It took a little longer than most of you expected, but Cravath, Swaine & Moore just announced its 2011 associate bonuses (not long after announcing its new partners). Barring something very unforeseen, these bonuses are what many Biglaw firms, in New York and across the land, will pay out this year to their people. Historically Cravath has set the market with respect to year-end associate bonuses at major law firms.
The Cravath bonuses are what you might expect. They are in line with recent years, nothing crazy high or ridiculously low. Both Occupy Wall Street types and law firm associates can put away the pitchforks.
Let’s take a look at the official memorandum, and engage in some analysis….
Is making partner at a major law firm as desirable as it used to be? In an interesting article in the New York Times about the growing trend of lawyers leaving large firms to start their own boutiques, Margie Grossberg, a partner at the legal recruiting firm of Major, Lindsey & Africa, offered these observations: “In the past, associates found if they worked really hard and did the right things, they made partner. That’s not necessarily the case anymore. The odds are a lot slimmer, and it’s also not as coveted as it once was.”
At the same time, however, let’s face it: being a partner at a top law firm is still highly desirable. The pay, prestige, and perks are tremendous. In a recent survey of new partners by the American Lawyer, over 80 percent of respondents said their new jobs were either what they expected or better than they expected. As Aric Press of Am Law noted, “new partners are basking in the land of more: more money, more responsibility, and more information about their firms.”
* People seriously need to stop complaining about alternative careers for attorneys. Having a JD can lead to a fulfilling career outside of the law, assuming you can make partner at Cravath first. [DealBook / New York Times]
* Due to a decline in filing fees on the killing of the American dream, the Florida court system had to take out a $45.6M loan. It’s kind of like they have their own unpayable mortgage now. Gotta love karma. [Miami Herald]
* The ABA Journal really wants to know how hard it is for recent law school graduates to find a job. Maybe if we flood them with responses, the ABA will give a sh*t. Ugh, I’m way too optimistic. [ABA Journal]
* If you’re willing to move to Iowa, here’s a niche practice alert for you: stripper law. Who thought that you could find work in limiting boob exposure? And why would you want to? [Des Moines Register]
* We all know Michael Jackson was bad, but was he bad enough to drink his propofol straight up? Conrad Murray’s defense team may have changed its tune. [CNN]
* Did a judge seriously think he could arraign someone with close ties to the Wu? He’s lucky True Master didn’t let the killa bees out on his ass. [DNAinfo]
Say hello to the Global 100 for 2011. This is the American Lawyer’s list of the world’s 100 largest law firms, ranked by total revenue.
There’s a lot of economic anxiety these days, with fears of a double-dip recession running rampant. But looking back — the list is compiled based on 2010 revenue numbers — the legal business seems to be hanging in there. As noted by Am Law, total revenue for the Global 100 increased by 3 percent last year.
Lawyers are a competitive lot. So you’re probably less interested in the overall figures than in how different firms fared in the rankings….
Law school isn’t a bad choice or financially ruinous choice for everybody — just for many people.
Given the state of the legal economy, it sometimes feels like law schools are pumping out two classes of law students. The first blessed group of people can follow a “traditional” path to financial security: summer at a Biglaw firm, get an offer, work there for a few years while paying off debt, etc.
The other group consists of the law school have-nots. They didn’t get Biglaw summer associate offers because the supply of legal jobs has contracted while the number of available law students has increased. The “secondary” or “local” markets aren’t hiring either. Public interest work doesn’t quite pay the bills. Nobody is coming to interview them 3L year. They are members of the Lost Generation.
There are, of course, more law school have-nots than there are lucky ones. That’s just the way of things. But law schools tend to trumpet the few stories of success while ignoring the many stories of distress.
We’ve talked about all of this before, of course. But today we have an interesting opportunity to take a peek inside the head of a successful candidate — and see just how myopic his worldview is. And we can look at the thoughts of a have-not — and see just how bitter he’s become.
Below are two emails. One came from a summer associate at Cravath, raving about his wonderful, awesome world. The other is a response written by a rising 3L describing his no good, very bad employment prospects….
I'm pretty sure this was the only child to die under suspicious circumstances in the past three years.
* Caylee’s Law would make it a felony for anybody to grieve for their child in any way that doesn’t involve law enforcement within the hour. I trust the libertarian crowd is going to help me point out how this is dumb. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Big time antitrust lawyer Christine A. Varney is leaving the Justice Department and heading to Cravath (perhaps as a replacement of sorts for Katherine Forrest). So it looks like there was some money left over after spring bonuses for Cravath to make a new hire. Phew. [Dealbook]
* Even judges in Flori-duh are allegedly bats**t crazy. [Obscure Store]
* In more reasonable news coming out of Florida, this reminds me of the “mock trial” club in high school. [Miami New Times]
* Courtesy of NALP, here’s more evidence that the class of 2010 is totally screwed. You know, I wish I could have the entire class over to my house for a big pity party. We could all hang out and play Rock Band, and at the end everybody could have a cup of my delicious homemade Kool-Aid. [NALP]
* Chicago law firm merger mania? I just hope nothing messes with the name “Wildman Harrold.” [ABA Journal]
That year, Latham fell from #7 to #17 on the Vault 100 list of the most prestigious law firms. It was one of the biggest single year drops ever on the Vault list. At the time, I asked: “Is this as far as [Latham] will fall?”
Two years removed from that question, I’m staring at the brand-new Vault 100 rankings. Latham & Watkins is ranked #11.
Memory, my friends, is not something they screen for on the LSAT…
Katherine Forrest: You'd smile too if you were this rich.
I recently wrote about Katherine B. Forrest, the celebrated litigatrix nominated to a federal judgeship on the breathtakingly prestigious Southern District of New York. Forrest currently serves as a deputy assistant attorney general in the Department of Justice’s antitrust division, but before joining the DOJ she was a longtime partner at Cravath, Swaine & Moore — a premier, if not the premier, American law firm. Forrest was one of CSM’s most popular (and most powerful) young partners.
So here’s what I wondered: Why did the amazingly accomplished Forrest, a partner at super-lucrative Cravath for over a dozen years, declare a mere $4.3 million on her net worth statement? Granted, $4.3 million is nothing to scoff at; KBF is rich (even by Elie’s standards). But it seemed to me that a lawyer of her distinction, who was a partner at a top firm for such a long time, should be even richer.
Thanks to information from helpful readers who saw my earlier post, I now know the truth. As it turns out, Katherine Forrest is considerably wealthier than that $4.3 million number suggests.
A college graduate without student loan debt is akin to reading a kind quote about Kim Kardashian in a tabloid—it’s rare.
In the past eight years, student loan debt has nearly tripled to a whopping $1.1 trillion, and in the past 10 years, the percentage of 25-year-olds with such debt has risen from 25% to 43%
It’s gotten so bad, in fact, that New York Fed economists warned last month that the burden of student debt could stilt consumer spending by twentysomethings, as well as further hamper the recovery of the housing market and economy.
To get a better idea of what massive student loan debt (we’re talking over $100,000 massive) looks like, we talked to an attorney who graduated with a large student loan debt. We also consulted LearnVest Planning Services CFP® Katie Brewer to see just how their repayment plans stack up.
S. Fischer, 36, Attorney Graduated: 2001
How Much I Borrowed: $100,000
What I Still Owe: $45,000
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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: email@example.com.
Deal flow has clearly picked recently up for most US associates, counsels and partners in Hong Kong/China and Singapore. We are on the phone with a lot of these folks on a daily basis, many of whom we have known for years. Further, the head of our Asia team, Evan Jowers, and Kinney’s founder and president, Robert Kinney, frequently meet in person with leading US partners in Asia to assess their needs and keep on top of the inside scoop at as many firms as possible. The need for legal recruiting help in Asia from experienced recruiters appears to be live and well. In March, Evan and Robert were in Beijing at such meetings, in April, Evan was in Hong Kong, and for half of June Evan will be in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Thus its pretty easy for us to tell when there has been an across-the-market pick up in capital markets and corporate work.
On an average day in Asia when Evan and Robert visit firms, they typically have 5 to 9 meetings a day, mostly with US partners in the market. The reason they have these meetings is not simply because Kinney makes a lot of US attorney placements in Asia and that a particular firm may have openings; instead these are just visits with friends. After years of working together as business partners, the folks at Kinney are actually these peoples’ friends. The firms Kinney work closely with in Asia (which is just about every law firm – call us if you want to know the one firm in the world we will never place anyone with again, ever, and why) look forward to the visits, or at least act like they do. After seven years in the market, many of the client partners are former associate candidates. Also, these US partners see Kinney as a very good source of market information as well, because they know how deep their contacts are in the market and how frequently they are speaking to counterparts at peer firms.
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