Money

This actually happened last Wednesday — but, due to the less-than-exciting nature of the news, we doubt anyone has been prejudiced by our delay in reporting it. The law firm of Dewey & LeBoeuf announced associate and counsel bonuses, on the Sullivan & Cromwell scale (i.e., the Cravath scale, but topping out at $42,500 instead of $37,500).

Even if not surprising, it is nice that Dewey is matching market. As you may recall, Dewey made our list of the top ten most generous law firms — i.e., ten firms that generally match Cravath-level bonuses, despite having significantly lower profits per partner than Cravath. Partners at these firms take a financial hit to keep their associates happy.

Just like last year, there are a few footnotes to the Dewey bonus news that merit comment. And there’s some positive news for top performers, too….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: Dewey Get Bonuses? Why Yes, You Do!”

Schulte Roth & Zabel really came up with a creative way to make this terrible bonus season even worse for SRZ associates.

Schulte is matching the Cravath scale, but not all at once. Half of the bonus is being paid now, the other half in March. It’s Schulte’s way of issuing a retention bonus without actually spending any extra money.

It also sets Schulte up nicely to avoid paying spring bonuses next year. Not that Schulte management really cares what people think about them. The firm didn’t pay spring bonuses last year. Even though the firm is making people whole with a “spring bonus” payment to those who should have gotten one last spring, the money is still tied to hitting 2011 hours targets.

It’s really one of the most disingenuous bonus memos we’ve seen. While technically the firm is matching Cravath, it’s doing it in a nickle-and-dime way that makes it pretty clear the Schulte partnership begrudges every last cent they have to pay out in bonuses.

If the associates don’t like it, they know where the door is….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: Schulte Roth & Zabel Leaves a Trail of Bonus Crumbs”

* The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on Obamacare over three days in March. Let’s fast forward to June so we can see how Election 2012 is going to turn out. [Blog of Legal Times]

* The Grinch definitely stole AT&T’s Christmas this year, and even a team of Biglaw superstars couldn’t save the day. The company’s merger deal with T-Mobile is now officially dead. [Am Law Daily]

* A bed and breakfast owner told this lesbian couple aloha before they could even say aloha, and now they’re suing. And here I thought that Hawaii specialized in tiny, gay bubbles. [Washington Post]

* James Franco doesn’t just get bad grades on Rotten Tomatoes. José Angel Santana, one of his former professors, has filed a lawsuit saying NYU fired him for giving the actor a “D.” [Reuters]

* Snooki, Jersey Shore’s drunken munchkin, is being sued for $7M over a licensing deal gone bad. The worst part is that even if she paid up, she’d still have oodles of money in the bank. [Daily Mail]

* Sick of law school? Get all of your bitching down on paper, and turn your rage-filled manifesto into a short story for submission to the JLE Legal Fiction Contest. [National Law Journal]


'Who needs cash? We have these nifty red hats!'

Over the weekend, I had dinner with a friend of mine who used to work as a paralegal at a small law firm. She told me about how one year, for the holidays, all the lawyers chipped in to get her a gift certificate to a spa, so she could get herself a massage.

I said it sounded like a nice gesture. This was not the reaction my friend was going for in telling the story; she viewed the gift as an insult. Her view: Christmastime is the time to show me the money.

I can understand that perspective for secretaries or administrative assistants. As we’ve discussed before, if you’re an attorney you should give your secretary a holiday gift that’s either cash or a cash equivalent (like an AmEx or Visa gift card). As a legal secretary once told us, “if you decide on giving gift certificates [to specific stores], I sincerely hope your next bonus will be paid in the same currency.”

But paralegals, at least at large firms — my friend who got the massage certificate worked at a small firm — are a trickier proposition. Over the course of a year in Biglaw, a lawyer might work with many different paralegals, on a wide range of matters. Are you expected to give gifts to all of them?

So what should a lawyer do with respect to holiday gifts for paralegals? And, of course, what’s the “going rate” for holiday gifts for secretaries in 2011?

Let’s conduct some reader polls, and open up the comments for discussion….

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* Someone figured out exactly what’s on every nerdy lawyer’s holiday wish list: an iPhone app for PACER. Get it while it’s hot — it’s free! [iTunes App Store]

* The First Amendment will always reign supreme, even if people are harassing religious old ladies on the Twitter. [Underdog]

* Legalizing same-sex marriage is like eating your vegetables. You might not like it, but it’s good for your health. [Jezebel]

* This is quite possibly the worst “bitch owed me money” story ever. What kind of a person sets a grandma on fire? In an elevator? [TIME]

* Thanks to technological innovations, friending people online might soon carry more meaning than friending them in real life. [What About Clients?]

* Go ahead, get up and tweet about the location of DUI checkpoints. Just make sure you take those 12 steps back to your seat when you’re done. [Legal Blog Watch]

* My birthday is on Wednesday. If you want to give me a present, you can vote for Above the Law in the ABA Journal’s Blawg 100, under the “News” category. [ABA Journal]

It seems that founding partner John Quinn isn’t the only one at Quinn Emanuel with a surplus of Benjamins right about now. On Friday, the litigation powerhouse announced its 2011 year-end bonus scale — and, for the most part, it’s more generous than the benchmark Cravath bonus scale.

We say “for the most part” because, for associates billing under 2100 hours, the scale is below Cravath — but just slightly. And it’s our understanding that not many QE associates bill less than 2100 hours anyway.

Let’s take a look at the details….

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Full disclosure: I have a disproportionate amount of lawyer friends who work at Sidley Austin. Their bonuses have caused all sorts of fun to happen in my inbox. Without even seeing the actual bonus memo, I could tell what was happening based on Gchats and text messages. Friends said things like:

“Yawn.”

“This joke stopped being funny days ago.”

“Is ATL hiring?”

“Sidley proves you right every single day.”

I like it when friends making three times as much money as I make feel comfortable complaining to me.

And, you know, I am right….

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It appears that the answer to that question is, “You’re welcome.”

If you made a list of people whose opinions matter when it comes to Biglaw bonuses, you couldn’t name ten people more important than Susan Webster. She’s the head of the general corporate practice at Cravath Swaine & Moore. If we knew how much she tipped her doorman, it would be big news.

But we can do better than that.

A tipster let us in on an overheard conversation between Webster and a Biglaw partner at a different firm. When we contacted her, Webster told us that the tipster mischaracterized the nature of her accidentally public conversation.

But why don’t you take a look, and prepare yourself for the possibility of a very sad spring….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “What Do Cravath Partners Say About The Bonuses To Other Biglaw Partners When They Think Nobody Is Listening?”

Partners at Gibson Dunn are conducting associate reviews this week. Associates receive news of how they’re doing — and how much they’ll be getting, in terms of bonuses that will be paid out later this month.

As we’ve explained in 2010 and 2009, the GDC bonus system is not transparent and not lockstep. Instead, associates get individualized bonuses, based on such factors as hours and quality of work. The firm tends to use the Cravath scale as the starting point for its bonus scale.

What’s the early word about Gibson bonuses this year?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: Gibson Dunn Does Its Thing
(Or: Gibson Dunn Open Thread — 2011)”

Years ago, I handled a pro bono case for a client unable to afford legal services. (I actually handled a fair number of pro bono cases, but I’m choosing to describe just one here.) The client was a very nice guy, and he desperately needed legal services. But he had no idea how to use a lawyer cost-effectively and, because he wasn’t paying for my services, he had no incentive to restrain himself. The guy called incessantly, asked endless questions, and was always trying to schedule meetings with me. I mentioned the situation to one of my senior colleagues, and the colleague’s reaction was immediate: “What that client needs is a bill.”

During the decades when I served as outside counsel representing clients, I noticed that some of my clients permitted me to do their work efficiently and others affirmatively obstructed that effort. Now that I’m an in-house lawyer, I’m thinking about the other side of that coin: What should I, in my role as client, do to permit outside counsel to represent me efficiently?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Inside Straight: Inflating Your Own Outside Legal Spend”

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