Tax

When it comes to the employee benefit known as “tax equalization for same-sex health benefits” (aka the “gay gross-up”), maybe the pertinent question should be which firms don’t offer it. Since our recent write-up, we’ve heard about more leading law firms that offer this perk, taking the total number of firms that have it to more than 40. (The new firms are mentioned below.)

So let’s move on to the next front, which we also alluded to in our prior post: adoption and surrogacy-related benefits. They’re not nearly as common as tax equalization for same-sex health benefits, but a handful of firms appear to offer them.

Let’s find out which ones, shall we?

UPDATE (2/8/2013, 1:00 AM): A noteworthy update about the legal status of surrogacy, after the jump.

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(Plus an update on the gay gross-up.)

It has been a long time since our last listing of the major law firms that offer the “tax offset for domestic partner health benefits” or the “tax equalization for same-sex health benefits.” (If you’re not familiar with this benefit, also known as the “gay gross-up,” see this explanation.)

As we’ve explained before, this benefit is necessary because of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Let’s hope that this benefit is no longer necessary in the near future. This Term, the Supreme Court will rule on the constitutionality of DOMA (assuming they don’t dodge the issue on jurisdictional grounds). If SCOTUS goes the way of the lower courts, DOMA will go down, and the gay gross-up won’t be needed.

In the meantime, though, the benefit is needed. Let’s take a look at which firms should be added to our list….

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I’m a week late in reminiscing about 2012, but what can I say? I’m a step slow; you’ll just have to excuse me. These are some of the memorable things I heard during the last year.

First, an employment lawyer who recently moved from the United States to the United Kingdom:

“What’s the correct way to refer to black people over here?”

“Excuse me?”

“In the United States, we refer to black people as ‘African-Americans.’ But you must have a different word for black people over here in England. Those people aren’t Americans, so they can’t be African-Americans.”

“We call blacks ‘blacks.'”

Second, a senior partner who serves on the executive committee of his Am Law 20 firm:

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Judge Lorna Schofield (S.D.N.Y.) looks like my mom. Is she as divalicious? Let’s hope!

* How much could going over the fiscal cliff cost midlevel to senior associates whose bonuses get paid in January? Here’s an estimate. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* Congratulations to the newest member of the S.D.N.Y. bench: former Debevoise partner Lorna Schofield, the first person of Filipino descent to be confirmed as an Article III judge. [AABANY]

* Judges in my home state of New Jersey are always so fair-minded. Here’s a great recusal motion, directed at Judge Carol Higbee in the New Jersey Accutane mass tort case. [Reed Smith via Drug and Device Law.]

* Make sure you don’t murder any babies before signing up to meet Nancy Grace. [Charity Buzz]

* Check out Advisable, an innovative new service for helping lawyers connect with clients; it’s free and easy to join. [Advisable (description); Advisable (application form)]

* If you’re looking for a stocking stuffer (affiliate link) for a young lawyer in your life, look no further; Dan Hull has a great recommendation. [What About Clients?]

If you’re interested in Judaism, Supreme Court clerks, or both, there’s a video for you after the jump….

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* It’s 12/12/12. Or as rational people call it, “just another Wednesday already, God.” [ABC News]

* Elizabeth Warren is going to be on the Senate Banking Committee. Boom. How ya like me now. [Reuters]

* Do women make better lawyers than men? For some reason this question made me want to make a really sexist joke. But I’m afraid of being yelled at by feminists. Afraid, like a little girl. [Law Frat]

* Verizon to take on copyright trolls. I hope this leads to a commercial with that Verizon T-Mobile 4G woman playing whack-a-mole in a sun dress. [Torrent Freak]

* You know what could keep us from falling off the fiscal cliff? The death tax. Mwahahaha. [Tax Prof Blog]

* SCOTUSblog is looking to hire a good law student or LL.M. student. Qualification #1: you should probably know what SCOTUS refers to. [SCOTUSblog]

* Lindsay Lohan had her probation revoked. If you are one of the people who care about this story, thus necessitating this mention of it, I hope bad things happen to you this holiday season. I’m serious, if you care about Lindsay Lohan, I hope Santa brings you herpes. [TMZ]

We recently reported that Weil Gotshal will be paying associate bonuses for 2012 in January 2013. This was a return to the firm’s historical practice, after two years of trying out December as the payment month, but some readers attributed ulterior tax motives to the firm.

The firm just issued its bonus memo for this year, announcing its latest position on the timing of bonus payments. And Weil diverges from the Cravath 2012 bonus scale, actually….

Please note the UPDATE added after the jump.

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* Legendary union leader Marvin Miller died today at the age of 95. This is a guy who lost a huge case at the Supreme Court fighting against Major League Baseball, and still found a way to win. He wasn’t a lawyer, but he mastered the law. [USA Today]

* Tax professors weigh in on the fiscal cliff. [Tax Prof Blog]

* Jersey Shore residents are suing over sand dune protection from storms. They’re not suing because they’re weren’t protected enough, they’re suing because the new sand dunes block their ocean view. [Asbury Park Press]

* Yahoo! and NBA lawyers might need to talk about what, precisely, the NBA is endorsing. [Marc Edelman Blog]

* I’m going to go on and vote “no” on the question of whether or not the U.N. should get to “govern” the internet. Wait… I don’t get a “vote” on what the U.N. should do? Well, that sounds like a good reason to go back to not giving a crap about anything the U.N. says. [The Volokh Conspiracy]

* Looks like the wheel finally came ’round on InTrade. [Dealbreaker]

* The Justice Resource Center, coordinator of the 2013 NYSBA High School Mock Trial Tournament, seeks voluntary attorney-coaches. Help teach young people about the law — and get CLE credit, too! [Justice Resource Center]

Yesterday, Cravath made it rain with a decent bonus scale, especially for those who survived the meltdown. A fifth-year associate at Cravath is making $230,000 in base salary and will receive a $34,000 bonus. Nice work if you can get it. (Actually, it’s not nice work. It’s grueling, soul-crushing. Luckily, most people can’t get it.)

Soon after the Cravath bonuses came out, Weil Gotshal issued some bonus news of its own. The firm is expected to match Cravath, but yesterday Weil announced that it won’t pay bonuses until the end of January, 2013. The timing represents a change for Weil; in recent years, the firm has paid out bonuses in December, not January.

Is it no big deal? Well, if you are a fifth-year expecting a Cravath-level bonus, it could be a huge deal. That bonus is going to push you over the $250,000 mark, and that could make a big difference if we’re talking about 2012 versus 2013…

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Last month, we discussed an interesting case that was pending before the New York Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court. The question presented: whether an adult entertainment club is entitled to a sales tax exemption for admission and lap dance fees under the theory that these dances qualify as “dramatic or musical arts performances.”

Flying with the speed of boobie tassels attached to a stripper gyrating furiously around a pole, the court handed down its ruling just a few short weeks after oral argument. Here’s what the court held….

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‘Standing with your arms folded is underrated.’

Hot air balloons, Ice Cube, new socks, Ray Guy, Uzbek food, Kevin Bacon, plus-size models, Pittsburgh… what do the items on this random list have in common? In some nook or cranny of the internet, someone is making the claim that they are “underrated.”

Apparently also underrated? The corporate group at Cahill Gordon, according to the ATL audience. Cahill received the most mentions as having an “underrated” corporate group in our ATL Insider Survey. Biglaw has a fairly stable roster of alpha dogs in each practice category (Weil in bankruptcy, Wachtell in M&A, etc.), but we wondered which firms’ practice groups deserve more recognition. So, among other things, our survey asks attorneys to nominate firms with underrated (and overrated) practices within the respondent’s own practice specialty. Litigators nominate litigation departments, tax lawyers do the same for tax groups, and so on.

Read on and have a look at the top three underrated firms in each practice area:

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