We have been tracking — as have other news outlets, such as the New York Times — which leading law firms offer the perk we’ve nicknamed the gay gross-up. If you’re inclined towards formality, you can call it the “tax offset for domestic partner health benefits.” For an explanation of what this perk is all about, read this prior post.
Since our last round-up, additional prominent law firms have adopted this policy. Let’s check out the latest list….
UPDATE (9/7/11, 12:30 PM): We’ve added to our list since it went up yesterday.
* Professor Carlton Larson has a great new paper exploring possible constitutional limitations on state laws regulating baby names. Could parental rights to name a child “Dumb Motherf**ker,” “Preserved Fish,” or “Latrina” be protected by the First Amendment? [SSRN via Legal Blog Watch]
* Speaking of the Wise Latrina, Justice Sonia Sotomayor is a fan of bipartisan seating at the State of the Union. Her colleagues’ email skills? Not so much. [How Appealing]
* Illinois law professor Larry Ribstein on the Rahm Emanuel ruling: “Illinois law is better interpreted to say that before a Washington pol runs again in the midwest he needs some time reacquaint himself with the real world.” [Truth on the Market]
* Congratulations to DLA Piper, which will become the world’s largest law firm after a merger Down Under. [Bloomberg]
* And congratulations to former DLA partner Ted Segal — he’s moving over to regional firm Stradley Ronon, in part because of client concerns over billing rates. [Washington Business Journal]
* Wow, that was fast. Rep. Dennis Kucinich has already settled his lawsuit over olive-triggered dental damage. [Dave Weigel / Slate]
* A state transit agency in Virginia that has paid Williams Mullen more than $6.5 million over the past five years might be shifting legal work away from the firm. [Virginian-Pilot]
* You can call Above the Law “the most worst legal website published in the State of New York,” and we won’t sue you for defamation. (Cue jokes about truth as a defense in 3, 2, 1….) [New York Law Journal via ABA Journal]
Or make that a cucumber of one. Remember this allegation, from the lawsuit filed by former case manager Hanh Nguyen Allgood against the prominent Richmond law firm of Williams Mullen?
When the [office elevator] doors closed, [partner] Robert Eicher pretended to be sad and depressed. He asked Allgood for a hug. When she complied, he pressed his genital area against Allgood’s left thigh. Allgood felt something hard pressing against her thigh and attempted to pull away from him. Eicher held Allgood tighter to prevent her from pulling away, and pressed his genital area against her thigh even harder. Allgood was horrified. She pushed him away and stepped back. In response, Eicher laughed and pulled a cucumber out of his pants pocket.
We’re sorry to disappoint all you lovers of law firm gossip, but sadly, we won’t be hearing testimony in open court about the cucumber incident….
Last year, prominent Richmond law firm Williams Mullen was hit with a lawsuit from a former employee alleging racial discrimination and sexual harassment. It was a juicy one — cucumber juicy.
Vietnam native Hanh Nguyen Allgood, 53, who was a case manager for the firm, claimed that a partner rubbed up against her in an elevator with a surprise in his pants:
When the doors closed, Robert Eicher pretended to be sad and depressed. He asked Allgood for a hug. When she complied, he pressed his genital area against Allgood’s left thigh. Allgood felt something hard pressing against her thigh and attempted to pull away from him. Eicher held Allgood tighter to prevent her from pulling away, and pressed his genital area against her thigh even harder. Allgood was horrified. She pushed him away and stepped back. In response, Eicher laughed and pulled a cucumber out of his pants pocket.
Eicher also allegedly asked inappropriate questions about her vajayjay:
Litigation partner Robert Eicher bears the brunt of Allgood’s sexual harassment allegations. According to her complaint, he asked when he first met her whether “her vagina was vertical or horizontal,” a reference to “a horrible racial slur bandied about by some American soldiers during the Viet Nam War contending that Vietnamese women had vertical vaginas.”
Um, aren’t all hoo-has vertical?
In an article about another Williams Mullen employee suing the firm, Richmond’s Style Weekly provided some updates on the case from Allgood’s attorney. Williams Mullen was not pleased. Reports an ATL reader:
No oral in Cucumber-Gate, per the new gag order.
What was it that Williams Mullen couldn’t swallow?
Williams Mullen is a prominent Richmond-based law firm that is “100 years strong,” according to its website. For 18 of those years, Vietnam native Hanh Nguyen Allgood, 53, was a case manager for the firm. She left in March 2007.
Apparently, the departure was not “all good” with her. She has filed a $950,000 lawsuit against the firm, alleging discrimination and sexual harassment, according to Style Weekly.
Litigation partner Robert Eicher bears the brunt of Allgood’s sexual harassment allegations. According to her complaint [PDF], he asked when he first met her whether “her vagina was vertical or horizontal,” a reference to “a horrible racial slur bandied about by some American soldiers during the Viet Nam War contending that Vietnamese women had vertical vaginas.”
And then there was the cucumber incident….
UPDATE: A statement from the firm has been added after the jump.
Williams Mullen, the large and prominent Virginia-based law firm, announced yesterday that it will be cutting associate salaries by 7.5 percent, effective in January 2010. The new starting salary for associates will be $117,000 (in all offices other than D.C.).
A firm spokesperson described this as “a business decision,” made to remain competitive in a rapidly changing market. She added that the Williams Mullen cut was comparable to steps taken by similar firms, including Hunton & Williams and McGuire Woods (which cut starting salaries for associates by 10 percent). [FN1]
“Our clients are saying, ‘You better do this,’” the Williams Mullen spokesperson said. “This is a market adjustment just like any other adjustment, just like any other business adjusting the cost of its product.” If the firm were to keep associate salaries the same in this economic environment, “our clients would look at us and say, ‘You’re no longer competitive.” She added that equity partners would also see a decline in their incomes due to market realities.
As for whether this cut might be revisited at a later date, the spokesperson noted that matching the market goes both ways. “You can adjust down, and you can adjust up,” she said. “When things start to get better, we’ll look at ways to adjust accordingly.”
[FN1] UPDATE: A point of clarification about McGuireWoods: although the firm did cut starting salaries, incoming associates at the firm are still earning more than $117,000. New hires are making $144,000 in Northern Virginia, D.C., Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York, while new hires in Richmond, Charlotte and Atlanta are making $130,500. Earlier: Prior coverage of associate pay cuts
A few months ago, we reported on the saga of Mark Hardman. He was an attorney for the commonwealth in Portsmouth, VA. But he was fired after only five months on the job. He claims that his termination stemmed from his decision to run for public office, against his boss. Back in March, we noted:
[Hardman was fired] most likely because Hardman decided that he should be the boss, after only five months on the job:
“A 27-year-old prosecutor in Portsmouth said he was fired because he plans to challenge incumbent Harvey Bryant for Virginia Beach commonwealth’s attorney.”
Incumbent Harvey Bryant denies the charges.
Hardman’s campaign continues, but it seems that he continues his fight at great personal cost. The Virginian-Pilot reports some difficult circumstances for Mr. Hardman:
The challenger in the race for commonwealth’s attorney hasn’t had a fixed address in the city since June 1 and last month filed for unemployment benefits in Newport News….
“I wasn’t prepared, financially, to lose my job at that point in the election cycle,” he said. “It had an impact on my living situation, and I continued to… take all steps that were necessary to maintain my residency in Virginia Beach.”
Without a job, Hardman said he was unable to sign a new lease in June, and he couldn’t afford the summer rent for his home on 75th Street. That address was the only one on file for Hardman’s residence as of Wednesday at the Beach general registrar’s office.
Hardman said filing for unemployment benefits in Newport News shouldn’t have any effect on his residency. He said he has used his mother’s house as a billing address for about 10 years.
That is the kind of situation that makes standing on the breadline so terrifying.
After the jump, Mark Hardman responds to these reports.
We previously put out a call for juicy info about big-ticket legal fees. Consider that discovery request still pending; you haven’t given us much in response.
Instead, we have to rely upon other sources for information about fees. Like NYU law professor Burt Neuborne’s five-million-dollar tab for his work for Holocaust survivors, reported in the MSM. Or this latest news, from the AP:
Republican Rep. John Doolittle of California paid an attorney more than $38,000 in recent months to talk to the Justice Department in connection with the Jack Abramoff lobbying investigation, new campaign finance reports show.
A spokeswoman said the money was spent after Doolittle asked his attorney, David Barger [of Williams Mullen], to contact the Justice Department “to further express the congressman’s willingness to be helpful and satisfy the Justice Department that the congressman has done nothing wrong.”
Interesting. Barger is a very experienced lawyer and former federal prosecutor. We’re guessing he bills out at $500 an hour (at least; correct us if we’re wrong). That comes out to at least 75 hours worth of work, which is not insignificant. Clearly Barger did more than just have a two-hour sitdown with DOJ lawyers to earn almost $40K in fees.
And Barger isn’t Congressman Doolittle’s only counsel:
The campaign finance report also shows Doolittle paying $13,000 in legal fees to a second law firm, Wiley Rein & Fielding LLP, that he has used regularly for years.
In a land that is right here and in a time that is right now, a technology has arisen so powerful that it can replace basic human document review. Is it time to bow down before our new robot overlords?
First, here’s a little story about me: my life in the legal world began as a paralegal. My first case was a GIANT patent infringement case that was already six years old and had involved as many as five companies, multiple US courts, the ITC and an international standards committee. I knew nothing about any of this.
On my first day, my supervisor (a paralegal with at least eight other cases driving her crazy) sat me down in front of a Concordance database with a 100,000+ patents and patent file histories. “Code these,” she said. I learned that “coding”, for the purposes of this exercise, meant manually typing the inventor’s name, the title of the patent, the assignee, the file date, and other objective data for each document. I worked on that project – and only that project – for at least the first six months of my job. After a week or so, time began to blur.
What I know, in retrospect and with absolutely certainty, is that as time began to blur, so did my judgment. So did my attention to detail. If you could tell me that I did not make at least one mistake a day – one inconsistent spelling, one reversed day and month, one incorrectly spaced title – I frankly would need to see your evidence. I would not believe it. The human mind is trainable but it is not a machine.
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We currently have a number of active openings for associate roles at US and UK firms in HK / China, Singapore and two new in-house openings. As always, please feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com in order to get details of current openings in Asia, as well as to discuss the Asia markets in general and what we expect for openings later this year. Our Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney will be in Beijing the week of March 25 and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong the week of April 1, if you would like to meet them in person.
The US associate openings we have in law firms are in the usual areas of M&A, cap markets, FCPA / white collar litigation, finance, and project finance. The most urgent of our top tier (top 15 US or magic circle) law firm openings in Asia (among many other firm openings that we have in Asia) are as follows:
• 2nd to 5th year mandarin fluent M&A associates needed in Beijing and Hong Kong at several firms;
• Korean fluent 2nd to 4th year cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 5th year Japanese fluent M&A associates needed in Tokyo;
• 4th to 6th year mandarin fluent cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 4th year M&A / cap markets mix associate needed in Singapore.
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