H. Rodgin Cohen

* How Jamie Dimon (and Stephen Cutler and Rodge Cohen) reached JPMorgan Chase’s tentative $13 billion settlement with Eric Holder and the Department of Justice. [DealBook / New York Times; Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

* Congratulations to all the New Jersey couples who got married since midnight, in the wake of the state supreme court’s decision not to stay a lower-court ruling in favor of marriage equality. [Newark Star-Ledger]

* Additional insight into all the partner departures from Weil Gotshal in Texas. [Dallas Morning News]

* Lawyers aren’t the only folks who know how to overbill; defense contractors do too, according to federal prosecutors who allege that a company provided prostitutes and kickbacks to Navy personnel. [Washington Post via The BLT]

* The legal battle over Obamacare rages on. [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

* Judge Oing, this really isn’t that hard. Here’s a draft opinion for you in the long-running litigation between Macy’s and J.C. Penney over the right to sell Martha Stewart merchandise (by James Stewart, no relation to Martha). [New York Times]

* If you’d like to run with the bulls without schlepping to Spain, former lawyers Rob Dickens and Brad Scudder can help. Presumably their legal training helped them draft ironclad waivers. [BuzzFeed]

* Another interesting but very different event, taking place this Wednesday: “Healing the U.S. Lawsuit System.” [U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (one of our advertisers)]

HI-YA! CIVIL RIGHTS CHOP!

* Chief Justice John Roberts appointed Second Circuit Judge José A. Cabranes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review. Roberts must be happy; few will criticize a moderate. [Washington Post]

* The Department of Justice plans to hire Leslie Caldwell, Morgan Lewis partner and ex-Enron prosecutor, to fill Lanny Breuer’s shoes. Way to leak the news while she’s on vacation. [DealBook / New York Times]

* Tell us again how sequestration isn’t having an impact on the judiciary. Private federal indigent defense attorneys are going to see their already modest rates slashed due to budget cuts. [National Law Journal]

* Sixteen lawyers will receive the New York Law Journal’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and a list like this obviously wouldn’t be complete without the names of some of Biglaw’s best and brightest. Congrats, Rodge! [New York Law Journal]

* Thomas D. Raffaele, the judge who was karate chopped in the throat by a police officer last summer, is now suing over his crushed larynx and similarly squashed constitutional rights. [Courthouse News Service]

* Future gunners, unite! If you’re set on becoming a lawyer, there are things you can do to prepare your law school application, even as a college freshman. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News & World Report]

* Here’s something to aspire to for the ongoing law school lawsuits: Career Education Corp., a system of for-profit colleges, will pay $10 million to settle a dispute over its inflated job statistics. [Wall Street Journal]

* Penn State University is starting to issue settlement offers to young men who claim they were sexually abused at the hands of Jerry Sandusky, the school’s former assistant football coach. [Legal Intelligencer]

Kate Middleton

* Come on, people, Dewey really think that it’s fair that these proposed partnership clawback settlements blame only us for the firm’s implosion? The Steves and ex-CFO Joel Sanders don’t think so. [Bloomberg]

* “[E]ven if partners’ capital contributions were used to repay Dewey’s indebtedness—so what?” Well, that’s certainly one way to defend a suit alleging Citibank’s participation in a Ponzi-like scheme. [Am Law Daily]

* A $280K bonus sure seems nice, but do all Supreme Court clerks choose life in Biglaw once they’ve completed their stints at the high court? As it turns out, the answer is no — some view the money as “golden handcuffs.” [Wall Street Journal]

* Because nobody can ogle these crown jewels except Prince William: the royals’ potential suit against Closer magazine over topless pics of Kate Middleton has turned into full-blown privacy proceeding. [New York Times]

* If you’re struggling in law school, it may be wise to take some advice from those who’ve been there before you, like SullCrom’s Rodge Cohen, or the Ninth Circuit’s Chief Judge Alex Kozinski. [National Law Journal]

Today brings additional intelligence about spring bonuses at Sullivan & Cromwell (on the heels of yesterday’s report). This information has broad relevance within Biglaw because it’s clear that spring bonuses won’t happen on a large scale unless S&C moves. Four managing partners have already made clear to Am Law Daily that they won’t pay out unless they’re forced to do so. Any such forcing would presumably be done by S&C, which was the first mover behind last year’s spring bonus trend.

From the perspective of associates, there’s good news coming out of S&C, and there’s bad news. Which do you want to hear first?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Sullivan & Cromwell Will Pay Spring Bonuses — But Will They Be Too Small To Be Worth Matching?”

H. Rodgin Cohen

Yesterday I got to chat with H. Rodgin Cohen, one of the nation’s leading corporate lawyers. Cohen has been accurately described by the New York Times as “the dean of Wall Street lawyers” as well as the “trauma surgeon of Wall Street” (for his heroic work rescuing the nation’s financial system during the 2008 financial crisis).

When he’s not working on bank mega-mergers, Cohen plays a major role in running the venerable firm of Sullivan & Cromwell, where he has spent his entire legal career (except for two years as an Army lawyer). He served as chairman of the firm from 2000 until 2010, when he passed his crown to Joseph Shenker, but Cohen continues to serve in the role of “senior chairman.”

So of course I asked Rodge Cohen about a very hot topic: spring bonuses. What did he have to say?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “An Oracular Utterance from Sullivan & Cromwell on Spring Bonuses”

Be careful about what you say in the airport, or on a crowded train, or on the subway. Above the Law’s spies are everywhere.

And be careful about what you place in the trash. Law firms have paper shredders for a reason; use them. Consider this your practice pointer for the day.

Earlier this month, an ATL reader sent us a collection of documents relating to Sullivan & Cromwell’s on-campus interviewing program at the University of Michigan Law School. For the record, our tipster didn’t have to go dumpster diving for this find. The documents were contained in a black binder that was conveniently placed on top of an outdoor recycling bin, where it caught our reader’s eye. (As we all know from California v. Greenwood, you have no reasonable expectation of privacy in stuff you leave in the trash.)

So, what was in these documents? The contents will be of interest to partners and associates at other firms, as well as law students going through the OCI process right now….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “An Inside Look at Sullivan & Cromwell’s Recruiting Process”

Today, the National Law Journal lets us in on an ambitious project. The publication has tried to identify the 40 most influential lawyers of the decade. The 40 people they came up with are relatively well known to the general Above the Law readership, but they won’t be household names to your lay-friends:

The list spans law firms, academia, government and advocacy groups, but, consciously subtracts a few obvious categories: Members of the Supreme Court and attorneys general, for instance, are generally influential by definition, and they are not included here.

The NLJ was looking for lawyers that don’t get their name in the mainstream media every day:

Instead, we have focused upon lawyers in the following specific practices: antitrust; appellate; bankruptcy; civil rights; corporate; energy and environmental; in-house; intellectual property; labor and employment; legal education; litigation; and regulatory. In other words, we’re primarily focusing on hard-working lawyers who’ve been in the trenches on big deals or major litigation or who have been pioneering at in-house positions or the nation’s law schools.

So, who made the cut?

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The cocaine analogy is quite a good one. Because this stuff was addictive. A lot of people couldn’t resist.


H. Rodgin Cohen — former chairman of Sullivan & Cromwell, and counsel to many of the nation’s biggest banks — discussing subprime mortgage debt.

Lawyer of the Year 2009 AboveTheLaw blog Above the Law ATL.jpgThanks to everyone who submitted possible nominees for our Lawyer of the Year award. We reviewed your 160+ comments and developed a slate of ten worthy candidates.

Before we reveal them, we’ll talk about a few folks we passed over. A number of you suggested Mike Leach, the lawyer turned football coach who was recently fired by Texas Tech University. Although Leach’s achievements on the gridiron are considerable, he’s more of a football figure than a legal figure, so he didn’t make the team.

A few of the lawyers you suggested, while certainly well-known, really belong to years prior to 2009. These include former New York governor and Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, who resigned in disgrace after his dalliances with prostitutes came to light; former administrative law judge Roy Pearson, of the infamous $54 million (originally $67 million) pants lawsuit; and prominent IP litigator Jeremy Pitcock.

Also named: Kathy Henry, a former Legal Secretary of the Day, whose alleged oversight could have cost PepsiCo a pretty penny — over a billion dollars (until the default judgment was vacated). But since she’s a legal secretary rather than a lawyer (or even a law student), we passed her over.

So who made the cut? Check out the nominees and vote for your favorite, after the jump.

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H Rodgin Cohen Henry Rodgin Cohen Rodge Cohen Sullivan Cromwell chairman.jpgThat’s the most shocking revelation in an interesting New York Times profile of H. Rodgin Cohen, the nation’s top banking M&A lawyer and chairman of the venerable Sullivan & Cromwell. From the NYT:

After [Cohen and his wife Barbara] had paid their [restaurant] check, they went to fetch the car, and Mr. Cohen, a Boston fan since his days at Harvard Law, glanced down at his BlackBerry to check on the Red Sox. He drives a Subaru, a humble ride for a man who earned millions last year arranging shotgun weddings for the busted firms of Wall Street, and standing next to Barbara in the darkness, Rodge Cohen, a titan of the banking bar, struggled with his automated key, initially unable to — woop woop woop — release the lock.

Unlocking car doors by remote control — where’s a good associate when you need one?

Now, in re Subarus, we have nothing against them; they are fine cars. Some of our best friends drive Subarus. One of our co-clerks — a member of the Elect, no less — drives a Subaru Forester. The judge for whom we clerked — Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain (9th Cir.), a top feeder judge — used to drive a purple Subaru (affectionately nicknamed “Grimace” by his clerks).

But as we know from the judicial pay controversy, federal judges don’t get compensated like partners at Sullivan & Cromwell. And Cohen is no ordinary S&C partner — he’s the chairman of the firm and its top rainmaker, generating tens of millions in business every year. A Subaru is shockingly downmarket for him. We realize that true wealth doesn’t have to advertise itself, and six-figure cars are for the nouveau riche, but this still seems a tad extreme.

More to the point, why is Rodge Cohen even driving himself? Wouldn’t it be more efficient for him to have a chauffeur-driven Maybach — john quinn, holla — so he can spend every waking minute on the phone, negotiating billion-dollar bank mergers? Isn’t it a waste of the brilliant Cohen’s brain cells to have him paying attention to yield signs when he could instead be thinking about yield curves?

More tidbits from the Rodge Cohen profile, along with commentary, after the jump.

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