It appears that Larry Sonsini, chairman and name partner of the high-powered Wilson Sonsini law firm, is a very good golfer. Earlier this year, while playing golf to celebrate his 70th birthday, the legendary lawyer scored a hole in one.
Sonsini isn’t the only one who’s scoring over at 650 Page Mill Road. His partners are doing deals left and right, and the fees are trickling down to the associates, who just scored some nice pay raises.
“Aww, Matt, why do you have to go around giving us a bad name?”
Ever since Matthew Kluger was charged in a massive insider trading case, involving an alleged conspiracy that spanned 17 years and generated more than $32 million in profit, the foregoing question could be asked by many groups: Cornell grads, NYU law grads, Cravath lawyers, Skadden lawyers, and Wilson Sonsini lawyers.
Tonight we can add more groups to the list: Fried Frank lawyers, and gays — specifically, gay dads.
As reported by the Wall Street Journal earlier tonight, Matt Kluger worked at yet another major law firm: Fried Frank. After he was fired by the firm in 2002, he sued, claiming that partners there discriminated against him because he’s gay — and a father of three, with parenting responsibilities.
Just when you thought this case couldn’t get any weirder, it just did. Matthew Kluger is gay. And a dad. With three kids. Thanks for sending America such a positive image of LGBT parents, Matt!
Let’s take a closer look at Kluger’s suit against Fried Frank — and additional details about Matt Kluger’s complicated personal life, gleaned from ATL tipsters….
There’s no contest today for Lawyer of the Day honors. The clear winner is Matthew Kluger, a former associate at three leading law firms, who has been charged in a massive insider trading case. Kluger stands accused of reaping more than $32 million in profit over the course of a 17-year conspiracy, which also allegedly involved a trader, Garrett Bauer. (Kluger and Bauer might not be as big as Raj Rajaratnam, who’s pretty hefty, but their supposed scheme is nothing to scoff at.)
The charges were filed by Paul Fishman, U.S. Attorney for New Jersey (disclosure: my former office). Fishman claims that Matt Kluger passed along insider information that eventually made its way, via an unnamed co-conspirator, to Garrett Bauer, who traded on it. According to the complaint, Kluger and Bauer invested more than $109 million in the scheme, which yielded profits of more than $32.2 million.
Where did Kluger allegedly obtain the inside information? From the three Biglaw firms where he once worked on M&A deals….
Last week, Wilson Sonsini was busy shuffling staffers out the door. Today, Wilson Sonsini is proud to announce bonuses for the lawyers — just in case any of them were feeling bad about their recently departed secretaries.
The firm-wide memo just went out; here’s the bonus news:
The firm will pay merit bonuses for FY10 to all eligible non-member attorneys. Continuing with the criteria implemented last year, the merit bonus program provides for hours-based awards to all attorneys in good standing who achieved 1,900 or 2,100 bonus-eligible hours over the course of the 2009 calendar year. In addition to the hours-based component, attorneys also may receive a discretionary amount based on work quality and overall contribution to the firm. …
This year’s total bonuses range from a maximum of $9,000 for eligible associates from the class of 2008 to a maximum of $49,000 for eligible associates from the 2002 and earlier classes.
While the top number is more than the Cravath scale, we have no idea how many lawyers actually exceeded the Cravath bonus. I’ll spare you the familiar rant about the uselessness of providing the high score without mentioning the average payout associates received. Suffice it to say: nobody’s fooled. UPDATE: We now have the full bonus memo for WSGR, which appears after the jump.
Wilson Sonsini also announced salary news today. After the jump, you’ll see that it looks suspiciously like a thaw of one class year.
[A]fter a long and thorough analysis, we have concluded that these changes have made it necessary to downsize the ranks of our staff by approximately 20 employees nationwide, primarily in the secretarial area. We emphasize that the downsizing is a regretful but prudent business decision and no reflection on the skills and performance of the employees involved, who already have been informed of the specifics of this decision. The firm will provide separation pay and support services to help them transition.
It looks like another law firm just got a look at its 2009 profit numbers and found them unappealing. But at Wilson, this is the second year in a row that the new year has brought about new layoffs. In January 2009, Wilson Sonsini laid off 113 people (68 staff) because of the economy. At least this round of New Year’s layoffs isn’t as deep.
In September, Wilson froze the salaries of its secretaries, evidently the firm decided it needed to make a stronger move.
Good luck, Wilson Sonsini friends.
Read the full firm memo after the jump.
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. From our sister site, Going Concern:
[A] judge in Seattle has allowed a revised lawsuit to proceed that lists “Washington Mutual officers and directors, underwriters, and the auditing firm Deloitte & Touche” as defendants.
The revised lawsuit was trimmed down to a “concise” 267 pages from the original 388 that the judge described as “verbose” and “disorganized”.
“Verbose” and “disorganized” would also describe many lawyers we know. On the defense side, though, it’s an all-star cast. From Am Law Litigation Daily:
The lineup for the defendants includes Simpson Thacher & Bartlett attorneys Barry Ostrager and Rob Pfister for former WaMu officers; Ronald Berenstain of Perkins Coie for former WaMu outside directors; Barry Kaplan of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati for former WaMu CEO Kerry Killinger; Peter Wald of Latham & Watkins for Deloitte; and Jonathan Dickey of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher for the underwriters.
It’s been a while since we’ve had any news about how legal secretaries and staffs are weathering the recession. Well, at least no news that pertains to secretaries who are potty trained and don’t care about CHARACTER. To the extent that firms are still looking to make cuts, it feels like they are more focused on more long term moves.
But that doesn’t mean that the domain of the legal secretary is drenched in milk and honey. Yesterday, Wilson Sonsini informed its staff that it was instituting a salary freeze:
To: Staff Employees
From: [Wilson Sonsini]
Date: September 22, 2009
Re: Staff Salaries
Earlier this year, in the midst of an uncertain global economic situation, the firm implemented a salary freeze for associates. The firm always has managed expenses carefully, and we’ve taken an even more cautious approach during the current downturn to ensure that our business remains strong and well positioned for the future. While there are early signs that the recession may be easing, it’s also clear that economic recovery will take some time. Given these factors, it is important to continue our fiscally conservative approach, and therefore the firm is extending the salary freeze to staff at this time.
Thank you for your understanding, and for your continued commitment to the firm.
Wait, Wilson Sonsini hadn’t frozen staff salaries already? Tipsters weigh in after the jump.
We’re now into the back half of the brand new Vault law firm rankings. Just like last year, we worry about a proliferation of “TTT” accusations in the comment threads. But such terms of art can miss the positives of many of the firms in this section of the Vault rankings. Here’s the list:
51. Fulbright & Jaworski 52. Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati 53. Morgan Lewis & Bockius 54. McDermott Will & Emery 55. Alston & Bird 56. Bingham McCutchen 57. Fish & Richardson 58. Dechert 59. Greenberg Traurig 60. Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft
We have already extensively talked about the Morgan Lewis situation. Let’s move on to other firms after the jump.
Today, the Minority Law Journal published its new Diversity Rankings. There was a big change in the publication’s methodology, and that resulted in significant upheaval in the rankings:
All this churn comes courtesy of a new ranking formula adopted after we found ourselves wondering whether our traditional approach to measuring diversity–calculating the overall percentage of minorities within a firm–ignored something significant. Did it really make sense to treat all lawyers of color as essentially equivalent in stature? Should a firm get the same kind of credit for a minority associate as it does for a minority partner? We decided that it was time to start giving more credit to firms that have increased the racial diversity of their partnership ranks. Under our revised formula, we add each responding firm’s percentage of minority lawyers to its percentage of minority partners to come up with a diversity score. This number is a truer gauge, we believe, of what kind of progress a firm is making in hiring lawyers of color at every level, with an emphasis on those at the most senior levels. (Click here for a fuller explanation of our methodology, and a list of firms that did not respond.)
The change knocked Cleary Gottlieb off its long standing perch in the top spot. In its place, Wilson Sonsini claims number one status.
After the jump, additional details from well known firms.
A college graduate without student loan debt is akin to reading a kind quote about Kim Kardashian in a tabloid—it’s rare.
In the past eight years, student loan debt has nearly tripled to a whopping $1.1 trillion, and in the past 10 years, the percentage of 25-year-olds with such debt has risen from 25% to 43%
It’s gotten so bad, in fact, that New York Fed economists warned last month that the burden of student debt could stilt consumer spending by twentysomethings, as well as further hamper the recovery of the housing market and economy.
To get a better idea of what massive student loan debt (we’re talking over $100,000 massive) looks like, we talked to an attorney who graduated with a large student loan debt. We also consulted LearnVest Planning Services CFP® Katie Brewer to see just how their repayment plans stack up.
S. Fischer, 36, Attorney Graduated: 2001
How Much I Borrowed: $100,000
What I Still Owe: $45,000
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Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
Deal flow has clearly picked recently up for most US associates, counsels and partners in Hong Kong/China and Singapore. We are on the phone with a lot of these folks on a daily basis, many of whom we have known for years. Further, the head of our Asia team, Evan Jowers, and Kinney’s founder and president, Robert Kinney, frequently meet in person with leading US partners in Asia to assess their needs and keep on top of the inside scoop at as many firms as possible. The need for legal recruiting help in Asia from experienced recruiters appears to be live and well. In March, Evan and Robert were in Beijing at such meetings, in April, Evan was in Hong Kong, and for half of June Evan will be in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Thus its pretty easy for us to tell when there has been an across-the-market pick up in capital markets and corporate work.
On an average day in Asia when Evan and Robert visit firms, they typically have 5 to 9 meetings a day, mostly with US partners in the market. The reason they have these meetings is not simply because Kinney makes a lot of US attorney placements in Asia and that a particular firm may have openings; instead these are just visits with friends. After years of working together as business partners, the folks at Kinney are actually these peoples’ friends. The firms Kinney work closely with in Asia (which is just about every law firm – call us if you want to know the one firm in the world we will never place anyone with again, ever, and why) look forward to the visits, or at least act like they do. After seven years in the market, many of the client partners are former associate candidates. Also, these US partners see Kinney as a very good source of market information as well, because they know how deep their contacts are in the market and how frequently they are speaking to counterparts at peer firms.
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