Evan Chesler

Consider the evidence, from the website of Cravath. We’re guessing this change was made a while ago, perhaps when Cravath overhauled its home page last June, but we didn’t notice it until a Cravath alum pointed it out to us just now.

Let’s take a look….

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Floyd Abrams of Cahill and Evan Chesler of Cravath: two great lawyers who are also great to work for.

With all the negative press surrounding partners lately — see, e.g., here and here — it’s about time for some good news, about good partners.

Last month we asked you to nominate the best partners you work for, tell us why they are the best, and rate them in six categories: expertise within the practice area, quality of work given to associates, hands-on training given to associates, provision of feedback on associate work, respect for associates’ schedules, and professionalism with associates. And we didn’t even have to pay these associates to say nice things about the partners they nominated.

Over the next few weeks, the ATL Career Center, hosted by Lateral Link, will bring you the list of the best partners to work for, divided up by geographic region. This week we will focus on New York, Above the Law’s home base, and give you the top 24 partners to work for in the Big Apple as nominated by you, our readers.

Let’s look at the first eight, shall we?

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Judge Richard Posner made one remark that stole the show at a panel about regulation at the recent American Constitution Society conference. We summarized his quip on Twitter:

Judge Posner at ACS panel: For my home equity loan, I got 100s of pages of documentation; I didn’t read, I just signed. #ACS10 #Posner #LOL

This generated laughter from the crowd, due to Judge Posner’s status as one of the greatest legal minds of his (or any other) generation. It was amusing to imagine the brilliant Posner flipping page after page of paperwork and mechanically scribbling next to every “Sign Here” flag, without even bothering to read what he was signing. It’s the kind of behavior one would expect from a person earning $35,000 and a buying a $600,000 home two hours outside of Phoenix, circa 2006 — but not from one of America’s leading jurists.

As it turns out, Judge Posner isn’t the only boldface name of the legal profession who skips over the fine print in form contracts….

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Richard Posner and Evan Chesler don’t; do you?


It’s not American Idol.

– Cravath presiding partner Evan Chesler, explaining that his firm makes offers to all (or almost all) of its summer associates, at a panel discussion today at NYU Law School.

stratego law firm strategy.jpgLast week, at the PLI Law Firm Leadership and Management Institute, three prominent law firm leaders opined on this question: “Why must law firms be strategic?” Each leader described his own firm’s approach to issues of strategy.

The panel, moderated by Mark Shapiro of Blaqwell, Inc., featured an all-star cast:

What these gents had to say, after the jump.

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Insights from WilmerHale, Cravath, and McDermott.

Year-end bonuses have been announced at the market-leading firm of Cravath, Swaine & Moore. And they are even lower than last year’s Cravath bonuses.

But look, this is 2009. Welcome to the Great Recession. Your true bonus is: you get to keep your job. That shouldn’t be taken for granted, even at Cravath.

Anyway, here’s the Cravath bonus scale for 2009 (via the WSJ Law Blog):

Class of 2008 — $7,500
Class of 2007 — $10,000
Class of 2006 — $15,000
Class of 2005 — $20,000
Class of 2004 — $25,000
Class of 2003 — $30,000
Class of 2002 — $30,000

Cravath’s bonus announcement is always important because the market tends to follow Cravath — as it did last year. Skadden’s 2008 bonuses, at roughly twice Cravath’s levels, were ignored.

Could this year be different? Are the Cravath bonus levels low enough such that a firm of similar or even lower prestige will try to better CSM? Or will other Biglaw shops simply avail themselves of the political cover provided by Cravath — which is arguably what happened last year, when Skadden’s generous bonuses went unmatched (excluding Wachtell)?

So, readers, what do you think? Read the FULL MEMO, take a READER POLL, and COMMENT — after the jump.

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animated siren gif animated siren gif animated siren gif drudge report.GIFIf you work at Cravath, Swaine & Moore, prepare to be very, very angry. From the bonus memo just issued by presiding partner Evan Chesler:

Both 2006 and 2007 were extraordinary years for our Firm. In 2006 we paid large year-end bonuses to our associates, and in 2007 we further supplemented those bonuses. As a result of the deterioration of the business environment, the Firm’s financial performance in 2008 will not be in line with those earlier years. While the Firm believes that we should pay year-end bonuses this year, in light of the current business climate we do not think it is appropriate to pay the full bonuses that were paid in 2006 and 2007 or the additional supplemental bonuses paid in 2007.

Just yesterday, Skadden announced that they would match the 2006/2007 bonuses less the “special” bonus paid in 2007. For Cravath to come in under that number is pretty surprising. The official Cravath bonus structure for 2008 is as follows:

law firm associate bonus watch 2008 biglaw bonuses.jpgClass of 2008 — $17,500 (pro-rated)

Class of 2007 — $17,500
Class of 2006 — $20,000
Class of 2005 — $22,500
Class of 2004 — $25,000
Class of 2003 — $27,500
Class of 2002 — $30,000
Class of 2001 — $30,000

Suddenly, the question is no longer “Is Skadden the ceiling?” Instead, we must ponder “Is Cravath the floor?”

Done being angry? Okay. Now prepared to get very, very frightened:

Given the uncertainty of the economy and the business climate going forward, we will not be able to address the issue of whether there will be any year-end bonuses in 2009 until this time next year. However, associates should be prepared for the likelihood that the economy and the Firm’s financial performance next year will not show a significant improvement over this year and they may receive significantly reduced or no year-end bonuses next year.

Update (6:22 PM): Of all the tips that have crashed ATL’s inbox in the last 45 minutes, this one best captures the raging rage people are feeling:

WTF does Cravath think it’s doing? They’re basically threatening no bonus for NEXT YEAR? They’re not being Nostradamus, they’re trying to force people out. Cravath associates will get that memo, collect their garbage 2008 [bonus] and lateral the hell out before they get screwed again.

Why not just conduct stealth layoffs? Forced attrition is the same thing. Go home, Cravath. You’re embarrassing yourself.

Read the full memo after the jump.

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