Money

Romney shows what he thinks the ideal effective tax rate should be for people who have good hair.

If you are a wealthy American who pays the top regular income tax rate of 35%, you have terrible, awful lawyers.

Mitt Romney does not have terrible lawyers.

The news of the day is that GOP frontrunner Romney released the previous two years of his tax returns. Romney’s 2010 adjusted gross income was $21,661,344. His estimated AGI for 2011 is $20,901,075. If all of that income was taxed at the highest tax rate, Romney would be paying around $7 million in federal taxes. But only true idiots and Republicans trying to scare people in election years actually believe that wealthy people pay anything approaching a 35% income tax in this country. Instead, Romney’s effective tax rate was about 14% in 2010 and is estimated to be around 15% in 2011. My effective tax rate was higher than Mitt Romney’s in 2010, and I don’t even get to like firing people.

But Romney is trying to spin his tax returns as an example of how “complicated” that tax code is. And the mainstream media is overwhelmed and helping to push that line. But these taxes are not complicated for a tax lawyer — and when you make $20 million a year, you can afford some good ones, so doing your taxes is about as complicated as writing a check for legal fees…

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Well, spring bonuses are officially late. Last year, Sullivan & Cromwell announced spring bonuses on January 21. Here we are on January 23rd, and we’re still waiting.

It’s too early to worry. Cravath essentially check-raised S&C with spring bonuses last year. There’s a good chance S&C is just trying to figure out how to avoid having that happen again.

I still think spring bonuses will be coming. There are just too many firms paying out more than Cravath in terms of bonus. Cravath partners might be getting high fives from partners around Biglaw for helping to keep bonuses low. But there are so many firms blowing past Cravath (and Cravath followers) that, eventually, the very smart people Cravath hires will wake up and realize they can make more money elsewhere.

The latest firm to make Cravath bonuses look small is Latham & Watkins. Their median bonus is especially more generous than CSM’s as people become midlevel or senior associates….

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Here at Above the Law, we realize that we sometimes sound like broken records. We’re constantly bemoaning the casualties of the student loan industry, blaming law schools for preying upon poor, innocent, and financially inexperienced law students.

But at some point, there comes a time when we’ve got to stop defending law students when they make incredibly irresponsible financial decisions. Sometimes, we’ve really got to wonder: how can people be so dense? Simply put, it’s because they’re law students.

Case in point: kids at a D.C. metro-area school recently fell victim to a scam that wasn’t perpetrated by their law school, but instead, by an alleged law student whose sob story sounded just like a Sally Struthers commercial….

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* Representative Gabrielle Giffords will be resigning from Congress this week to focus on her recovery. Jared Loughner, the man accused of shooting her, is still way too loony to stand trial. [CNN]

* Because of this huge law firm, Dotcom’s bubble has officially burst. Hogan Lovells partner Robert S. Bennett has withdrawn from the Megaupload.com case, citing a conflict of interest with another client. [Reuters]

* In Egypt, even if your client is considered a modern-day pharoah, when you finish your closing arguments, you get a round of applause. And tons of jeers from other lawyers. [Boston Globe]

* Ben Roethlisberger settled his civil rape lawsuit. Neither side will comment as to whether money was a part of the settlement. (Hint: that means a lot of money was involved.) [Reno Gazette-Journal]

* Penn State’s former football coach, Joe Paterno, passed away this weekend. His grand jury testimony can’t be used in court, but the Sandusky litigation will continue. [San Francisco Chronicle]

* Seeing red: lawyers for Louboutin and YSL will face off in an appellate, trademark “shoedown” this week. What does Harvard Law’s fashionista, Jeannie Suk, have to say? [New York Times]

* Remember Doug Arntsen? He’s the ex-Crowell & Moring attorney who fled the country after allegedly embezzling millions. But he’s no flight risk — that’s “absurd.” [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

What’s the most sure-fire way to make money in a bad economy? Capitalize on the misery of others. As the Kobra Kai taught us, strike first, strike hard, no mercy, sir!

Today’s Legal Sweep the Leg Award goes to Kick’em Out Quick, a “One Stop Shop” for tenant evictions and collections based in Ogden, Utah. Kick’em Out Quick is an online marketing company that strives to drum up eviction numbers for member attorneys who pay for the privilege of bearing the Kick’em Out Quick name.

Kick’em Out Quick extends a helping hand to landlords, offering sympathy and understanding of the stresses that these everyday heroes must endure at the hands of nasty tenants. Even better, they help motivated lawyers make money in the process.

When there is blood in the water, the sharks will start circling. Kicking ’em out quick is only the beginning…

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Tomorrow, associates at Goodwin Procter will receive individualized news of their bonuses. You may recall that last month, when ATL’s new director of research, Brian Dalton, compiled a list of Biglaw’s ten most generous firms — i.e., the ten firms that pay the best bonuses, when measured against their profits per partner — Goodwin did good, winning fourth place. (The firm fares well in rankings; last month, it made Crain’s list of best places to work in New York.)

Will this year’s bonuses preserve Goodwin’s good standing? Let’s find out. Although the individual amounts are being communicated tomorrow, the firm has outlined its overall approach in a memo….

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Oh, you’re all running here now. You saw the title. Here you come. Click click click. It’s all you want to know. And by you, I mean those who claim to love Biglaw, but would jump to your own place or a smaller firm in a second if you “could make the same money.”

I know.

I know when you call me, when you come to my office to discuss the “possibility of leaving,” that it’s the only thing on your mind. Sure, you want your name on the door, more freedom, more client contact. But you just have one real question. One real fear. One real concern. One thing you need to convince your better half of before you make “the jump.”

Can I make the same money?

Here’s the answer….

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Scrooge McDuck: he is the 1 percent (but not a lawyer).

Lawyers are the fourth most well-represented occupational group among the nation’s top 1 percent (which, for purposes of the study, consists of households with a pretax income of $380,000, excluding capital gains).

– a New York Times analysis of data collected by the University of Minnesota Population Center.

Additional interesting facts and links — including which occupations ranked ahead of lawyers, and what percentage of lawyers belong to the 1 percent — appear after the jump.

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At the start of this new year, what is the outlook like for legal employment? There’s certainly a fair amount of bad news out there, particularly for recent law school graduates.

But what about for denizens of Biglaw, the lawyers fortunate (or unfortunate) enough to work at the nation’s largest law firms? What does 2012 hold for them?

Earlier this month, my colleague Elie made some predictions for the legal profession. I will follow in his footsteps and venture some prophecies of my own for the year….

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The other day, I was at dinner with some Biglaw friends. While I prefer to associate only with my small-firm kin, I needed someone to pick up the check. And, I thought I could do some missionary work and convert my friends in to small-firm lawyers (so I could mine them for story ideas, obviously).

Something unexpected happened during dinner. One of my friends asked me why I believe small-firm life is so different from Biglaw. I went through my standard list of reasons: quality of life, money, autonomy, mentoring, etc. I even cited Tom Wallerstein’s Top Ten.

That was where things took an unexpected turn: my friend did not buy it. Indeed, by the end of our dinner he had me questioning my beliefs. Does size matter, I thought? Needless to say, as a woman who has devoted her “career” to writing about small-firm life, this experience shook me to my core.

Let’s see if you can help me make sense of that night….

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