Today brings news that David Boies, one of the finest trial lawyers of our time, is working for $50 an hour. Who says you can’t afford affordable, high-quality legal representation in this country?
Fortunately, the associates who work for him are taking home quite a bit more. As we alluded to earlier today, Boies Schiller & Flexner just announced — and paid out — some pretty amazing associate bonuses.
Let’s get some numbers and reactions. We also have comments from David Boies himself, who spoke with us this morning about a wide range of subjects — associate bonuses, of course; his firm’s overall performance in 2012, its best year ever; and what the U.S. Supreme Court might do in Hollingsworth v. Perry (aka the Proposition 8 case), which he has been litigating alongside Ted Olson, his opposing counsel from the Bush v. Gore days….
Year-end bonus news continues to roll in from the major law firms, with one notable exception: Sullivan & Cromwell. The silence makes me think S&C is cooking up something. It’s one of the few firms with the wherewithal and the gumption to best Cravath’s already healthy bonuses.
We’re limiting our discussion here, of course, to the big lockstep firms. Outside that world, some firms beat Cravath every year — likes Boies Schiller & Flexner, founded by Cravath’s most famous former partner, David Boies. We’ll have a report on the Boies bonuses later today; if you’re at BSF and care to share your reaction, email us or text us (646-820-8477).
In the meantime, let’s check out the bonus news of Shearman & Sterling. It’s a bit different from the announcements we’ve reported on thus far….
* Speaking of apps, te “App from Hell” would be more interesting if it were actually an app. But hiring Professor Dan Solove to teach your colleagues about privacy is still a good idea. [Teach Privacy]
* A dean of the University of Ottawa Law School wrote an op-ed defending Canadian law schools (which aren’t even as bad as U.S. law schools). Remember when deans didn’t have to defend law schools because there were “jobs” for “new attorneys”? [Canadian Lawyer]
* Here’s an article about Formula 1 racing that you don’t need Google translator to read. [Dealbook]
* Bonus podcast! I mean, Lat did a podcast with the ABA Journal about bonuses, not that there’s a podcast you can listen to in order to get a bonus. [ABA Journal]
* Bonus Lat! I mean, here’s a story about David Lat and the changing coverage of law firms and the legal profession. [Details]
Last year, Milbank Tweed diverged from the Cravath bonus scale, but in a nice way. Milbank paid a pro-rated $7,500 to first-year associates who had been at the firm for just a few months (so-called “stub” first-years). Cravath didn’t pay any bonuses to stub first-year associates last year, so in a sense, Milbank “beat” the Cravath scale.
This year, though, Cravath adopted the Milbank maneuver. Cravath paid a pro-rated $10,000 to members of the class of 2012, making this part of the standard bonus scale.
So what did Milbank do this year to distinguish itself from Cravath in terms of bonuses?
When it comes to its associates, Paul Weiss has a few “crazy ones.” But when it comes to its associate bonuses, the firm is extremely rational.
Last night, around the time the Skadden bonuses came in, Paul Weiss also announced its 2012 bonus scale. Just as it did last year, the firm matched Cravath. PW will pay bonuses on December 21, the same date as Cravath and Skadden.
Was there ever any doubt that Paul Weiss would match?
Stick a fork in it, because it’s almost done. There’s a high likelihood that the 2012 associate bonus season is complete, at least for all practical purposes, and if so, it will look a lot like past bonus seasons: Cravath leads, and everyone else follows.
“High likelihood,” but not yet a certainty. There’s one major wild card that’s still out: Sullivan & Cromwell, which sometimes takes the lead on associate compensation. Remember, of course, that the 2011 spring bonuses were brought to you by S&C. One could certainly see a scenario in which Sullivan & Cromwell trumps Cravath, in order to get Cravath back for how CSM showed up S&C on spring bonuses.
Unless and until Sullivan & Cromwell beats Cravath, though, we’re playing the usual game of follow Cravath. Let’s check out the latest firm to fall in line….
Well, so much for that! Time for me to end my short-lived career as a fortune teller or law firm consultant.
Within minutes of my wondering whether firms might not match the generous 2012 Cravath bonus scale — and my suggesting, ever so gently, that firms might want to at least put some thought into whether matching made sense for them financially — one major law firm announced a match of the Cravath lucre.
When it comes to bonus payments, Simpson Thacher will not take a backseat to Cravath. Let’s get the details….
We haven’t had one for a while. In the past few years, things have followed the usual pattern: the market leader, Cravath, announces bonuses, and everyone else follows.
The last truly interesting bonus season took place in 2008. That year, instead of waiting for Cravath, Skadden moved first and offered generous bonuses (regular year-end bonuses at 2007 levels, just no “special” or supplemental bonuses). The following day, Cravath announced bonuses that were essentially half of Skadden’s. This led my colleague, Elie Mystal, to develop and deploy the term “Half-Skadden” to refer to the bonuses offered by Cravath and its (many grateful) followers.
But this year raises an interesting question: Could Cravath get… Cravathed? Could this be the year of “Half-Cravath” bonuses?
UPDATE (11:00 AM): Or maybe not. Note the update at the end of this post about one leading firm that just matched Cravath.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We currently have a very exciting and rare type of in-house opening in China at one of the world’s leading internet and social media companies. Our client is looking for an IP Transactional / TMT / Licensing attorney with 2 to 6 years experience. The new hire will be based in Shenzhen or Shanghai. Mandarin is not required (deal documentation will be in English) but is preferred. A solid reason to be in China and a commitment to that market is required of course. This new hire will likely be US qualified (but could also be qualified in UK or other jurisdictions) and with experience and training at a top law firm’s IP transactional / TMT practice and could be currently at a law firm or in-house. Qualified candidates currently Asia based, Europe based or US based will be considered. The new hire’s supervisors in this technology transactions in-house team are very well regarded US trained IP transactional lawyers, with substantial experience at Silicon Valley firms. The culture and atmosphere in this in-house group and the company in general is entrepreneurial, team oriented, and the work is cutting edge, even for a cutting edge industry. The upside of being in an important strategic in-house position in this fast growing and world leading internet company is of the “sky is the limit” variety. Its a very exciting place to be in China for a rising IP transactional lawyer in our opinion, for many reasons beyond the basic info we can share here in this ad / post. This is a special A+ opportunity.
If your firm is in ‘go’ mode when it comes to recruiting lateral partners with loyal clients, then take this quiz to see how well you measure up. Keep track of your ‘yes’ and ‘no’ responses.
1. Does your firm have a clearly defined strategy of practice groups that are priorities of growth for your office? Nothing gets done by random chance, but with a clear vision for the future. Identify the top practice areas for which you wish to add lateral partners. Seek input from practice group leaders and get specifics on needs, outcomes, and ideal target profiles.
2. In addition to clarifying your firm’s growth strategy, are you still open to the hire of a partner outside of your plan? I’ve made several placements that fit this category. The partner’s practice was not within the strategic growth plan of my client, but once the two parties started talking with each other, we all saw how it could indeed be a seamless fit. Be open to “Opportunistic Hires.” You never know where your next producing partner might come from, so you have to be open to it. I will be the first to admit that there is a quirky element of randomness in recruiting.
The traditional job application and interview process can be impersonal, and applicants often struggle to present themselves as more than just the sum of their GPAs, alma maters, and previous work history. ATL has partnered with ViewYou to help job seekers overcome this challenge. ViewYou NOW Profiles offer a unique way for job seekers to make a personal, memorable connection with prospective employers: introduction videos. These videos allow job candidates to display their personalities, interpersonal skills, and professional interests, creating an eDossier to brand themselves to potential employers all over the world. Check it out today!