Fabulosity

David Boies

Associate bonuses at market-leading Cravath and all of Cravath’s followers are staying the same this year. As I’ve stated in these pages, and on CNBC and Bloomberg, this is a good thing. In times of uncertainty and instability for Biglaw, treading water is a victory.

But just because this year’s bonuses are good news doesn’t mean there isn’t better news out there. Today the better news comes from the litigation powerhouse of Boies Schiller & Flexner, where the average bonus was $85,000 and the top bonus was $300,000 — even higher than last year’s $250,000.

Even if you bill like a maniac — and BSF’s compensation system does reward the industrious — how on earth do you get to a $300,000 bonus? We spoke with legendary litigator David Boies, founding partner and chairman of the firm, to find out….

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Since 2008, Crain’s New York Business has produced a list of the Best Places to Work in New York City. Each year, a few law firms sneak onto the list, much like the situation with Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For list.

This year, seven law firms made Crain’s list, while only four made Fortune’s list, as of January 2012. Just two firms overlap between Crain’s and Fortune’s lists.

Which ones are considered tops in the city that never sleeps? Let’s find out…

Please note the UPDATE to this post below.

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Your ATL editors: David Lat, Staci Zaretsky, Joe Patrice, and Elie Mystal.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year: a time for law firm bonuses, new partner announcements, holiday cards (including our annual contest), holiday gifts, and holiday parties.

Thanks a lot to everyone who came out last Thursday night to attend the Above the Law holiday party. This year’s festivities were extremely well-attended (the bar was packed), and the entire crowd enjoyed all of the specialty drinks that were served. Thanks to our sponsors, Superior Discovery and Prestige Legal Search, for making such a great evening possible.

If you weren’t able to make it out, don’t worry — we’ve got you covered. Here are some of the pictures from a night that was full of fun and fabulosity…

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Who says lawyers and law firms are humor-impaired? A Canadian litigation firm, Paliare Roland Rosenberg Rothstein LLP, has been winning publicity and props for its clever holiday card based on the troubles of Rob Ford, the Toronto mayor who has admitted to smoking crack.

This reminded us: it’s time for Above the Law’s fifth annual holiday card contest! This favorite feature is fun for the whole family, and it’s perfectly legal too.

We are a legal website, so of course there are rules. Read carefully; failure to follow them to the letter will result in disqualification. Here they are:

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The Beresford (at right)

Seven years ago this month, M&A lawyer Gregory Ostling was elected to the partnership of Wachtell Lipton, effective January 2007. In our story about the news, we referred to Wachtell as “obscenely profitable and dazzlingly prestigious.”

Wachtell routinely tops the Am Law 100 rankings in profits per partner and the Vault rankings of law firm prestige. In 2011, according to the American Lawyer, WLRK enoyed PPP of $4.975 million.

Because the firm has a single-tier partnership and is fairly lockstep (with just a handful of senior partners off the lockstep), even junior partners at Wachtell do very well for themselves. So maybe it shouldn’t be surprising that a relatively young partner like Greg Ostling just bought not one but two multimillion-dollar apartments at the Beresford — one acquired from a famous athlete, and one from an heiress — which presumably he’s going to combine into a single fabulosity-oozing residence….

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Earlier this week, Above the Law hosted its first-ever Fashion Law Forum in Los Angeles at the W Hollywood. Despite the traffic on the 405, the event was very well-attended, and we nearly had a full house in the audience. Everyone was dressed to the nines, and we couldn’t have been happier with how this elegant soiree turned out.

The highlight of the evening was a lively discussion, moderated by ATL’s Staci Zaretsky, about all of the ins and outs of fashion law. Panelists included Staci Riordan, Chair of the Fox Rothschild Fashion Law Practice Group; Jane Shay Wald, Chair of Irell & Manella’s Trademark Practice Group; Deborah Greaves, Secretary and General Counsel of True Religion Brand Jeans; and Erica Alterwitz, Assistant General Counsel of BCBG Max Azria Group Inc.

If you’re interested in becoming a fashion attorney, here are three takeaways from our esteemed panelists that you can use to get a better understanding of the industry before you dive in…

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Justice Clarence Thomas in conversation with Judge Diane Sykes.

Over the past few years, some amazing speakers have appeared at the Thursday evening dinner of the Federalist Society’s National Lawyers Convention. Last year, Justice Samuel A. Alito offered a very funny look back at his time at Yale Law School. In 2010, Justice Antonin Scalia engaged in a spirited and wide-ranging conversation with legal journalist Jan Crawford.

Last night’s event will be tough to top. Justice Clarence Thomas, speaking with Judge Diane Sykes of the Seventh Circuit, delivered remarks that were “equal parts hysterical, poignant and inspiring,” as Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willett noted on Twitter.

I was lucky enough to attend, seated just one table away from the stage. Here’s my account of the evening (plus a few photos)….

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Partnership at Cravath: Biglaw’s ultimate brass ring.

Working at Cravath, Swaine & Moore offers many advantages. The work is interesting and cutting-edge. The exit opportunities are unmatched. The pay and prestige are great (even though, as we’ve repeatedly emphasized, Biglaw isn’t all about the benjamins).

One of the distinctive features of Cravath is the “Cravath system,” in which associates work closely with a particular partner (or small group of partners) before rotating into another area to work with a different partner. This system produces well-rounded and well-trained lawyers. According to the results of our associate survey — please take it if you haven’t already done so — Cravath is the #1 firm for training corporate lawyers and the #2 firm for training litigators.

Of course, Cravath has its downsides; the firm is not for everyone. The hours are long, even by Biglaw standards. The atmosphere is intense; it’s not a laid-back sort of place. And historically partnership prospects haven’t been great, due to the sheer selectivity of the CSM partnership.

But are partnership prospects improving? For the third year in a row, Cravath has named a large number of new partners. How many of them are there? Might you know some of them?

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Supreme Court clerks are some of the brightest young legal minds in the country. But their talents don’t come cheap. Every year, Biglaw firms fall all over each other trying to woo outgoing SCOTUS clerks, showering them with six-figure signing bonuses (on top of robust base salaries and year-end bonuses, of course).

The going rate in terms of Supreme Court clerkship bonuses is a cool $300,000. Which top law firm just dropped $1.8 million in signing bonuses for a half-dozen SCOTUS clerks?

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Is it acceptable to say a friendly hello to a Supreme Court justice if you see one of the nine out in public? That’s the question posed in a recent Dear Prudence column. As a federal judicial stalker an Article III groupie myself, I say yes. Because who knows? The justice might give you an autograph (and some free wine).

But some people don’t need to chase after Supreme Court justices. Some people will get to work closely with the members of the high court as law clerks, crafting the opinions that will rule us all.

Thanks to everyone who responded to our recent request for SCOTUS clerk hiring news for October Term 2014. Let’s look at the updated list of clerks hired so far….

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