Barry Wolf

Two litigation partners in the Washington office of Weil Gotshal, Michael Lyle and Eric Lyttle, have left Weil to join the D.C. office of Quinn Emanuel. Lyle, a successful trial lawyer who also worked in the White House during the Clinton Administration, was particularly prominent at Weil Gotshal: he served as managing partner of the D.C. office and was a member of the firm’s management committee.

Quinn Emanuel has been on a lateral hiring tear, so it’s not exactly shocking when they lure stars away from other firms. And QE’s Washington office has been particularly active on the hiring front. Just last month, for example, they hired a longtime federal prosecutor, Sam Sheldon, deputy chief of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, out of the Justice Department.

So here’s what is especially interesting about the Lyle and Lyttle departures: how Weil reacted to the news. Let’s just say Weil didn’t take it sitting down….

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Congratulations! You made it!

Few people are happier about the world’s surviving the Mayan Apocalypse than new partners at top law firms. Can you imagine slaving away in Biglaw for almost (or even over) a decade, finally winning election to the partnership in late 2012, and then having the world end before your hard-won partner status took effect?

Fortunately that didn’t happen. Heck, we didn’t even go over the fiscal cliff. But some people will have to pay higher taxes this year (and for many years to come).

Like these people: the talented and hardworking lawyers who, as of January 1, 2013, became partners of their respective law firms. Let’s find out who they are, so we can congratulate them….

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We recently reported that Weil Gotshal will be paying associate bonuses for 2012 in January 2013. This was a return to the firm’s historical practice, after two years of trying out December as the payment month, but some readers attributed ulterior tax motives to the firm.

The firm just issued its bonus memo for this year, announcing its latest position on the timing of bonus payments. And Weil diverges from the Cravath 2012 bonus scale, actually….

Please note the UPDATE added after the jump.

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Yesterday, Cravath made it rain with a decent bonus scale, especially for those who survived the meltdown. A fifth-year associate at Cravath is making $230,000 in base salary and will receive a $34,000 bonus. Nice work if you can get it. (Actually, it’s not nice work. It’s grueling, soul-crushing. Luckily, most people can’t get it.)

Soon after the Cravath bonuses came out, Weil Gotshal issued some bonus news of its own. The firm is expected to match Cravath, but yesterday Weil announced that it won’t pay bonuses until the end of January, 2013. The timing represents a change for Weil; in recent years, the firm has paid out bonuses in December, not January.

Is it no big deal? Well, if you are a fifth-year expecting a Cravath-level bonus, it could be a huge deal. That bonus is going to push you over the $250,000 mark, and that could make a big difference if we’re talking about 2012 versus 2013…

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Now is the time on ATL when we dance — around the subject of money. With just two months left in the year, law firms are focused on collections, associates are focused on bonuses, and partners are focused on profits. Even though money is not the be-all and end-all of law practice, as we have emphasized in these pages before, it’s a topic that people follow — and a topic that we will therefore be covering closely in what remains of 2012.

Earlier this week, the American Lawyer magazine touched upon a topic that doesn’t get as much attention as it should in the world of Biglaw: compensation for non-equity partners. Let’s take a look at Am Law’s findings….

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An awning taken down by Sandy.

Hurricane Sandy hit the legal world hard, as we’ve chronicled in these pages. And many lawyers and legal employers are still feeling its effects — quite literally. If you work at one prominent downtown law firm, for example, we hope you’re wearing thermal underwear.

As we mentioned on Friday, some individuals have been exploiting the Superstorm Sandy crisis to take advantage of others. The Justice Department and the SEC have issued warnings about various “Sandy scams.”

On the opposite end of the decency spectrum, some lawyers and law firms are stepping up to the plate and supporting Hurricane Sandy relief and recovery efforts. Let’s see what they’re doing — and give them some well-deserved kudos for their work….

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After yesterday’s excitement over the Boies Schiller bonuses, we’re back to the Cravath scale. Today Weil Gotshal came out with its year-end bonuses. The firm is matching Cravath.

Our sources report the Weil scale starts at $7,500 for full first-year associates — no stub-year bonus for the class of 2011, like at Milbank — and tops out $37,500.

UPDATE (12/15/11): Weil just announced that it will pay $42,500 to its most-senior associates, in accordance with the Sullivan & Cromwell bonus scale. Memo below.

Actually, for Weil associates this “match” could be even worse than last year’s bonuses. That’s because Weil followed through on its promise to phase out extra cash for top performers….

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Last week, we told you that Weil Gotshal was waiting to see how the other top-tier dominoes fell before deciding on spring bonuses. Well, since that time, many dominoes have fallen, all in line behind Cravath. Davis Polk, Skadden Arps, and now Paul Weiss have all matched the Cravath spring bonus scale. Cravath’s bonuses are a little bit more generous than the spring bonuses previously announced by Sullivan & Cromwell.

Weil was trying to figure out which firm, Cravath or S&C, the market would follow. It looks like that’s going to be Cravath.

Tipsters report that earlier today, Weil decided to fall in line….

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As we just mentioned, Sullivan & Cromwell has not yet announced its bonuses. It seems that several other top law firms are keeping their powder dry until S&C fires.

But Weil Gotshal, which previously committed itself to “compensating Associates at market rates” and paying “2010 bonuses that are commensurate with bonuses paid by peer firms,” apparently believes that the “market rate” has been set — by Cravath.

Check out their latest memo, which also (1) confirms that Weil associates will get their customary seniority-based base salary increases in January (no surprise there), and (2) contains numbers for the “Distinguished” bonuses awarded to high-performing midlevel and senior associates….

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The latest firm to announce that it’s matching the market — which, at the current time, is embodied in the Cravath bonus scale — is Weil Gotshal. According to the memo, from executive partner Barry Wolf, Weil associates “will be paid 2010 bonuses that are commensurate with bonuses paid by peer firms.”

We assume this is Weil-speak for Cravath bonuses — or higher, if another “peer firm” decides to best Cravath. The Weil bonuses will be paid on December 23.

The full memo — available after the jump, along with reactions from Weil sources — contains good news, and bad news….

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