Today we’ll take a look at bonuses over at Baker Botts. Is it true that everything is bigger in Texas?
- Associate Bonus Watch 2011, Associate Salaries, Biglaw, Bonuses, Killing Lockstep, Money, Partner Issues
* The fact that this guy got so drunk off of beer pong means he’s probably the best pong competitor who has ever lived. [New York Post]
* This is the best document review job ever. I’m not joking. Does $85/hour sound like a joke? You might need to learn Japanese, though. [Constitutional Daily]
* Lat was on Minnesota Public Radio today giving a measured defense of unpaid internships. Kids at my high school were unpaid interns all the time. It was no big deal. (By the way, ATL is seeking a paid intern.) [Minnesota Public Radio]
* Earlier today, the internet temporarily exploded when the Ninth Circuit issued its opinion declaring Prop 8 unconstitutional. Here are comments from David Boies and Ted Olson, the lawyer heavyweights who argued the case. [Metro Weekly]
The supposed catalyst for the collapse: antitrust star Sean Boland, who had been leading the talks on the Howrey side, pulling out of the deal. It has been rumored that he might take his team not to Winston but to Baker Botts (which has already absorbed other Howrey talent).
What we do know for certain is that the partner exodus from Howrey continues. Here is the latest confirmed news.
UPDATE: Various updates have been (and are still being) appended — after the jump….
This week has been fairly quiet in terms of news about the troubled Howrey law firm. A post over at the Howrey Doody Time blog — with a brilliant punny title (wish I had thought of it myself) — describes the current state of affairs as “a painful holding pattern.”
Well, this morning we do have some Howrey news to report. Above the Law has learned that IP partner Mark Whitaker is leaving the D.C. office of Howrey, his professional home for the past decade or so, to join Baker Botts.
“He’s going to Baker Botts to be the 337 guy,” said a source, referring to Section 337 (19 U.S.C. § 1337), which governs fast-track intellectual property litigation before the International Trade Commission (ITC). “He has a very nice stable of clients he has developed independent of Howrey.”
The hiring of Mark Whitaker — described to us as a “great, great guy,” as well as a former Navy officer (like fellow Howrey partner Richard Beckler) — is a nice coup for Baker Botts, since § 337 expertise is an in-demand area. And luckily for Whitaker, the move won’t mess with his commute: both Howrey and Baker are in the Warner Building, at 1299 Pennsylvania Avenue.
We understand that Whitaker was part of the group of Howrey partners invited to join Winston & Strawn, but he had other plans underway when the Winston talks were announced. His departure from Howrey comes just a few days after WilmerHale’s announcement that it was picking up another noted Howrey IP litigator, Robert Galvin (in Palo Alto).
So that’s the latest Howrey partner news. What’s going on with associates and staff?
* An interesting interview with Professor Benjamin H. Barton about his new book, The Lawyer-Judge Bias in the American Legal System, which demonstrates what many laypeople suspect: namely, that the legal system is rigged to benefit lawyers over the public. Professors Barton and Reynolds discuss why this might be the case and also compare the legal to the medical profession in this respect. [Instavision with Glenn Reynolds / PJTV]
* Eric Turkewitz channeling Mayor Michael Bloomberg: “Look, let’s be blunt here. Who is in a better position to pay the costs of an injury if a city bus injures people? Our strapped city budget, or the victims?” [New York Personal Injury Law Blog]
* Obama says drug legalization is worth a debate. For those scoring at home: we can talk about legalizing drugs, but we can’t talk about controlling guns. [Huffington Post]
* Meanwhile, Florida criminalizes… bath salts? Bonobo Bro has the winning blurb: “Check out this example of the brocist nanny state trying to get in the way of spring break, bath salts that have cocaine like effects and a few other of the principals this great nation was founded on.” [WJHG]
* Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana won’t seek the Republican presidential nomination in 2012. [Politico]
* Speaking of former Republican presidential hopefuls, Fred Thompson prepares to lobby on behalf of trial lawyers. Seriously. Cancel Law & Order and the universe starts breaking down. [WSJ Law Blog]
* The number eight proves lucky for one taker of the New Hampshire bar exam — and the number $140,000, not so lucky. After passing the NH bar exam on his eighth try, the debt-laden lad gets dinged on character and fitness — a familiar tale by now. [Legal Profession Blog via ABA Journal]
* Gotta love it when Jamie Dimon gets catty. [Dealbreaker]
* Twenty six states hate
health care Obama. This law might be more screwed than someone with a pre-existing condition. [Los Angeles Times]
* Handcuffed, blindfolded, beaten, and begging to be deported. I think the Justice Department forgot the safe word. [Mother Jones]
* Thomas Jefferson School of Law has a great connection to paleontology. Dinosaurs are extinct, and so are jobs for fourth-tier law grads! [National Law Journal]
* J. Crew has to find someone to buy all of its overpriced clothing for more than $3 billion. Haven’t these shareholders heard of the clearance rack? [DealBook / New York Times]
* Lawyers who go to rehab are “terminally unique” — they’re self-centered a-holes. So what? Lawyers who don’t go to rehab are a-holes, too. [Huffington Post]
* When the Supreme Court refused to overturn gay marriage in D.C., gay couples and wedding planners alike were thrilled. Redundant? [Belief Blog / CNN]
Now this is a list that matters. Corporate Counsel (an American Lawyer publication) has complied its annual list of the firms that Fortune 100 companies use as outside counsel. This is a list of which firms are getting work from clients with deep pockets. If you care at all about the business end of the law, then you care about this list.
And while the firms that are tapped for this kind of work won’t surprise anybody, it’s always good to take a look at who clients want to be with.
For general corporate law, these are the firms that were mentioned most by clients reporting to the magazine:
Cleary: 12 mentions
Davis Polk: 11 mentions
Cravath: 10 mentions
Simpson Thacher: 10 mentions
Yep, no real surprises there.
But what about some other practice areas? Well, the names start to change…
We’re doing our annual march through the Vault prestige rankings, to give ATL readers the opportunity to have their say about perks and pitfalls at these firms. If your firm actually let you swap your Blackberry for your iPhone, brag here. Or if your firm has such a strong stench that it makes you nauseous, vent here.
We’ve been doing open threads in batches of ten, but now we’re going to pick up the pace. Here are the Vault #41 – 60. This is when the prestige list gets a little more geographically diverse, with firms based in Houston, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Palo Alto and even Pittsburgh:
41. Winston & Strawn
42. Baker Botts
43. Jenner & Block
44. Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft
45. Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati
46. Proskauer Rose
47 (tie). Dewey & LeBoeuf
47 (tie). King & Spalding
48. Goodwin Procter
49. Baker & McKenzie
50. Fulbright & Jaworski
51. Vinson & Elkins
52. McDermott Will & Emery
53. DLA Piper
54. Morgan Lewis & Bockius
55. Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman
56. Bingham McCutchen LLP
57. Dechert LLP
58. Cooley LLP
59. K&L Gates LLP
60. Alston & Bird LLP
We took a spin through their Vault rankings and awarded superlatives, after the jump.
Back in November, Baker Botts told us that they would be moving away from a lockstep associate compensation system and instituting a new merit-based system. Yesterday the firm released the base salary levels for its new four-tiered system. Here’s the statement from the firm regarding the basic changes:
The next phase of a talent management program — moving from a lockstep to levels format to track associate progress at the firm — was announced today by Baker Botts Managing Partner Walt Smith. This new format is the latest enhancement of a multi-year plan to better manage associate development at all experience levels.
“Implementing this program will allow us to remain competitive in our efforts to recruit and retain the best and brightest lawyers,” Smith said. “Importantly, it will help us foster an environment that emphasizes the attributes we believe are essential to our firm’s culture.”…
The compensation aspects of the program will be effective August 1, 2010. Base annual salary for entry-level lawyers will remain at $160,000.
The firm wouldn’t officially release the salary levels for more senior associates, but tipsters gave us the inside scoop…
Everything’s bigger in Texas, including awards for lawyers who sue firms for making misleading promises during the wooing period.
Gary Cruciani sued asbestos litigation firm Baron & Budd and its managing partner Russell Budd in 2008, for luring him away from McKool Smith with “negligent and fraudulent misrepresentations,” according to a lengthy Texas Lawyer article:
Cruciani alleges Budd “completely misrepresented the compensation system at Baron & Budd and the upside that allegedly existed there,” and Budd showed his “greed” when he paid himself a $50 million bonus in December 2005, which was 75 percent of the firm’s bonus pool that year.
Note to partners with a wandering eye: If a firm describes its compensation system as “Hully Gully,” be wary. In addition to misrepresenting the firm’s compensation system, Budd also neglected to tell Cruciani that there was bad blood between him and co-founding partner Fred Baron.
After hearing a host of counterclaims during a six-week trial, the jury sided with Cruciani, and decided the lost income and the impact on his future earnings warranted a $8.8 million award.
According to the Dallas Observer, the local legal community was shocked by the size of the award. Why was it so big?