The venerable firm of Cravath, Swaine & Moore has received a fair amount of criticism for its allegedly subpar bonuses. I’ve previously defended their payouts — in times of economic uncertainty, is paying modest bonuses to avoid later layoffs such a bad idea? — but my view has been poorly received. (For commentary castigating firms for their cheapness, please turn to my colleague, Elie Mystal.)
Partners at Cravath, where profits per partner exceeded $3 million in 2010, are definitely in the top 1 percent. But it seems that even non-partners are doing quite nicely for themselves, despite all the bonus bellyaching.
Check out the million-dollar penthouse — yay real estate porn! — of one of Cravath’s corporate lawyers. And she’s not even a partner….
UPDATE (12/12/11): We’ve gotten our hands on the floorplan, which we’ve added to the slideshow, and we’ve added additional comments about what a “practice area attorney” does at Cravath.
We have a soft spot for Columbia Law School, especially after our excellent visit there on Wednesday (“our” = Lat + Kash). Thanks to the CLS Federalist Society, the sponsor of our talk, for the warm welcome.
Through some combination of gossip, online stalking, hounding their teaching assistants and perusing the Facebook group “Phillip [sic] Bobbitt is Our Hero,” students piece together the following:
Professor Bobbitt, who is 60, arrived at Columbia only 18 months ago, after three decades at the University of Texas. He is an eminent scholar of the Constitution and used to teach modern history at Oxford. He’s a former member of the Carter, Bush I and Clinton administrations and an adviser to foreign heads of state.
Henry Kissinger and Tony Blair blurbed his latest book on terrorism, which both current presidential candidates have reportedly read. He’s the nephew of Lyndon B. Johnson. He can blow smoke rings, and sponsors a national poetry prize in honor of his late mother. Also: He rotates seasonally among his homes, and can’t shake his habit of a nightly cigar and scotch-and-soda.
Read more, including words of wisdom from the worldly-wise professor, after the jump.
In our column for this week’s New York Observer, we take Michael Clayton, the new legal thriller starring George Clooney, and use it as a jumping-off point for a discussion of the senior associate. Here’s an excerpt:
“Who is this guy?”
That’s what an icy general counsel (Tilda Swinton) wants to know about George Clooney—of all people—in the new legal thriller Michael Clayton. At the prestigious New York law firm of Kenner, Bach & Ledeen, Mr. Clooney’s title character has the nifty-sounding job of “Special Counsel,” as well as a snazzy corner office overlooking Sixth Avenue. But while he’s been at the firm for 17 years, he’s never made partner. As a salaried employee, with no management role or equity stake in the firm (as he bitterly notes more than once), Michael Clayton is what we politely call a senior associate.
So, who are these guys? Senior associates are typically associates who didn’t make partner. They’re generally viewed by their colleagues as perfectly competent worker bees, but not superstar material. They’re no longer in junior-associate hell, and they’re very well paid, but their predicament within the legal profession’s prestige-obsessed precincts is difficult: They’re indefinitely trapped in the purgatory of nonpartnership, with its attendant lack of dignity.
But is the “plight” of senior associates overstated? Read the rest of the piece by clicking here.
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