Hogan & Hartson

Earlier this year, partner bonuses at Hogan Lovells generated some controversy across the pond. Certain partners in London questioned the process by which payments were determined and wondered whether partners in management received too much relative to rank-and-file partners. Squabbles over partner pay are something the firm’s incoming CEO, D.C.-based Stephen Immelt, can look forward to addressing when he takes over next summer.

Let’s now turn from partner pay in London to associate pay in New York. The NYC office of Ho-Love recently showed its associates some love, in the form of year-end bonuses. Were they as controversial as the London partner payouts?

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Opening a legal bill from DLA Piper?

Here at Above the Law, we ❤ DLA Piper. The firm makes for great copy; there’s always something funny, ridiculous, or salacious going down over there.

In fairness to DLA Piper, the craziness might not be that high on a per capita basis. DLA Piper is one of the largest law firms in the world. In the most recent Global 100 rankings, DLA took second place in both total revenue and attorney headcount.

Many of the DLA Piper stories are on the lighter side. But this latest one — involving serious allegations of overbilling, apparently supported by internal DLA emails saying things like “churn that bill, baby!” — is no laughing matter….

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The last time we covered the lavish signing bonuses for Supreme Court clerks who head to law firms after their time at the Court, the bonuses were flirting with $280,000. We say “flirting with” because, at the time, only certain firms were offering $280K. That princely sum was not yet the market rate for talent emerging from One First Street.

A little over a year later, we can report some change on this front. Even though regular associate bonuses and partner profits might be flat this year, the price for Supreme Court clerks is going up, up, up….

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Yesterday Elie offered some predictions for 2012. I’ll get even more specific and offer a prediction for January 2012: energy lawyers will be making moves this month.

January is generally a popular time for partner moves, and energy lawyers are popular people. Right now their practice area is as hot as New York City is cold. As you may recall, this time last year a slew of energy attorneys moved from McDermott to Cadwalader.

We’ve recently received word that at least two prominent partners in the energy space are switching firms. Let’s find out who they are and where they are heading….

UPDATE (2:30 PM): After the jump, we’ve added an update with additional context, details, and partner names. A source states that five partners are leaving and that the departures constitute a major move — a much bigger deal than our original report might have suggested.

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In our recent post on the top 10 most generous large law firms — based on analysis by ATL’s new director of research, Brian Dalton — the firm of Hogan Lovells placed second. Under the rankings, this meant that Hogan partners are taking the second-biggest hit to their own bottom lines in order to keep their associates happy and well-compensated.

But is this still the case today? Based on what we’re hearing about the most recent Hogan bonuses, announced shortly before Christmas, one wonders whether the Ho-Love partners have turned from Santas into Scrooges….

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He was clearly the salesman-in-chief, and he did a darn good job at it. I remember being told that despite the fact that the economy was essentially collapsing around everyone’s heads, 2008 was going to come in well over budget with record revenues and profits.

Andrew Ness, former managing partner of the D.C. office of Thelen LLP, commenting to Washingtonian magazine about former Howrey chairman Robert Ruyak, the poetry-writing power lawyer who lured Ness and his Thelen colleagues over to Howrey.
(Ness is now a Jones Day partner.)

(Additional excerpts from and discussion of Marisa Kashino’s interesting article, A Tale of Two Law Firms: Hogan & Hartson and Howrey, after the jump.)

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Neal Katyal

* “Dominique Strauss-Kahn Gets Off, As Did Everyone Else Who Stayed In His Room At The Sofitel.” Or: what you don’t want to know about your high-end hotel room. [Dealbreaker]

* F**k yeah — trademark law! Or: some reflections on the “immoral or scandalous” bar to trademark registration, by fashion lawyer Chuck Colman. [Law of Fashion]

* The New Jersey Supreme Court just issued a major new decision calling for changes in the way that courts handle eyewitness identifications — an issue that will also be going before SCOTUS in the coming Term. [The Innocence Project]

* Congratulations to Professor Neal Katyal, former acting U.S. solicitor general, who’s apparently headed to Hogan Lovells. [Am Law Daily]

* Professor Orin Kerr is not impressed by how Dean Linda Ammons has handled the controversy over Professor Larry Connell. [Volokh Conspiracy via Instapundit]

* They have lots of lawyers over at the IRS (former workplace of Michele Bachmann). Do you really expect them to be good at math? [Going Concern]

* Does signing a bill into law with an autopen present constitutional problems? Professor Terry Turnipseed explains how it might. [Slate]

* Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain thinks that President Obama’s decision not to defend DOMA constitutes an “impeachable defense.” [Poliglot / Metro Weekly]

Every day that major law firms do not announce spring bonuses makes them look like below-market, “non-peer” institutions. It has become very clear that firms claiming to pay market compensation need to be providing spring bonuses.

The latest firm to yield to market realities is Hogan Lovells. The relatively new Ho-Love, formed by the merger of Hogan & Hartson and Lovells, showed love to its hos on Friday. The firm matched the Cravath scale for spring bonuses.

You can read the full memo below. But you should also listen to how surprised and happy Ho-Love associates are about the bonuses. Hogan associates are like bizzaro Sidley associates….

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Last week, Hogan Lovells announced its associate bonuses. It’s the first bonus season for the firm since the merger of Hogan & Hartson and Lovells. Unfortunately for some associates, the transatlantic deal apparently did not pay off for them at bonus time.

The memos are individualized, but the associates who have reached out to Above the Law are not happy. Here’s one tipster’s report:

Most people with whom I’ve spoken received $2500-$5000 less than the Cravath-model for billing around 2150 (our hours requirement is 1950). This is true no matter the class year.

A number of associates left the office as soon as the memos came out because they were so disgusted. I predict a mass exodus of associates leaving HoLove this coming year, because a lot of people have been pissed about the hours anyway and these bonuses are just insulting.

But according to a Hogan Lovells spokesperson, the HoLove bonuses matched the market. So why are associates upset?

(Please note that we’ve added some UPDATES after the jump.)

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The prior reports of additional payments to some associates at Hogan Lovells, designed to reward these associates for making their billable-hours targets, were accurate — at least with respect to the New York office. And it turns out that these payments constitute what in ATL-speak we call “true-up payments” — i.e., payments designed to give associates the pay they would have received had a salary freeze never occurred and they had received the customary annual raise for seniority.

This may sound confusing, but it’s really not. Let’s take a look at the memo from Hogan Lovells….

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