Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP

Readers of Above the Law are a classy bunch. Sure, you enjoy a good sex scandal every now and then — who doesn’t? But you also enjoy more high-minded fare, ranging from Supreme Court analysis to career advice to discussion of the history of legal education.

Your highbrow tastes manifested themselves in our recent summer associate event contest. Rejecting pop culture icons and fun-sounding sporting events, you flocked to the polls to vote for a classic….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “ATL Summer Associate Event Contest (2013): The Winner!”

Summertime and the livin’ is easy.

Summer associate class sizes might be shrinking, but for those law students lucky enough to make it into a summer program, life is good. The offers are being given out liberally, and the summer events are just as fun as ever.

Need proof? Just consider the six excellent events that we’ve selected for the finals of this year’s summer associate event contest. Some were cultural extravaganzas, others were athletic outings, but all were fun and fabulous. Thanks to everyone who submitted a nomination.

Vote below for your favorite. Without further ado, here they are:

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You’d be jumping for joy if you landed an offer from a top law firm.

It’s harder to be a partner in Biglaw today, both in terms of making partner and remaining a partner. You can no longer just coast along after making partner; you need to prove yourself and your value to the firm, year after year. That’s a change from past practice (and people can argue when exactly the change took place).

But some things in Biglaw haven’t changed. The practice of being generous with offers to summer associates — too generous, some might argue — is alive and well. Summer programs are smaller today than they were before the Great Recession, but offer rates remain robust.

Following up on Monday’s story, here are more firms that have given offers to all of their summers:

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A $500,000 associate? (Click to enlarge.)

Base salaries for Biglaw associates haven’t budged since January 2007, when Simpson Thacher led the charge to $160k. Year-end bonuses have remained fairly static since 2007 as well, the year of Cravath’s special bonuses. The 2012 bonuses represented an improvement over the 2011 bonuses, but only if you ignored the 2011 phenomenon of spring bonuses. On the whole, associate compensation is treading water.

But for Supreme Court clerks, aka “The Elect,” compensation continues to climb. In 2011, the signing bonus for outgoing SCOTUS clerks started to move from $250K to $280K. In 2012, the increase solidified, with $280K becoming the new going rate (and $285K becoming the above-market rate).

Now, just a year later, some firms are offering SCOTUS clerkship bonuses in excess of $280K or $285K. How much are they paying, and which offices of which firms are leading the market higher? The answer might surprise you….

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They’re exploiting the prestige of the profession to screw a lawyer out of his rightful wages. I think there’s a general sense that if we’re a law firm and we’re doing it, then it’s legal.

– New York plaintiffs’ lawyer D. Maimon Kirschenbaum, in remarks made about his latest client’s Fair Labor Standards Act suit against Skadden Arps and Tower Legal Staffing. This is the third FLSA suit filed by Kirschenbaum in which a plaintiff claims that document reviewers are entitled to overtime pay due to the routine nature of the work.

(Keep reading for additional details about Kirschenbaum’s prior suits, and to see the latest complaint, replete with the truth on the horrors of doc review.)

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In this economy, in the “new normal,” the most prestigious firm is the one that has given you a job offer. Sure, there are still students and grads who are lucky enough to be juggling multiple job offers from major firms in multiple cities. And to those people we say, “OMG, I hate you, shut up and go away.”

For those experiencing an embarrassment of job offer riches, here are the Vault rankings. Yay. Take a look at them, by yourself, under the covers, where nobody else can see that you have options….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “2014 Vault Law Firm Rankings: Which Firm Is The Most Prestigious In The Land?”

Yesterday, some summer associates watched kitten videos on YouTube.

It’s the middle of June, the sun is shining, and Biglaw summer associate programs are in full swing. An old joke: Satan offers incredible wealth to a man in exchange for his soul. The man replies, “B-b-b-but, won’t I have to go to Hell?” Satan says, “Oh, don’t believe what you’ve heard, Hell isn’t that bad. Here, take a look.” And it’s all cocktail receptions and long lazy lunches at fancy restaurants. So he sells his soul. Later, when he dies, he goes to Hell, and sure enough, it’s all flames, pitchforks and eternal agony. The man protests to Satan, who replies – “Oh, that was our summer program.”

The joke smells a bit like 2006 or so, when Biglaw summer programs were at their largest and most extravagant, and most firms barely pretended any substantive work was part of the equation. Yet even though summer associate classes have been significantly downsized post-recession and the perks aren’t as lavish, the summer associate experience certainly retains much of that Bizarro world detachment from the actual realities of practice.

Summer programs have traditionally served as bait-and-switch recruitment tools used to woo rising 3Ls with wine tastings, sporting events, theater outings and boat rides. Since the recession, many firms have begun to emphasize “real work” as central to their summer associate programs (e.g., here and here). But these claims need to be taken with an ocean of salt. As the Dothraki say, “it is known” that newbie lawyers just aren’t ready to do any real work.

In any event, let’s take a look at the top-rated Biglaw summer associate programs, according to the ATL Insider Survey.

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Caution: May lead to malpractice suits.

* Just like he said in 2008, President Barack Obama says that he’s going to close Guantanamo Bay, and this time, he means it. No, really, he appointed a Skadden partner to handle it, so we know he means business now. [Blog of Legal Times]

* The Supreme Court just invalidated Arizona’s proof-of-citizenship voter registration law, so of course Ted Cruz wants to add an amendment to the Senate immigration reform bill to require citizenship to vote because, well… duh. [Politico]

* According to a Pew Research survey, a majority of Americans think Edward Snowden should be prosecuted for his NSA leaks. It’s also likely that same majority don’t even know what Edward Snowden leaked. [USA Today]

* It looks like Jon Leibowitz, the FTC’s ex-chairman, got some great birthday presents this week. Davis Polk partnership and a SCOTUS victory aren’t too shabby. [DealBook / New York Times]

* They don’t give a damn ’bout their bad reputation: malpractice claims filed against attorneys and firms were up in 2012, and some say mergers and laterals are to blame. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* If you’re worried about your low GPA when applying to law school, you haven’t been reading the news. You’ll get in everywhere you apply. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News & World Report]

* ¡Ay dios mío! The Hispanic National Bar Association is hoping that a week spent in law school will inspire minority high school students to become lawyers in the distant future. [National Law Journal]

Jodi Arias

* Growth was “steady” for New York’s top firms, with Latham & Watkins and Skadden Arps leading the pack in terms of gross revenue — which wasn’t surprising, considering their Am Law 100 gross revenue ranking. [New York Law Journal]

* Dewey know when we’ll be able to stop using this pun? Hmm, at this rate, probably never. Steve Otillar and Citi recently settled their dueling suits over the ex-D&L partner’s capital contribution loan to the failed firm. [Am Law Daily]

* Cahill Gordon was supposed to investigate the Rutgers basketball scandal, but the firm cited a conflict of interest, so Skadden Arps stepped in. [Insert the joke of your choice here. I don't like or watch this sport.] [Reuters]

* Surely you’ve heard about Justice Orie Melvin’s sentence by now. As it turns out, shaming a judge like you’d shame your dog online might not be enforceable… which is too bad. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

* When we last spoke about “controversial” commencement speakers, we didn’t bring up the fact that Nancy Pelosi would be pulling double duty at UC Davis and Baltimore. Thoughts? [National Law Journal]

* She’s got a death wish: the aggravation phase of the Jodi Arias trial was postponed at the last minute yesterday, and some think it’s because of the interview she gave after the verdict was announced. [CNN]

Tampa is lovely this time of year.

Hello from Tampa, Florida, site of the 2013 annual education conference of the Association for Legal Career Professionals (aka NALP). Elie Mystal, Brian Dalton and I have been attending some excellent panels, catching up with old friends, and making new ones (although some law school folks here have given Elie the stink eye).

Yesterday I attended an interesting panel entitled “Homegrown or Not: Lateral Hiring vs. Law Student Recruiting.” The important topic drew a standing room only crowd….

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