Government Shutdown

A couple of weeks ago, as Obamacare was just stumbling out of the gate, we asked our readers to tell us about the state of their own health insurance plans through their firms. Since the Recession, we have heard anecdotal evidence that some firms have been using health care cost clawbacks as a stealth expense-cutting tactic and de facto pay cut. We wondered how widespread a phenomenon this practice had become. Well, perhaps that’s a bit disingenuous. We had a strong feeling that, in this time of layoffs and all the rest of the Biglaw belt-tightening measures, that no category of expenses would be immune. And our survey results resoundingly confirm those suspicions: 89% of you tell us that your health insurance premiums have gone up since you started work at your firm.

A relevant tip showed up in the ATL inbox this week. An attorney at a prominent (V25) law firm sent us a memo outlining new changes to the firm’s health plan. Here’s an excerpt: “The deductible for the CIGNA PPO plan will change from $250 single/$750 family to $500 single/$1,000 family. Also, the PPO prescription copays [will all increase]. These changes bring our PPO plan design in line with market
practice for large law firms
(emphasis added)”…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Biglaw Health Insurance Costs: The ATL Survey Results”

* Harry Belafonte is suing MLK’s kids to establish ownership of a few documents. Why won’t the King kids jump in de line? [CNN]

* Bad news for Charleston Law: South Carolina has decided to pass on taking over the school. To InfiLaw and Beyond! [The State]

* Sometimes advertising creates some strange bedfellows. This story brought to you by the U.S. News rankings. [PrawfsBlawg]

* School sends in a fake masked gunman to scare kids as part of a lesson. This will end well. [Jezebel]

* Maryland’s Attorney General is a terrible backseat driver. Do with that information what you will. [Lowering the Bar]

* Sullivan & Cromwell is bringing in Jeffrey Wall, an assistant to the Solicitor General, to be co-head of its appellate practice. [Blog of the Legal Times]

* Some advice that you wish someone imparted back in the day. [Legal Cheek]

* The government shutdown wasn’t as much about tearing down government as it was about creating a paradoxical dictatorship of freedom. Time to brush up on your Carl Schmitt, y’all. [Concurring Opinions]

* The legal issues involved in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. The traffic laws governing flying cars not included. [The Legal Geeks]

* The fiscal impasse in our nation’s capital is over! The government shutdown is over! Obamaphones for everyone!!!!! [Washington Post]

* Tim Geithner was recently deposed as part of a lawsuit alleging that the government bailout of AIG was unconstitutional. Muammar Gaddafi was less recently deposed as part of a coup alleging that his female bodyguards were unconstitutionally sexy. [Fox Business]

* Berkeley Bird Beheader begins boot bivouac. [Fox5 Vegas via Las Vegas Law Blog]

* Cory Booker (Yale Law ’97) won a Senate seat last night, promptly bumping Lat from the cover of the next Yale Law alumni magazine. It was the Halloween issue — the annual Boo Haven edition. [ABC News]

* Mark Cuban was acquitted of insider trading charges yesterday. In related news, this basset hound loves fans. [CBS News]

* Brooklyn Law faces a possible debt downgrade from Standard & Poor’s. The school’s unemployed graduates, substandard and poor, have yet to weigh in. [Crain's New York Business]

* In other law school news, Chicago-Kent announces an interesting new initiative (with a Whopper of a name). [IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law (press release)]

Your Above the Law editors are making like Mr. Smith and going to Washington. This week we’re hosting not one but two excellent events in our nation’s capital (both free and open to the public):

  • On Wednesday night (tomorrow night), we’re hosting a trivia night for our law student readers. To get the details and to RSVP, please click here (and scroll down to the RSVP form). Please note that trivia participation is not required; you can simply come for the food, drink, and company (of your ATL editors and other D.C.-area law students).
  • On Thursday night, we’re hosting a reception and SCOTUS preview with noted Supreme Court advocate and analyst Tom Goldstein. To get the details and to RSVP, please click here (and scroll down to the RSVP form).

If the government shutdown is still in effect, some of you won’t have to get up early the next day, so it’s a great time for weeknight socializing. We hope to see you at one or both of these events.

(Thanks to our friends at Kaplan Bar Review for sponsoring the trivia night and Access Data for sponsoring the SCOTUS preview.)

Earlier: D.C. Is Shut Down, Seems Like A Perfect Time To Have A Party
Join ATL For A SCOTUS Preview With Tom Goldstein

Novus Law School’s epitaph?

Ed. note: In honor of Columbus Day (and Canadian Thanksgiving), Above the Law will be on a reduced publication schedule today. We will be back in full force tomorrow.

* Justice stops for no one, not even a broken Congress. With the end of days approaching quickly for federal courts in terms of funding (or the lack thereof), many judges are lashing out and declaring all their employees essential. [National Law Journal]

* Legal expenses can be especially “painful,” even for the biggest of banks, but sadist firms like Sullivan & Cromwell, Paul Weiss, and WilmerHale are really getting their rocks off on Jamie Dimon’s suffering. [DealBook / New York Times]

* DLA Piper’s future’s so bright it’s got to wear shades — and appoint a new co-managing partner in New York City, its largest office. Congratulations to Richard Hans, you’ve co-made it! [New York Law Journal]

* “It’s not just about me.” Jim Tanner, a Williams & Connolly partner who represents Jeremy Lin, is leaving the firm to start his own sports management business, and he’s taking people with him. [Bloomberg]

* “I have no apologies to make about anything I did.” Steven Donziger of Chevron/Ecuador infamy will be defending himself in court this week in what’s being called a legal cage match. [Wall Street Journal]

* “Touro is asking a judge to declare the school a diploma mill.” Irony alert: Touro wants Novus University Law School, a school supposedly conferring “worthless law degrees,” to be stopped. [New York Post]

* If you think SCOTUS abused its discretion in the early abortion cases, you’re going to love this book (affiliate link), a “cautionary tale” about consequences of decisions like Roe v. Wade. [Wall Street Journal]

Sometimes the greatest truths are revealed in the most frivolous things. At least this guy hopes so. After the Atlanta Braves[1]
lost the NLDS, he hopped on his computer and drafted a full letter to Representative Jack Kingston of Georgia complaining about the result and begging for government intervention to set things right.

I mean, can’t something be done to hijack the results of the last contest?

You see where he’s going with this. The letter carefully — and comically — exposes the insanity of the government shutdown that Kingston enthusiastically supports.

And then Kingston responded with a letter that was, um, not as clever….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “This Lawyer Writes To Congress About Baseball And Exposes The Shutdown In The Process”

* Justice Anthony Kennedy doesn’t think that law school should be shortened to two years, but he does think that the “cost factor has to be addressed.” Somebody really ought to listen to this man and give his words some credence. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* Let’s give Lady Justice a big round of applause, because the federal judiciary announced that it’s got enough cash on hand to keep things running until October 17, two whole days more than originally planned. Cherish the small things. [Blog of Legal Times]

* If Biglaw firms don’t adapt to the changing times, they may soon go the way of the dodo — or, to be a little more relevant to large law firms, they may soon go the way of the Dewey. Scary. [American Lawyer]

* Gov. Chris Christie’s administration appealed a judge’s denial of a stay on a ruling allowing gay marriages to be performed within the state. Please try to stay Jersey Strong and fabulous through this. [USA Today]

* Law review? More like flaw review, amirite? Apparently there’s a big problem with law review articles, and it’s not just that they’re incredibly boring and wind up in books that are never read. [National Law Journal]

* “There are no magic bullets here.” Caught in a “trilemma,” President Obama is up against the wall and is running out of options. He soon might be forced to choose the least unconstitutional solution to the nation’s problems. [Bloomberg]

* During the government shutdown, it certainly wouldn’t be worth it for furloughed employees to hire lawyers to fight their “essential” versus “non-essential” determinations — please, like they’ll be able to afford legal representation right now. [National Law Journal]

* It seems some partners at both Dentons and McKenna Long & Aldridge aren’t fans of a possible tie-up, so they’re heading for the hills as fast as they can. Perhaps it simply wasn’t meant to be? [Am Law Daily]

* It’s time for our favorite show, As the Weil Turns! Partners from various offices are departing for other Biglaw firms, and we can now confirm that Steven Peck is a new face at Proskauer. [Law360 (sub. req.)]

* We told you last week that Matthew Martens of Fabulous Fab fame would be leaving the SEC, but now we know where he’s landing. Congrats on your new home at WilmerHale. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* Ohio is the latest state to offer “hazy” abortion restrictions that skirt the very edge of Supreme Court jurisprudence in order to make women feel guilty about their own right to choose. [New York Times]

* “Without makeup she looks like the Joker in Batman.” Joan Rivers is locked in a $15 million condo catfight with a Canadian socialite who isn’t afraid to pull punches. Meow! [New York Daily News]

With the continuing partial government shutdown and the shaky rollout of Obamacare, the issue of health insurance has never been such a central and divisive topic in the national conversation. Surely there are thousands of unemployed or temping JDs who are entering the brave new world of insurance exchanges and its attendant “hiccups.” In a development that perhaps should alarm the lowest-paid support staffers at law firms, some corporations appear poised to drop “bare bones” health-care benefits altogether for low-wage employees in favor of directing such employees to the new state exchanges.

Of course, for the lawyers at firms, such developments concerning the exchanges are essentially an abstract issue. That is not to say that attorney benefits packages are not subject to “new normal” economic pressures, or that the ultimate effect of the Affordable Care Act on private health insurance packages is unknowable. As noted here way back in 2009, some firms have added health care cost clawbacks to their expense-cutting repertoire of layoffs and pay cuts. Many associates have found themselves, post-Recession, with higher premiums and deductibles and thus, a de facto salary cut. Comparing salaries and bonuses across law firms overlooks the element of health insurance costs, about which there is no equivalent transparency. Undoubtedly there are significant variations across firms in this area, and some firms that appear to pay “market” aren’t quite doing so in light of their requiring a larger fraction of health care premiums. These variations inevitably distort direct comparisons.

We’d like to bring some transparency to this topic — but we need your help….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Are Biglaw Health Insurance Premium Increases Really Stealth Pay Cuts?”

It is time to tell Congress to go to hell. It’s the right thing to do.

– The eminently quotable Judge Richard G. Kopf, in a blog post urging the federal courts to declare all employees “essential” to keep the judiciary running despite the crippling government shutdown.

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