Three years ago yesterday, on August 30, 2006, Above the Law was born. Read the letter from the editor that started it all. (If you find this site occasionally immature, cut us some slack; we’re three years old.)
Reaching the three-year mark is a notable milestone for a blog. According to Jim Beck and Mark Herrmann, over at Drug and Device Law:
Legal blogs are like small businesses: Half of ‘em fail in the first year, and 90 percent of ‘em fail in the next five.
But we’re still here. Our traffic (and revenue) continue to grow, knock on wood. And we have you — our readers, sources, advertisers, and friends — to thank. So, thank you.
If you’d like to send us birthday gifts — a reader sent Roxana a lovely Starbucks card the other day, and the rest of us are jealous — our snail mail address is 262 Mott Street, Suite 102A, New York, NY 10012. The third anniversary — or blogiversary, as the case may be — is the leather anniversary. So you can give Lat a leather business card holder, Kash a leather laptop case (or a leather fringe bikini), and Elie the rest of the cow.
(You can also send us news tips or juicy documents by snail mail. They’d be a nice change of pace from our usual hard-copy mail: handwritten letters from prisoners, alleging they were framed.)
In any event, thank you for joining our ATL community. We deeply appreciate your visits, tips, and continued support.
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.
Today we’re pleased to announce our new ATL Career Partner: Lateral Link.
If you’re a well-credentialed lawyer looking for a new career opportunity, they can provide you with the information and assistance that you need. Check out their website by clicking here.
A few brief highlights:
1. If you obtain a position through Lateral Link, they will pay you a placement bonus of $10,000. We’re not aware of other legal search firms that employ this model.
2. The firm was founded by three Harvard Law School alums who previously worked at leading Biglaw shops. As recipients of daily, unsolicited “cold calls” — yeah, you know how annoying those can be — they started Lateral Link to create a more efficient, less irritating job search and placement process.
3. Lateral Link’s web-based model does away with cold calls from headhunters and recruiters. Instead, Lateral Link provides attorneys with up-to-date information through emails or their website, designed to match each attorney’s online profile.
(Disclosure: In case it isn’t amply clear from the rest of this post, a commercial relationship exists between Above the Law and Lateral Link. So don’t say that we didn’t adequately disclose — like, say, these people. Thanks.)
Very big (and bigger than yours). We can’t give up specific numbers for specific classes, because that might get our sources in trouble (and WLRK is a pretty small firm).
But we’ll just make these general observations:
1. Wachtell Lipton pays base salaries that are at (or even slightly above) market.
2. Earlier this year, they paid out midyearbonuses ranging from $15,000, for the newest associates, to $50,000, for the most senior classes.
3. When you add the midyear bonuses to the year-end bonuses that were paid out earlier this week — on Tuesday, December 12 — every class at Wachtell received 2006 bonus compensation equal or slightly greater than 100 percent of base salary.
4. This year, the percentage of bonus as base varied a bit from class to class. Historically this hasn’t always been the case; when we were there, it was pretty much constant.
Executive summary: Take your base salary, double it, and that’s what your law school classmate who went to Wachtell earned in 2006, “all in” (base salary + mid-year bonus + year-end bonus).
A shameless plug for our former firm, based on the time that we spent there (2000 – 2003), after the jump.
Back when we practiced law, and we’d tell people what we did for a living, they’d have different reactions. Sometimes they’d say “Oh, really?”, in an impressed, you-must-make-six-figures sort of way. But sometimes their eyes would glaze over — and they’d excuse themselves to go refill their drinks.
Why? Because many people think that lawyers are boring. And sometimes it seems that the more lawyers people know, the more likely they are to think this.
It’s true that many areas of law — and yes, many lawyers — are painfully boring. But the legal profession can also be gossipy, wacky, frivolous, and fun. And this is where we come in. We are Above the Law, and we’re here to make the law entertaining — or get RSI tryin’.
Above the Law will be defined less by specific subjects within the law and more by tone or worldview (Weltanschauung, if you will; and you will, ’cause you’re pretentious). We’ll write about all things legal — law firms, judges, law schools, cases — as long as we have something mildly amusing, or at least obnoxious,* to say about them.
Blog ipsa loquitur. Here are some features you’ll find in these pages (and our extensive archives):
1. Legal Eagle Wedding Watch. We review the New York Times wedding announcements each week, pick out some couples with lawyers, and score them — on their résumés, families, balance, and beauty (if pictured). Then we calculate overall scores and declare a winner. FUN! (We’ve been at this for a few weeks now; click here and scroll down for the Wedding Watch archives.)
2. Lawyerly Lairs. Real estate and shelter porn for the J.D. set. We take you inside the lavish homes and resplendent offices of America’s top lawyers and judges. Don’t blame us if your keyboard ends up covered in drool. (Previously covered: Greta Van Susteren and John Coale’s New York digs.)
This is just the beginning. But we can’t do it all on our own; we need your help. Please send us juicy gossip, salacious rumors, and brilliant story ideas, by email (to tips AT abovethelaw DOT com).
We may reprint or write about what you send us, but we’ll keep you anonymous. If we’d like to attribute anything to you by name, we’ll obtain your consent. If you’d like to tell us something completely off the record, that’s fine too — just make that clear when you contact us.
Enough lawyerly caveats; billable time is a wastin’. How long will it take before somebody sues us? Let’s find out!**
* Back when we were in the third grade, a classmate’s parent — who was chaperoning us on a field trip — told us we were “obnoxious.” We should have known, right then and there, that we were destined for the blogosphere.
** This is a joke. We would never publish anything with knowledge of its falsity, or with reckless disregard as to its truth.
Hey, have you read Above the Law for like one single minute in the past month? If so, you probably know that we’re having this big blogger conference on March 14th at the Yale Club. Yeah, the Yale Club. You’ll be able to recognize me: I’ll be the only big… blogger guy surreptitiously holding a can of crimson spray-paint.
Speaking of coming, you should come. We’ve got CLE and all that. Click here to buy tickets to get CLE credit for listening to bloggers scream about stuff on the internet.
To refresh your memory, details on the panel that I’m moderating — almost entirely sober, mind you — follow.
My panel is called Blogs as Agents of Change, and we’re going to talk about whether all of these spilled pixels are actually making a difference. You know my view… just ask Lawrence Mitchell, but here are the panelists:
So you spent a considerable amount of time courting, selling and maybe even doing some friendly stalking of that attractive lateral partner candidate with a sizable book. After he or she ignored your emails and didn’t return your calls, a few weeks go by and you read a press release in the legal media announcing the recent move to a competing firm.
Rats. Another one got away from you. You cringe when you consider how much time was spent in meetings that did not bear fruit. Your heart aches when recall how you were led to believe this was a marriage made in heaven.
You have been rejected.
The sting of rejection is painful, even for fancy law firms. But you need to find a way that you can turn this disappointment into a legitimate learning experience.
No, this isn’t a pre-party before we come back next fall for the real thing. This IS the real thing. Quinn Emanuel is pushing the envelope on recruiting. The party is now. This is when you meet the partners and associates face to face. This is when we begin the dance that could land you an offer for your second summer BEFORE school starts in the fall.
First: You come to the party. Second: If you like us, you send your resume after June 1, 2014. Third: If we like each other, you get an offer.
We’re not waiting for fall. We’re not doing the twenty minute thing. This party is the real thing!
We hope you’ll join us, and look forward to meeting you.
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