Latham & Watkins

It’s that time of the year again: American Lawyer magazine has just released its A-List for 2011. The Am Law rankings attempt to evaluate which law firms have got the right stuff to become elite:

The A-List was created in 2003 in an effort to assess (and rank) the nation’s largest and most prominent law firms in a holistic way. It takes into account financial performance, which is represented by the inclusion of firms’ revenue per lawyer, and other important measures of law firm performance, such as attorney diversity, pro bono work, and associate satisfaction. The latter is measured by a firm’s results on our Associates Survey. Pro bono and diversity scores are also a reflection of a firm’s showing on our annual Pro Bono Survey and Diversity Scorecard.

So, which firms made the grade this year? And which firms are the true elite of the elite?

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Big news out of Washington today: Bob Bauer is stepping down as White House counsel. He’s returning to his former firm, Perkins Coie, where he will represent Barack Obama as his personal lawyer and serve as general counsel to President Obama’s re-election campaign. Bauer is being replaced by his top deputy, leading litigatrix Kathryn Ruemmler.

Kathy Ruemmler is no stranger to these pages. She’s famous for her role as a lead prosecutrix in the Enron fraud case — and for her fabulous footwear.

Let’s learn more about Ruemmler’s shoes — are they peep-toes? — and review her impressive résumé….

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Ed. note: This is the latest installment of Size Matters, one of Above the Law’s new columns for small-firm lawyers.

Like everyone, I enjoy me a Bush’s Baked Beans commercial. Jay and Duke’s witty banter over the secret family recipe highlights the joy of working with family. Unfortunately, not many of us can work with their talking family dog. (I mean, who else is there, besides Scooby Doo and Jake?)

Luckily, some can work with their two-legged family members. Working with family has been a key to the success of Melendres, Melendres & Harrigan P.C. Four of the five attorneys of this firm are related either by blood, through marriage, or through friendship. Paul Melendres and his wife Paige founded the firm in 2005 after leaving Biglaw in New York City to set up shop in Albuquerque, New Mexico. A year ago, Paul’s brother, Fred, and friend, Ryan Harrigan, left Biglaw to open the San Diego, California office.

Find out more about the firm, after the jump….

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On Tuesday night, we gently tweaked a number of leading law firms, including Latham & Watkins, about their conspicuous silence on spring bonuses. This morning, in a post about Latham’s new Boston office, we reiterated the spring bonus tweaking.

Well, it seems that Latham got the message. The firm just announced spring bonuses, on the top-of-the-line Cravath scale.

What else do we know about the Latham spring bonuses? And which dominoes might fall next after Latham?

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It’s about time. We’ve been writing about the new Boston office of Latham & Watkins for weeks now (here and here), revealing a number of their top lateral hires.

On Wednesday, Latham made its official announcement — and confirmed the accuracy of our prior reporting. All of the partners we previously named as Latham-bound, taken from such top firms as WilmerHale, Proskauer Rose, and Bingham McCutchen, are mentioned.

Let’s take a closer look at the L&W crew, and also learn about additional attorneys who are joining up (including associates)….

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Spring bonus stragglers: tick-tock, yo.

I’ve been trying to be nice. I’ve been trying to be positive. I’ve been trying to adopt a new, sunny, smoke-free attitude that assumes certain top firms will do the right thing by their associates and announce spring bonuses along the lines of Cravath, Sullivan & Cromwell, and a bunch of other top-tier firms.

Just last week, we reminded firms that it’s not too late to announce “spring” bonuses. Dewey & LeBoeuf announced spring bonuses that it will pay in the summer. And that’s okay, nobody is really complaining, associates just want their money. If top firms are paying out spring bonuses, associates who have been told they are working at a top firm want to see their cut.

But there are a number of firms that haven’t gotten the message. Did they think their own people wouldn’t notice that they are getting shortchanged compared to the market? Is this a way for those firms to force some attrition? Surprisingly, some of the firms that are being cheap with spring bonuses were lauded for being generous around Christmastime.

Those firms know how the internet works, don’t they? Information can be updated around these parts….

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On Tuesday we told you that McGuireWoods, Dewey & LeBoeuf, and Weil Gosthal were all contributing to the relief efforts under way in Japan. The response has been pretty great.

While some people seem to think Japan’s status as a rich nation means it doesn’t need any international aid, I don’t see how the country’s long-term ability to recover has anything to do with the immediate humanitarian crisis. Japan will undoubtedly be able to rebuild in the future, but its citizens need food and water today.

We’ve now received word that even more Biglaw firms are pitching in to do what they can. If you know of additional firms supporting relief efforts that we have not mentioned, please tell us in the comments to this post….

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Last week we reported on global megafirm Latham & Watkins heading into the Boston legal market. The firm will officially announce the opening of its Beantown outpost later this month.

We mentioned that Latham snagged Alex Temel, a prominent partner from Proskauer, to help start up LW’s Boston office. Now we’re hearing additional reports about attorneys who will be joining Latham in Boston, as well as the location of the office….

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No, wrong Boston Market.

The global megafirm of Latham & Watkins is in full expansion mode. The firm recently picked up a trio of real estate partners from Kirkland & Ellis in Chicago, for example.

And even though it’s not yet listed on the firm website, we understand that LW has quietly opened a Boston office. The official announcement will be made later this month, according to the Boston Business Journal.

This news shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. Latham loves geographic reach, and it has been mulling over a Beantown presence since late 2007, as noted by Am Law Daily.

Tipsters tell us that Latham has already been scooping up talent from different firms around town. We have at least one name that we don’t believe has been publicly announced yet….

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* Marc Randazza wants to feed the members of the Westboro Baptist Church into a wood chipper, but he respects their First Amendment rights; accordingly, “the Westboro Baptist Church is the first entity to receive both the First Amendment Bad Ass award and the Asshat award in a single blog post.” [The Legal Satyricon]

* Everyone’s talking about the Westboro Baptist Church case, but don’t overlook Chief Justice Roberts’s hilarious opinion in FCC v. AT&T, rejecting a corporation’s claim of privacy rights under FOIA (contrary to the alarmist predictions of certain overwrought, Citizens United-obsessed liberals). [Slate]

* Speaking of noteworthy cases, check out the latest precedent of Zoopreme Court: Justice Under Paws. [Zoopreme Court]

* New New Hampshire motto: Leave my junk free or die. [Huffington Post]

* Musical chairs: three real-estate partners leave Kirkland & Ellis in Chicago for Latham & Watkins. Speaking of these firms, will either pay spring bonuses? [Chicago Tribune]

* Meanwhile, on the South Side, UofC Law is encouraging young black high schoolers to go to law school. If B (# of black students) < P (Posner) + L (Liberals), then you've got to do some outreach. [University of Chicago Law School]

* If you enjoyed our recent post about Chief Judge Kozinski’s taste in movies, you can check out all of his mini-reviews over here. [IMDb]

* Some reflections by Jane Genova on politics, law firms, and the power game. [Law and More]

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