotional distress damages, maybe lay off the “I’m just embarrassed to be seen with him now” arguments. [Lowering the Bar]
* To challenge the law letting the government tap your communications in secret, you need to have full knowledge that the secret recording is happening. Thanks Joseph Heller. [Volokh Conspiracy]
* The new Copyright Alert System goes into effect, allowing copyright holders to make your service provider slow your Internet to a crawl if you’re identified as a repeat violator. I don’t see what the big deal is, but then again, I’m still using a Prodigy account. [Gawker]
* MC Hammer is softening, but still a tad miffed after police booked him for an expired registration after he told them, “U Can’t Touch This.” [Los Angeles Times]
* Are you kidding? University of North Carolina’s “Honor Court” is threatening to expel a student for “intimidating” her attacker by discussing that she was raped — without identifying her attacker. This is why North Carolina can’t have nice things. [Feministing]
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The holiday season is upon us, and yet again, you have no idea what to get for the fickle lawyer in your life. We’re here to help. Even if your bonus check hasn’t arrived yet, any one of the gifts we’ve highlighted here could be a worthy substitute until your employer decides to make it rain.
We’ve got an eclectic selection for you to choose from, so settle in by that stack of documents yet to be reviewed and dig in…
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