Wall Street

There was a time in this country where the holiday season was a time to be rewarded for a good year of work. People received bonuses. People received pay raises, so their salaries could keep pace with their growing experience and maturity (or at least keep up with inflation).

The America where that kind of stuff happened now only exists in memory. In post-recession (or mid-double-dip-recession) America, the holidays are a time when the people at the top jealously guard their wealth, while everybody else tries to figure out how to make “sacrifices” for the greater good.

Usually, this type of thing can be seen most clearly in the private sector (click here for Above the Law’s coverage of bonus season). But today the Obama administration is getting into the holiday spirit by freezing salaries on federal employees for two years.

So, if you’re a J.D. holder who joined the Department of Justice or another federal agency to escape the Biglaw recession, the pay cut you thought you were signing up for just got bigger.

And it probably also means that a few federal attorneys will be trying to get back into the private sector — which will be great, because it’s not like the market for attorneys is oversaturated or anything….

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People, here at LEWW we hate reality TV. Really, really, really hate it. It makes us feel bored, uncomfortable, and grossed-out by humanity, all at the same time. We can watch sports, which we suppose is “reality” in some sense, but other non-scripted programming sends us lunging for the remote. Dancing with the Stars? Gagging at the concept. Jersey Shore? Never seen it; sounds appalling. Even the Food Network is too real for us.

And of course, just thinking about those reality wedding shows makes us break out in hives. That said, we are going to be all over the upcoming royal wedding. Step back, Chelsea, this one is going to be the real deal, and LEWW is already counting the days until April 29. Now, to find a legal angle . . . .

On to this week’s couples. We have four finalists for this special Thanksgiving edition of LEWW:

Audrey Christopher and Trevor Austin

Tali Farhadian and Boaz Weinstein

Susan Ambler and Ashley Ebersole

Allegra Glashausser and Michael Price

Read more about these couples, after the jump.

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* Orrick and Akin aren’t the only two who are talking. The firms of Reed Smith and Thompson & Knight are also in merger discussions. [Am Law Daily]

* A “cite-checking battle” actually sounds… kinda fun. [Laws for Attorneys]

* There’s a motion for leave to amend the complaint in the Robert Wone civil case. [Who Murdered Robert Wone?]

* Why your job is making you depressed. Maybe because it sucks? [CNN]

* Women of Biglaw: think you have it bad? Your sisters on Wall Street may be even worse off. [The Careerist]

* Speaking of women in the legal profession, nominations are now being accepted for InsideCounsel’s Transformative Leadership Awards, which “honor women general counsel and law firm partners who have demonstrated a commitment to advancing the empowerment of women in corporate law.” [SuperConference]

Apparently, Angelina Jolie doesn't have a lot of friends. Aww. Would you be her friend?

* The 9/11 health care bill finally passed the House. Too bad. Not about the bill, the bill looks good. I was just kind of hoping for another epic meltdown from Anthony Weiner. [Salon]

* Could an MBA be even more worthless than a J.D.? [Out of the Storm]

* Real Wall Street types opine on Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. I’m using their input for the screenplay I’m working on, Wall Street: Money Flees America. [Hellerman Baretz]

* Let’s be clear: we need more lawyers. We just need them to work for poor or lower-middle-class clients. Wouldn’t it be awesome if law school tuition came down so that more people could do this work? Otherwise, we might just have to find a way to obviate the need for lawyers altogether. [Truth on the Market]

* Are successful women lonely? [Psychology Today]

* The laws surrounding suicide notes. The subject matter is so depressing that few people, even lawyers and journalists, actually know how to treat these documents. [Legal Satyricon]

You have to hand it to the people at Latham & Watkins. Former employees can bitch and moan all they want about being laid-off, but the firm has a certain kind of “star quality.”

Take this story from this month’s American Lawyer. It turns out that when Oliver Stone needed to figure out what was really going on during the height of the recession, he turned to Latham attorneys Alexander Cohen and Brian Cartwright. The lawyers are at Latham now, but their previous government experience gave Stone the inside knowledge he was looking for.

And because of their efforts, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps will be a much better movie…

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The fantastically successful firm of Goldman Sachs isn’t just “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity.” It also discriminates against women, according to the allegations in a lawsuit filed earlier today.

Three female ex-employees of Goldman Sachs accuse the venerable bank of maintaining an “outdated corporate culture” that discriminates against women in terms of pay and promotions. The Goldman Girls — not to be confused with Betty White et al. — seek class-action certification for a class consisting of all female managing directors, vice presidents and associates in the last six years.

The lawsuit alleges that women are underrepresented in GS management, making up just 14 percent of partners, 17 percent of managing directors, and 29 percent of vice presidents. Given what it means to be a partner at Goldman — the New York Times recently described it as “the equivalent of winning the lottery,” in an interesting article about some GS partners being stripped of partnership (law firms aren’t the only ones who can play that game) — the stakes are high.

That’s the straightforward stuff. Other claims in the lawsuit, as noted by Nathan Koppel of the Wall Street Journal, are “a bit more salacious”….

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If you’re going to generate million-dollar fees, you’re going to need million-dollar clients. And in New York, the self-proclaimed center of the universe, America’s millionaires come to live and mingle. So says the Metro Wealth Index, which has completed its annual report on high-net worth individuals:

New York City continued to top the Index and had more [high-net worth individuals] than the next top three [metropolitan statistical areas] – Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington, D.C. – combined.

The power might have shifted to Washington, the glitz might be in L.A., and the coronary disorders might be in Chicago — but New York still has the money. Lots of it.

And with money comes jobs and clients. Right?

What other cities around the country are faring well in terms of the millionaire count?

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(And what about other cities?)

Partners are on the move, and this time it’s major. Latham & Watkins is losing some serious firepower from its banking group, with the windfall going to Milbank. Am Law Daily reports:

Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy made a rare venture into the U.S. lateral market Tuesday, announcing that it had lured five Latham & Watkins finance partners, including the co-head of Latham’s banking practice group….

Milbank chair Mel Immergut said the Latham hires will have “an enormously positive impact” on his firm’s leveraged finance practice, while the chair of Latham’s New York office released a statement wishing the partners well and assuring everyone that Latham retains “a very deep bench of talent” in New York, the NYLJ reports.

When banking partners are making major lateral moves, it’s got to be a good sign for the legal economy.

While Milbank was relatively restrained in its public comments to Am Law, the internal Milbank memo obtained by Above the Law shows that the firm is eager to crow about its new talent…

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Last November, we scrutinized the compensation of one of America’s best-paid in-house lawyers: Gregory Palm, general counsel of Goldman Sachs. There was some nit-picking from readers about the precise size of his (pay) package, reflected in the various updates appended to the post, but there was unanimity on the main point: serving as Goldman’s top lawyer is a path to riches.

Over the weekend, the New York Times published a long, interesting, behind-the-scenes look at the negotiations between Goldman and the SEC that culminated in the bank’s $550 million settlement — negotiations in which Greg Palm played a leading role. For some good commentary on Louise Story’s article, check out Larry Ribstein (who sees the case as a strike suit that just happened to be brought by the SEC).

What we found most intriguing about the NYT piece — which weighed in at a hefty 3,200 words, as noted by the WSJ Law Blog — was the delicious dish about Gregory Palm’s pay….

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It’s not every day that a partner leaves the storied firm of Cravath, Swaine & Moore. But it’s not every day that a suitor with comparable prestige, wealth, and WASPiness comes calling. Dealbook reports:

Morgan Stanley said on Thursday that it has hired Francis P. Barron, a partner at the law firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore, as its chief legal officer. Mr. Barron will replace Gary G. Lynch, who will remain with Morgan Stanley as a vice chairman in London…. The hiring is the latest management shake-up under James P. Gorman, Morgan Stanley’s chief executive since the beginning of the year.

At Cravath, where he has worked for 32 years, Mr. Barron specialized in litigation, corporate matters and advising boards. Among his clients are financial firms like Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, UBS and Goldman Sachs, as well as General Electric.

Moving from a law firm to Wall Street isn’t uncommon. On New York magazine’s recent list of hottest Wall Street bachelors — co-authored by Bess Levin, of our sister site Dealbreaker, and Jessica Pressler — two out of the 15 “foxes of finance” have law degrees (one from Harvard and one from Seton Hall).

A move at this high a level, from a Cravath partnership to an investment bank, is less common. But such moves happen — and, interestingly enough, Frank Barron isn’t even the first ex-Cravath partner to wind up in a top position at Morgan Stanley….

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