* The D.C. Circuit just spanked the FCC and its net neutrality rules for the second time in a row, but at least the court was polite enough to give the agency a reach-around by saying that it had authority to govern broadband providers. [National Law Journal]
* Current and former judges of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court wrote a strongly worded letter in opposition to Obama’s proposed surveillance reforms. Apparently they don’t want their secret workload to increase. [Washington Post]
* Oooooooklahoma, where gay marriage comes sweepin’ down the plain! A federal judge ruled that the Sooner state’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, issuing a stay pending the obvious appeal to come. [BuzzFeed]
* California can prevent LSAC from notifying law schools when prospective law students were given extra time on the LSAT. LSAC values its ability to discriminate, so expect an appeal. [San Francisco Chronicle]
* Yo, Kanye West, I’m really happy for you, I’ma let you finish… I’m sorry, but Coinye had one of the best bitcoins of all time. ONE OF THE BEST BITCOINS OF ALL TIME. [MoneyBeat / Wall Street Journal]
When you read about a multibillion-dollar, highly contested corporate takeover, there’s a decent chance that Wachtell Lipton is involved. The firm, which routinely tops the American Lawyer’s profits per partner rankings and Vault’s prestige rankings, is known for its expertise in mergers and acquisitions.
Charter Communications’ unsolicited $61 billion bid for Time Warner Cable? Yup, Wachtell is on the scene, representing Charter (with help from Kirkland & Ellis). If a deal goes through, count on an eight-figure fee for Wachtell.
And some of that lucre will trickle down to associates. Wachtell Lipton is known for gigantic bonuses, which can match (or even occasionally exceed) an associate’s base salary. And it pays out bonuses in lockstep fashion, without regard to hours (unlike, say, Boies Schiller, another firm famous for its generous bonuses).
How were Wachtell bonuses in 2013? Inquiring minds want to know. Alas, we don’t have the 2013 info (yet) — but here’s what we’ve heard about 2011 and 2012….
One of the most noteworthy deals of the new year is Google’s recently announced $3.2 billion acquisition of Nest Labs, a maker of Internet-connected devices like thermostats and smoke alarms that was founded by former Apple engineers. Orrick, a firm known for its strong roster of tech clients, is advising Nest. The Orrick team is led by the firm’s chairman, Mitchell Zuklie.
That’s not the only noteworthy news out of Orrick this week. Yesterday the firm announced its 2013 associate bonuses. How are they looking?
Good news: According to the Citi Private Bank Law Firm Group (and its partner, the Hildebrandt Institute), firms are looking at nice, steady profit growth in the coming year. It’s not super, but who can be choosy in the current market? And partially driving this growth is an expected uptick in demand, so that’s good.
Bad news: While the media latched on to the favorable demand projection, the report expects firms to be more profitable because they are finally taking Citi’s advice on how to become more profitable — and that doesn’t bode well for rank-and-file attorneys.
There are only so many ways that we can tell our readers that the Biglaw boom years are over. Slow firm growth in terms of attorney headcount is now praised. Law firm mergers are common occurrences, if only because there’s always someone to save from a fate suffered like that of Dewey and the failed firms of yesteryear — Brobeck, Coudert, Heller, Thelen, and Howrey. Alternative fee arrangements are trending, and discounts are handed out as if clients are enrolled in fast-food loyalty programs (buy one multi-million dollar patent suit, get the next one 75 percent off!).
But just because the heyday is over does not mean that Biglaw’s all-stars are going to charge their clients any less cash. Back in the day, $1,000 per hour billing rates were considered obscene by some. Now, even in a still recovering economy, four-figure billing rates are just business as usual. In fact, some partners are edging closer and closer to a $2,000 per hour fee every day.
So which firms have the highest partner billing rates? Let’s find out…
* While we’re celebrating recently anointed Biglaw partner classes, let’s take a minute to call out the firms that haven’t bestowed the honor upon a single woman this year. Cheers, jerks. [Am Law Daily]
* The results of the NLJ’s Law Firm Billing Survey are out, and lo and behold, one of the top partners in the country is pushing $2,000 an hour for his services. Congrats, Ted! [National Law Journal (sub. req.)]
* Everyone’s buzzing about the federal law clerk who’s been accused of attempted aggravated rape and solicitation of a minor under 13. Don’t let that legendary 4.0 GPA go to waste. [Times-Picayune]
* Iowa is thinking about allowing law grads to practice ASAP instead of having to pass a bar exam. Paired with its recent tuition cuts, the Hawkeye State is looking better and better. [Des Moines Register]
* If you’re in the unfortunate situation of still having to look for a law job once OCI has ended, then you might want to start considering applying for some of the other law jobs that don’t want you. [Mashable]
I was sitting in my office yesterday afternoon when my phone dinged. It was one of my law partners. He had sent me a picture of our other partner standing in front of an auditorium with about seventy-five people in it. They had gone to one of the local law schools here to speak about dealing with clients. Like many other law schools, this law school is focusing on providing their students some manner of real-world experiential education in the elusive hopes of making students “practice-ready.” An impossible task, but at least students are exposed to practicing lawyers, even if just for a day. I mean, it’s better than a seminar on Harry Potter and the Law.
After speaking for a bit, they took questions from the students. Eventually, someone asked what to do about a difficult client. The response?
“Double the retainer.”
After the crowd chuckled, he added: “In all seriousness, double the retainer.”
* The Supreme Court has been “surprising[ly] silent” when it comes to how to apply Obamacare’s contraception mandate to religious non-profits. We imagine at least one justice will raise hell about it during their first judicial conference of 2014. [Los Angeles Times]
* Contrary to what was apparently popular belief by some, Justice Sonia Sotomayor doesn’t wear dentures. She was very candid about her oral hygiene at a recent speaking event — her teeth are so great because she’s had a lot of work done on them. [Washington Post]
* In your face, Cravath! James Woolery is movin’ on up to officially taking the rein at Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft. Fun fact: Chuck Woolery of “Love Connection” is his distant cousin. [Am Law Daily]
* The U.S. Attorney’s office Chris Christie used to be in charge of will investigate Bridgegate. Word on the street is that the governor had just finished reading War and Peace when he heard the news. [Bloomberg]
* Sumner Redstone donated $10 million to Harvard Law School so that its graduates can pursue public interest careers — because otherwise they’d be too poor to “build a better world.” [National Law Journal]
It may be 2014, but Biglaw firms are still rolling out their 2013 year-end bonuses. While some firms are busy cutting supplemental checks for their associates, others are just getting around to making their first round of payments.
If you have any bonus news that we haven’t covered, even announcements dating back to last year, please email us or text us (646-820-8477). We’re trying to keep as accurate a record as we can of Biglaw bonuses that were announced in 2013, but we can’t do it without your help.
As for today’s bonus news, we’ve just received word that Kasowitz Benson unveiled its bonus structure yesterday afternoon. This is standard fare for the litigation powerhouse, which typically announces during the first full week of the new year. So what’s the good word on 2013′s bonuses? Did associates get more money if their legal minds were superior to all others?
Leigh Dollard: Hmm, apply to law school or pay my bills?
Have you heard of Tips for Jesus? Since September 2013, this incredibly rich mystery man — rumored to be Jack Selby, formerly of PayPal — has been traveling the country, dropping insane tips of up to $10,000 wherever he wines and dines. He’s “[d]oing the Lord’s work, one tip at a time,” and he’s documented this journey of generosity by taking pictures of his checks and uploading them to his Instagram account. He hasn’t explicitly stated why Jesus is involved, but who cares, it’s free money. This man knows the service industry can be thankless, so he’s giving back in the best way he knows how.
The cash that Tips for Jesus has laid out has been completely life-changing for some of its recipients. One of the latest beneficiaries of his kindness was a cocktail waitress in California who received a $5,000 tip this past weekend. What’s she planning to do with the money?
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: [email protected].
Since late last year, things have been booming in Hong Kong / China in cap markets, especially Hong Kong IPOs. M&A deal flow has recently been getting a bit stronger as well. Although one can’t predict such things with any certainty, all signs are pointing to a banner entire 2014 for the top end US corporate and cap markets practices in Hong Kong / China. This is not really new news, as its been the feeling most in the market have had for a few months now and things continue to look good.
The head of our Asia practice, Evan Jowers, has been in Hong Kong for about 10 days a month (with trips every other month to both Shanghai and Bejing) for the past 7 months (Robert Kinney and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong again March 15 to 23), and spending most of his time there meeting with senior US hiring partners at just about all the major US and UK firms there, as well as prospective candidates at all associate levels and partner levels, and when in the US, Evan works Asia hours and is regularly on the phone with such persons, as our the other members of our Asia team. Our Yuliya Vinokurova is in Hong Kong every other month and Robert is there about 5 times a year as well. While we have a solid Asia team of recruiters, Evan Jowers will spend at least some time with all of our candidates for Asia position. We have had long standing relationships, and good friendships in some cases, with hiring partners and other senior US partners in Asia for 8 years now.
Are you challenged by the costs and logistics of maintaining your office, distracting you from the practice of law?
Many small firms are successfully moving part—or even all—of their practice to a virtual setting. This even includes multi-jurisdictional practice spanning several states and practice areas, although solo and small partnerships are still the largest adopters of virtual law.
Can you do the same? The new article Mobile in Practice, Virtual by Design from author Jared Correia, Esq., explores how mobile technology bring real-life benefits to a small law firm. Read this new article—the next in Thomson Reuters’ Independent Thinking series for small firms—to explore how a mobile practice:
Everyone is talking about the importance of Social Media in Corporate America. But it is relatively safe to say that most law firms and lawyers are slightly behind the social curve. Most lawyers, at minimum, use LinkedIn, for networking. Some even use Twitter for pushing out short, pithy content, while many have Blogs, where they write their little hearts out. The adage “it is better to give than to receive” is not always true though in the world of Social. In the Social World – it is best to listen, give back and engage.
Social Media is a communications tool that can deeply educate you about the needs and wants of your clients and prospects when used in conjunction social media monitoring and sharing tools.
Take this quick quiz and see if you know how to use Social to help you engage more with your clients or to better service the ones you have.