Wachtell Lipton

Non-lawyers are often surprised to learn of the lockstep salary schemes of large law firms and the near-perfect information we have about them. (Recall Kevin Drum’s befuddlement at the bi-modal distribution of law graduate salaries and the “weird cultural collusion” it suggested.) Even annual bonuses are frequently spelled out in what amounts to public memoranda and are typically some variation of the “market” dictated by our Cravath overlords. Of course, there are some “black box” firms and a few gilded outliers such as Wachtell Lipton or Boies Schiller, but generally speaking, the world of large firms practices a degree of relative transparency around compensation that is unsurpassed outside the public sector.

In order to distinguish among firms, we have to look to the margins. For example, law firms vary quite a bit when it comes to paying for the bar and living expenses of incoming associates. Some firms may reimburse for covered expenses after the fact; others may pay some expenses directly to the provider. Some may give a stipend to cover living expenses, whereas others may offer the ability to take out an advance on salary.

Greater transparency (or, at least, aggregated information) on these questions might make one firm’s offer more attractive than another’s, or perhaps even give an offeree some basis for negotiating a package upgrade (but of course tread very lightly there)….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Which Firms Pay The Most Generous Starting Bonuses And Salary Advances?”

Go watch Penn Law students beat the crap out of Wharton MBA students. Yay!

* The Biglaw firm that Chris Christie hired to investigate Chris Christie and the Bridgegate scandal has concluded that Chris Christie did nothing wrong. Phew, Chris Christie couldn’t haven seen that one coming. [BuzzFeed]

* If you were an attorney on the D.C. Circuit case where counsel received an unexpected benchslap for excessive use of acronyms, would you have said OMG WTF, or LOL NBD? Choose wisely, unless you DGAF. [Legal Writing Pro]

* BTW, the D.C. Circuit doesn’t so much forbid the use of uncommon acronyms as much as it requires that a glossary be used to define them. Too bad iPads have killed glossaries. [Maryland Appellate Blog]

* An American failed chef in Paris: One of Lat’s friends from back in the day when he was at Wachtell took a very circuitous route to becoming the first American partner at a top French firm. [The Deal Pipeline]

* If you care at all about how well women and minority law students are represented on law reviews, then you’ll want to come to this important event. I’ll be there, and hope to see you there, too! [Ms. JD]

* It’s getting hot in herre, but please keep on your clothes. Students from Penn Law REALLY want you to know about this weekend’s boxing event. Nelly will be at the after party. [Wharton vs. Law: Fight Night]

* Upskirt photos not illegal in Massachusetts. The spirit of Kennedy lives on! [Mass Live]

* The investigation continues into whether Judge Mike Maggio, who might be the infamous Geauxjudge, suffers from a bad case of the Internet Crazies — but in the meantime, his campaign for the Court of Appeals took a hit. [Arkansas Times]

* Speaking of judicial ethics, Judge Kimberly Brown has been removed from the bench in Indiana. She’s only the third judge ever to be permanently removed from the job. [Indy Star]

* Wachtell Lipton partner Ricky Mason and his wife, Hoboken mayoral candidate Beth Mason, have been charged with several election-law violations. Uh-oh. [PolitickerNJ]

* Which state just ruled that you have a reasonable expectation of privacy in texting… even if you’re texting about a heroin deal? [IT-Lex]

* Dewey love the judge’s name in the Barclays suit over the dead firm’s debts? Yes. Because “Popplewell” is an awesome name. [The Lawyer]

* The data are in, and the top college grads have passed an all-important math test: they figured out law school is a bad deal. [Associate's Mind]

* Yet another Florida law school dean has stepped down. This is what happens when you take a job in a state full of retired people. [Daily Business Review]

* Obamacare has been credited — and bashed — for a lot, but are we underselling its role in reducing prison populations? [Sentencing Law and Policy]

Partnership: Biglaw’s ultimate brass ring.

Becoming a Biglaw partner does not necessarily mean you’ll live happily ever after. It doesn’t even guarantee financial security. Indeed, some partners end up filing for personal bankruptcy.

But that’s an anomalous case. Partnership at a major law firm might not guarantee you happiness — sometimes you have to leave the partnership to follow your bliss — but it generally brings with it tremendous pay and prestige.

That’s especially true of partnership at the nation’s 10 most prestigious large law firms. Most of them have only a single partnership tier — equity or bust, baby — and sky-high profits.

Who are the new partners at these 10 firms, and what do their selections reveal about Biglaw today?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “New Partner Watch: Incoming Partner Classes at 10 Top Firms”

When you read about a multibillion-dollar, highly contested corporate takeover, there’s a decent chance that Wachtell Lipton is involved. The firm, which routinely tops the American Lawyer’s profits per partner rankings and Vault’s prestige rankings, is known for its expertise in mergers and acquisitions.

Charter Communications’ unsolicited $61 billion bid for Time Warner Cable? Yup, Wachtell is on the scene, representing Charter (with help from Kirkland & Ellis). If a deal goes through, count on an eight-figure fee for Wachtell.

And some of that lucre will trickle down to associates. Wachtell Lipton is known for gigantic bonuses, which can match (or even occasionally exceed) an associate’s base salary.[1] And it pays out bonuses in lockstep fashion, without regard to hours (unlike, say, Boies Schiller, another firm famous for its generous bonuses).[2]

How were Wachtell bonuses in 2013? Inquiring minds want to know. Alas, we don’t have the 2013 info (yet) — but here’s what we’ve heard about 2011 and 2012….

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Ronan Farrow: a former Forbes 30 Under 30 honoree turned contest judge.

Since 2012, the list-loving folks at Forbes have been publishing “30 Under 30″ compilations for various fields of endeavor. The 2014 lists just came out, and they include, of course, a 30 Under 30 for law and public policy. We noted the news in yesterday’s Non-Sequiturs.

Such lists generate great traffic, but they also exhibit a somewhat arbitrary character that can be criticized, even mocked. The New Yorker, for example, took inspiration from Forbes to create 3 Under 3: Entrepreneurs, Intellectuals, Toddlers.

A list of notable legal eagles under 30 presents additional problems. Unlike, say, sports or the arts, where people over 30 might already be “over the hill,” law doesn’t lend itself to super-young prodigies. As Miguel Morales of Forbes points out in introducing the list, “It’s never easy for FORBES staffers to sniff out the 30 best and brightest Millennials making an impact on their fields. In law and public policy, where most people are barely out of law school by 30, let alone blazing trails in their fields, the task sometimes felt farcical.”

Whether it’s farcical or not, we know you want to see the list. Let’s have a peek, shall we?

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The Beresford (at right)

Seven years ago this month, M&A lawyer Gregory Ostling was elected to the partnership of Wachtell Lipton, effective January 2007. In our story about the news, we referred to Wachtell as “obscenely profitable and dazzlingly prestigious.”

Wachtell routinely tops the Am Law 100 rankings in profits per partner and the Vault rankings of law firm prestige. In 2011, according to the American Lawyer, WLRK enoyed PPP of $4.975 million.

Because the firm has a single-tier partnership and is fairly lockstep (with just a handful of senior partners off the lockstep), even junior partners at Wachtell do very well for themselves. So maybe it shouldn’t be surprising that a relatively young partner like Greg Ostling just bought not one but two multimillion-dollar apartments at the Beresford — one acquired from a famous athlete, and one from an heiress — which presumably he’s going to combine into a single fabulosity-oozing residence….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawyerly Lairs: Two $3 Million Apartments Are Better Than One”

When you think about it, Snoop has a lot in common with Biglaw partners: no matter what they’re doing, they have their mind on their money and their money on their mind. Or maybe that’s what Snoop has in common with law school deans. In any event, what legal writing is sorely lacking is Snoop’s unique vernacular.

So when we discovered Gizoogle.net — a website that converts web pages into Snoop-speak — we couldn’t help but spend some time converting law school and law firm bios, SCOTUS decisions, and even one of Elie’s ATL articles.

I mean, any site that translates a Supreme Court decision to include, “It aint nuthin but tha nick nack patty wack, I still gots tha bigger sack,” is worth spending a few hours playing around with.

Fo shizzle…

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The Biglaw on-campus recruiting season is a subject of decreasing relevance for most aspiring lawyers, as illustrated by this grim infographic. We are all familiar with the parade of horribles that is the law firm recruitment market, at least from the student point of view. Since the halcyon days of 2007, summer associate class sizes are down at the overwhelming majority of large law firms, often by fifty percent or more. And of course nobody is seriously arguing that class sizes will ever rebound to their pre-recession levels. But 50 percent is not 100 percent; there are still 2Ls who have just made their way through the OCI cattle call.

About a month back, we asked our readers to share their experiences of the OCI process. We wanted to learn where student priorities fall during this era of “New Normal.” For those of you fortunate enough to be in a position to choose among employers, what are the factors driving your decisions? What, if anything, is likely to make you reject an offer? And what, in this unbalanced buyers’ market for legal talent, is the actual interview experience like?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “‘Please Pretend To Care’ And Other On-Campus Interviewing Lessons”

For all the talk of layoffs and worries over an unstable legal economy, Biglaw just keeps getting bigger. Today, the American Lawyer magazine announced its Global 100, a ranking of the world’s 100 largest law firms in terms of total revenue. The view from the top is simple: as we learned from the 2013 Am Law 100, slow and steady does win the race, because Biglaw is at the biggest it’s been in years, and partners’ profits are headed up, up, up.

Now that we’re on the long road to recovery following the recession and collapse of the U.S. financial markets, there are some lessons to be learned from the past five years. Some firms were able to cash in modestly on their success, while other firms buckled under the pressure and were forced to close their doors for good. The game of musical chairs in the top 10 of the Global 100 reflects this economic uncertainty.

DLA Piper is the new top dog in terms of total revenue. Which firms are the leaders of the pack in other metrics, such as profits per partner and attorney headcount?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Bow Before The Global 100, The Top-Grossing Law Firms On The Planet”

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