Tax Law

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:

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Inside Straight: The Best Things I Heard in 2012″

Marathons and triathlons are so passé. They’re just not thrilling enough; you need an endurance event that’s going to make you feel truly alive. Enter Tough Mudder, a 10 to 12 mile obstacle course designed to test participants’ all-around strength, stamina, mental grit, and camaraderie. This isn’t a race, it’s a challenge, and participants are greeted upon entry with an ominous sign that reads, “Remember You Signed a Death Waiver.”

If you choose to sign up for one of these events, some of the extreme challenges you’ll experience include trudging through a mile of waist-deep mud, sprinting through blazing fire, being submerged in ice water so cold that hypothermia is a real possibility, and running through 10,000 volts of electricity. If that sounds crazy, it’s because it is.

This is the kind of torture that could only have been dreamed up by a former Biglaw tax attorney….

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* Change may be coming soon in light of the Newtown shooting, but any talk about new federal restrictions on guns will hinge on the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Second Amendment through the lens of the Heller case. [National Law Journal]

* Joel Sanders and the Steves are facing yet another “frivolous” lawsuit over their alleged misconduct while at the helm of the sinking S.S. Dewey, but this time in a multi-million dollar case filed by Aviva Life and Annuity over a 2010 bond offering. [Am Law Daily]

* Always a bridesmaid, never a bride: Pillsbury has had the urge to merge since February, and now the firm may finally get a chance to walk down the aisle with Dickstein Shapiro. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* Income-based repayment is a bastion of hope for law school graduates drowning in student loan debt, but when the tax man commeth, and he will, you’ll quickly find out that the IRS doesn’t have IBR. [New York Times]

* Is the premise of graduating with “zero debt” from a law school that hasn’t been accredited by the ABA something that you should actually consider? Sure, if you don’t mind zero jobs. [U.S. News and World Report]

* Daniel Inouye, Hawaii’s Senate representative for five decades and a GW Law School graduate, RIP. [CNN]

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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* Wait, did other people know this Casey Anthony movie was happening and not tell me? With Rob Lowe? How much would you pay to get drunk and watch it with Nancy Grace? [Lifetime]

* In America, poorly parked cars get tickets. In Soviet Russia, poorly parked cars get douches. [Legal Blog Watch]

* Sometimes you can evade consequences associated with evading taxes, and sometimes you can’t. [Going Concern]

* The George Zimmerman defense fund seems to be alive and well… unlike Trayvon Martin. [NPR]

* I feel like it would be great if the NFL took marijuana off of its banned substance list. It’s not like the drug is performance enhancing. [The Nation]

* A leading organization for in-house lawyers weighs in against the sanctions imposed on TD Bank. [Association of Corporate Counsel]

* Don’t forget to add your résumé to the flood for our open positions on Above the Law. At this point, you might want to send a picture to get our attention. Not of yourself, but you know, Twinkies, peep-toed shoes, something that we actually care about. [Above the Law]

* 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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