Salaries

Earlier this week, we took a look at faculty salaries at UVA Law School. They’re freely available online because UVA is a public law school. The UVA student newspaper obtained the records through FOIA and then posted them on the web. (If you have a problem with such information being made public, sorry. The best I can do is channel Justice Scalia and tell you: “Amend the statute.” )

We don’t want to pick on UVA, so we’re going to take a look at law professor compensation at a few state law schools. Going down the latest U.S. News rankings, we find ourselves at the ninth-best law school in the nation, Berkeley Law aka Boalt Hall.

The word “Berkeley” conjures up images of long-haired hippies smoking copious amounts of marijuana. But in light of their lush salaries, Berkeley law professors could roll joints using hundred-dollar bills….

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UVA Law School

We write so many positive things about UVA Law School that we could be the school’s publicists. We gave UVA top honors in our ranking of southern law schools based on reader responses to the ATL Insider Survey. We praised UVA’s innovative public service fellowships for recent graduates. We pointed out that UVA is a top law school for government and public service jobs and for prestigious judicial clerkships, especially Supreme Court clerkships.

(UVA also excels when it comes to producing funny Law Revue videos. They won once in the past and have been in the finals several times. Don’t be shocked if they make an appearance again in this year’s contest, whose finalists we’ll be announcing on Wednesday.)

What are the secrets to UVA’s success as a law school? For one thing, they have an amazing faculty, full of leading scholars and inspiring teachers.

But such talent doesn’t come cheap. Let’s learn more about law professors’ salaries at UVA….

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What’s happening to the compensation of top partners at one major firm.

What kind of world are we living in? As we mentioned yesterday, a law school just announced that it’s lowering tuition — a shocking move, given that law schools almost always increase tuition by a few percentage points per year.

And now we get this news: a major law firm is cutting — yes, cutting — pay for top partners. This is a big surprise too, given that the powerful trend in the industry has been in favor of a growing divergence in pay between the highest- and lowest-earning partners. According to one recent study, “the spread in compensation between the highest- and lowest-paid partners in law firms has increased to 6-to-1 or 7-to-1 from the previous count of 4-to-1 or 5-to-1.”

So which firm is making this move, and what’s motivating it?

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Judge Patty Shwartz

* Congratulations to Judge Patty Shwartz on her confirmation to the Third Circuit. She will be sorely missed in the District Court — especially by Judge Hochberg. [People for the American Way]

* And congrats to another alum of my former office, Michael Martinez, who just joined Mayer Brown as a litigation partner. [Mayer Brown]

* “Sometimes the women partners make jokes about men. He forces himself to laugh at the jokes like he doesn’t care, and in the beginning he didn’t care….” [Ms. JD]

* Speaking of objectification, you’ve waited years for this: “The Cast of 12 Angry Men in Order of Hotness.” [The Awl]

* Uganda hates gays, and now they hate miniskirts. God only knows what they’d do to gays in miniskirts. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Two things our readers love: compensation porn and rankings. Which universities pay the highest faculty salaries? [TaxProf Blog]

* Another Yale Law School graduate turned writer: congrats to Steph Cha, whose new novel, Follow Her Home (affiliate link), just got a favorable review in the Los Angeles Times. [Los Angeles Times]

Unlike the latest Harmony Korine movie, filled with neon bikinis, former Disney princesses. and James Franco in bad dreads, my Spring Break consists of hanging with my kids while my wife works 24/7 on a grant application. We don’t make annual pilgrimages to Turks and Caicos; we make bi-weekly trips to Wegmans. But you know what? I signed on for this, and no amount of island sand can replace the sound of my younger boy reading a bedtime story to his little sister for the first time last night.

I read with interest the compensation package for the anonymous in-houser that Lat posted yesterday. In the comments, I pointed out that the package wasn’t outrageous or impossible, just that it was (way) outside of the norm. And that is okay. I chose this life and I am happy to say that it has been a soft landing for me. I have a good job, in a real estate market that is hard to beat — anywhere.

Lat is correct that Susan, Mark and I need to be circumspect about compensation; it would not do for our employers to see a pay scale pasted on these pages. So what can I say about my comp?

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As regular readers of Above the Law know, we offer a wealth of content for in-house counsel. We have three in-house lawyers at major corporations who write columns for us — Mark Herrmann, Susan Moon, and David Mowry — and we supplement their coverage with additional in-house posts by our other writers.

One subject that our columnists tend to shy away from, for understandable reasons, is that of in-house compensation. They’ve written in general terms about comp issues, but they haven’t, say, divulged hard numbers about how much they earn.

But one of our in-house readers reached out to us and did exactly that. Let’s find out how much this person makes. The claim: in-house lawyers are better paid than you might expect….

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Apparently there’s no such thing as “rankings fatigue” in this world, because hot on the heels of the release of the 2014 U.S. News law school rankings, we’ve got another set of rankings. These rankings, brought to us by Forbes, focus on one of the most-discussed areas when it comes to the value of legal education as of late: starting salaries.

Let’s face it: no matter the reason you went to law school, money is constantly on your mind. Whether you’re currently rolling around in a bed full of cash like Demi Moore in Indecent Proposal or you’re rubbing your last two pennies together wondering how you’re going to make your next loan payment, your cash flow (or lack thereof) is very important, and starting salaries may reflect the money you’ll be able to make later on in life.

Let’s dig in to this list of the nation’s richest recent law school grads, as ranked by median starting salary….

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We’re in the middle of what we previously referred to as the second wave of law firm bonus announcements. Later today, for example, we’ll write about the Latham & Watkins announcement from yesterday. (So far we’re hearing mixed things; if you’re at Latham and would like to opine on the bonuses, feel free to email us or text us (646-820-8477).)

Right now we’re going to discuss the bonuses announced at Goodwin Procter (which actually just hired a partner, Brynn Peltz, away from Latham). The Goodwin bonus announcement came out on Tuesday of this week.

So what do 2012 bonuses at Goodwin Procter look like?

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A few months ago, we wrote a story about the $160K-Plus Club: those law firms that pay their first-year associates more than $160,000 a year, the going rate within Biglaw. Earlier this week, we covered which cities give young lawyers the biggest bang for their buck — i.e., cities where the buying power of the median salary for that city is the greatest.

Let’s mash up these two stories. Today we bring you news of a law firm that (1) pays a starting salary of more than $160,000 and (2) is based in a city that’s in the top ten for buying power. Associates at this firm are — by our calculations, based on the NALP Buying Power Index — living as well as someone earning $414,000 in New York City. That’s a staggering sum for a first-year associate.

So which firm are we talking about? And are they hiring?

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We’re tempted to do what we proposed last year regarding Sidley Austin bonuses, by simply writing: “Sidley bonuses are out. The scale is not transparent, so some people may be happy with their bonuses and others may be unhappy. Here is an open thread for you to discuss. Thank you.”

That would at least spare us from some of the criticism we’ve received for our coverage of the Sidley bonuses in recent years. In 2010, we initially wrote a very positive post, which we got criticized for by people who saw it as too positive. In 2011, we went in the other direction, reporting that Sidley’s bonuses drew yawns from associates — an assessment that drew flak for us from happy campers at Sidley (and there are many happy campers at the firm; it enjoys an A- rating from ATL readers who work there).

So we realize that covering the sensitive subject of Sidley bonuses is a bit like trying to reach a budget deal: you can’t make everyone happy, just varying degrees of unhappy. But we’ll give it our best shot….

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