Covington & Burling

Let’s all take a deep breath. Associate bonus season, which usually wraps up sometime in January, looks like it’s been extended well into April. This is just more proof that Biglaw firms don’t actually collude. No rational business person would want to be making decisions in April 2011 about how much to pay employees for 2010 performance.

For those trying to keep score, there seem to be the following categories of firms (roughly using a letter-grade system):

A – Firms that are paying Cravath-level spring bonuses in all offices. (Example: Cravath.) [FN1]
B – Firms that are paying Sullivan & Cromwell-level spring bonuses in all offices. (Example: S&C.)
C – Firms that are paying spring bonuses in New York but not elsewhere, like California or D.C.. (Example: Read more below.)
D – Firms that are not paying spring bonuses because their year-end bonuses beat the Cravath year-end bonuses, and they’re hoping their associates can’t add. (Example: CHECK YOU QUINN EMANUEL.)
F – Firms that are not paying spring bonuses and invite disgruntled associates to S some D if they don’t like it. (Example: Jones “We can still hear all the poors who live inside your black box” Day.)

Right now, we want to focus on Group C. Group B gets a pass because they started the spring bonus phenomenon and goddamnit we’re going to respect that. Partners at firms in Groups D & F will have to examine their own motives for why they want their associates to secretly hate them.

But Group C is weird. Why create inter-office jealousy and rage when most top firms are paying spring bonuses in all of their offices? Why look that desperate to save a little bit of money?

And you can’t spell “Weird Cost-Cutting” without White & Case

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: Which Firms Are Springing Only in New York?”

We will have a new winner in this year’s Coolest Law Firm contest. When Above the Law first ran this bracket back in 2008, you picked Latham & Watkins as the victor. This time around, they got… Lathamed, in the first round. Cravath crushed Latham by a 60% – 40% margin. That was the second-highest margin of victory among all of the first-round match-ups.

So, for those playing along at home, paying a spring bonus is “more cool” than not paying a spring bonus.

As we move into the Elite Eight, some of our readers are asking us to give a more clear definition of what is “cool.” We respectfully decline to do so. It’s up to you to tell us what makes a top law firm cool. Is it job security, making maximum bank, prestige points? It’s really up to you. Personally I think the coolest law firm would be the one most likely to represent bad-ass clients on the correct side of moral issues, but… eeek, that’s not really what Biglaw is all about.

So bring your own prejudices to the table when you vote in the next round of the Coolest Law Firm Tournament. Use whatever reasoning makes sense to you. Just don’t go with chalk because you can’t be bothered to actually form an opinion — don’t be boring, son….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “ATL March Madness: The Coolest Law Firm Elite Eight”

Partnership: the proverbial brass ring.

‘Tis the season — for new partner elections at large law firms. Although there are some exceptions, most firms pick and announce their new partner classes around November and December, with partnership effective on January 1 of the following year.

These partnership announcements sometimes contain interesting information, if you read between the lines. As we’ve previously observed, “Partnership decisions often shed light on the current state of a firm, its prospects for the future, and its priorities. How many new partners did a firm make? How does the number of new partners this year compare to past years? In which practice areas did it make new partners? How many of the new partners are women or minorities?”

After the jump, we look at new partner news from ten top firms — perhaps you know some of these law firm superstars (and soon-to-be millionaires)? — and we invite you to discuss the new partners at your firm….

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A Westboro Baptist Church protester.

* Does this explain Boies Schiller’s great media coverage? Their PR person is in bed with the media. [Gawker and AllThingsD]

* Speaking of romantic entanglements, here are six rules for law firm dating, in case you don’t follow Rule #1: Don’t. [Sweet Hot Justice]

* McDermott isn’t the only law firm switching digs. The folks at Ropes always struck us as Prudential people. [Ropes & Gray]

* The defendants in the Robert Wone civil case have moved for a gag order — which isn’t surprising, since they have a thing for gags. [Who Murdered Robert Wone?]

* A nice round-up of reactions to Snyder v. Phelps, aka the Westboro Baptist Church case, and the Pincus Family Law firm’s controversial website. [Infamy or Praise]

* Do WestlawNext and Amazon use the same design firm? [Law Riot]

* Is America “drowning in law”? Covington partner Philip K. Howard, author of Life Without Lawyers, thinks so. [New York Daily News]

Working Mother just released its annual list of the top 100 companies to work for. As we are (hopefully) coming out of the recession, it is possible that people might actually start caring again about family issues and work/life balance issues.

This year, four law firms made the list. Before we get to the “winners,” let’s take a look at the process required to be up for consideration. To be on the list, first you have to fill out an application with 600 questions.

What is the magazine looking for? Here’s the explanation from their methodology section:

Eight areas are scored: workforce profile; benefits; women’s issues and advancement; child care; flexible work; paid time off and leaves; company culture; and work-life programs. An essay regarding best practices to support working mothers is also evaluated…

Working Mother considers not only the programs, benefits and opportunities offered by companies but also recently settled, decided or still-pending gender discrimination lawsuits.

An essay, do you say? Well, so much for rigid objectivity in list making.

Still, the four law firm winners should be proud. Let’s highlight them from out of the other top 100 companies…

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(But Do Law Firms Still Discriminate When It Comes to Pay?)”

If you are new to Above the Law, you might not remember Yolanda Young. She’s an African-American woman who used to work as a staff attorney at Covington & Burling. Some time ago, she sued the firm for racial and gender discrimination. You can read all about her claims here.

Regular readers of this site are already thinking: “Wait, didn’t that suit get dismissed?” ATL veterans are working on their obese/race-baiting/marine mammal mad libs as we speak.

But before we get to those fresh horrors, you all should know something: a federal judge has reinstated part of Yolanda Young’s case against Covington…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Yolanda Young Is Once Again in Covington’s Face”

I have been writing for Above the Law since March of 2008. This Monday, though, will be my last day as a daily contributor. I am heading over to Forbes to write about privacy, law, social media, and technology (aka The Not-So Private Parts). For those who will miss my daily presence on ATL, please feel free to check me out there, or to friend me on Facebook, or to follow me on Twitter. I’ll also be writing a weekly column for Above the Law.

Lat, Elie, and I are going to be getting drinks after work at The Ninth Ward to help numb the separation pain. Please feel free to join us if you’re in New York. Though only if you’re not a weirdo. (You know who you are; but to clarify, weirdos are not those who would show up, but are among those who voted this up.) We’ll be there from six to eight p.m.

As many of you know, unlike my co-editors, I’m not a lawyer. I’m just a little journalist. I appreciate that, despite this moral and educational failing on my part, all of you lawyers and law students have put up with my writing about your profession. Professors Lat and Mystal have offered excellent legal lessons, as have the real law professors I have had the pleasure of interviewing. Plus, I date spend an inordinate amount of time hanging out with lawyers outside of work, and so have a solid appreciation for the terror of living under the reign of the billable hour.

I also did some hourly billing myself way back when; my first job out of college in 2003 was as a paralegal in the D.C. office of Covington & Burling, an experience that convinced me not to apply to law school (despite having rocked the LSAT). During my first summer in D.C., I lived in a five-bedroom apartment in Van Ness with four summer associates — from Harvard, Columbia, Yale, and Georgetown. We were five corporate law strangers picked to live in a house (vacated by the Georgetown law student’s roommates for the summer). That was where I picked up some useful stereotypes about students from these elite law schools. I came away from the summer with a strong dislike for HLS kids…

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Some summer associates are ending their summers on a very positive note. Quite a few firms have already informed law school students that after this summer fling, they’re interested in a more serious relationship.

Since our last round-up of offices extending offers to 100% of their summer associates, we’ve heard from a few more contented summers…

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Legal Eagle Wedding Watch, like the rest of the nuptial media, is in a state of giddy anticipation over Chelsea Clinton’s upcoming wedding, scheduled for tomorrow in Rhinebeck, NY. We’ll be gobbling up all the juicy details as they leak out, just like the lucky guests will be devouring the vegan and gluten-free fare. Yum!

Chelsea’s big day is one of the social events of the season and is estimated to have up to a $2 million pricetag. This week’s featured weddings may not quite reach that stratospheric territory, but they do have lawyers out the wazoo (unfortunately, neither Chelsea nor her fiancé has a JD; her parents, of course, have two).

Our contestant couples:

1. Farah Peterson and Eugene Sokoloff

2. Julia Lipez and Nolan Reichl

3. Lauren Sasser and Scott McCulloch

Read on for details on these fabulous newlyweds.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Legal Eagle Wedding Watch 6.27 – 7.4: Circuit Circus”

When I wrote the open thread on the Vault top ten, I wanted to say that none of the top firms froze salaries during the recession. But I couldn’t, because back in November Covington & Burling surprised many people by freezing associate salaries outside of New York.

But as we mentioned at the beginning of this month, salary shenanigans are so 2009. 2010 is the year of salary normalcy.

It appears that Covington received the memo…

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