Business & Practice

Wake Up Call: Associate Pay Stagnates, Despite Cravath Bump

June 2, 2017, 12:17 PM

• Last year’s Cravath-inspired wave of Big Law firms hiking junior lawyer pay to $180,000 does not appear to have benefited first-year associate pay at smaller firms. First-year wages stagnated at a median of $135,000 at firms nationwide, according to new data. ( Law.com )

• An accountant who tipped off the IRS to alleged tax evasion by Caterpillar Inc. stands to make $600 million, which would make him the best paid whistleblower of all time. The company, which faces a huge tax adjustment and possible criminal charges, among other things has hired former Attorney General William Barr of Kirkland & Ellis LLP for advice. ( Bloomberg Businessweek ) Sean McKessy, a former manager of the SEC’s whistleblower office and now a whistleblower attorney at Phillips & Cohen LLP, says that without incentives people just don’t report wrongdoing. So why do whistleblowers get paid in the U.S. but not in Britain? ( Bloomberg Businessweek )

• California’s legislature ended its $25,000 monthly contract with former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s firm, Covington & Burling, for advice on fighting Trump administration policies. State Republicans have criticized the contract, while Democrats vowed to keep working with the firm. ( The Recorder )

• President Donald Trump’s administration asked the U.S. Supreme Court to immediately reinstate his stalled travel ban. The case will give the first indications of how Chief Justice John Roberts’s court will approach one of the most controversial presidents in the nation’s history. ( Bloomberg )

• John F. Manning, a public law scholar on Harvard Law faculty since 2004 will take over as dean from Martha Minnow on July 1, the school said. Manning, the school’s deputy dean since 2013, is a former Justice Department attorney and clerk to former U.S. Justice Antonin Scalia, and was briefly an associate at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. ( BLB )

• A Manhattan federal judge said former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani and ex-Attorney General Michael Mukasey can remain involved in the defense of a Turkish businessman charged with undermining financial sanctions against Iran. That’s because the businessman wants their help, despite potential conflicts of interest raised by work their firms — Giuliani is associated with Greenberg Traurig LLP and Mukasey with Debevoise & Plimpton — representing banks allegedly used by the businessman to launder money through the U.S. financial system for Iran. ( Bloomberg via BLB )


Laterals, Moves, Law Firm Business

• With Big Law white-collar practices churning thanks to new rules that stemmed from the 2008 economic crisis, Covington, Deveboise & Plimpton, Kirkland & Ellis, Zuckerman Spaeder and other firms have recently welcomed back former Obama administration lawyers. And most lawyers passing through the so-called revolving door are finding good money on the other side. ( New York Times DealBook )

• Two firms have hired former senior officials at the Securities and Exchange Commission for their Boston offices. Ropes & Gray said it has hired back Keith Higgins, who left in 2013 after more than 30 years at the firm to run the SEC’s corporation finance division. During his three years working under former SEC chief Mary Jo White, Higgins led rule-making initiatives under the Dodd-Frank and Jumpstart Our Business Startups acts. He returns as chairman of the firm’s securities and governance practice in Boston. ( Bloomberg BNA via BLB )

• Jones Day said it has hired David Bergers as a partner in its securities litigation & SEC enforcement practice in Boston. Bergers spent 13 years at the commission, including stints as acting deputy director in its enforcement division and director of the Boston regional office. Among other things he worked on a team that wrote the rules for the SEC’s whistleblower program. Bergers most recently was general counsel of financial services company LPL Financial, which he joined after leaving the agency in 2013. ( Jones Day )

• In a busy month for lateral hires, Jenner & Block, McGuireWoods, Crowell & Moring and other firms also made big splashes. ( Bloomberg BNA via BLB )



Legal Market

• Fortune 500 companies are hiring more and more women for top lawyer jobs and increasingly finding them via external searches instead of promoting them from within, a new study reports. The study by executive search firm Russell Reynolds Associates finds that women filled 35 percent of new Fortune 500 general counsel jobs in 2016, up from 24 percent in 2012. ( BLB )

• With Uber Technologies Inc. in the market for a new general counsel to replace Salle Yoo, recently promoted to Uber’s chief legal officer, what kind of questions should potential candidates be asking themselves? Private practice attorneys, in-house counsel, legal professors and recruiters gave their views recently on challenges a new GC could face at Uber, which is facing several legal problems. ( National Law Journal )



The Trump Administration

• Fired FBI Director James Comey will testify June 8 before the Senate Intelligence Committee about his dismissal by Trump, as the investigations into whether the president or his associates had improper contact with Russia are shifting toward a dramatic, public phase. ( Bloomberg ) If Trump tries to block Comey from testifying before Congress by invoking executive privilege, we’re in for a wild legal ride. ( Bloomberg )



Trump’s Climate Decision

• What does Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement mean? A Q&A. ( Bloomberg )

• Trump claimed the Paris accord exposed the U.S. to lawsuits, but the pact includes no liability mechanism.“Withdrawal may actually create a greater likelihood of success in lawsuits challenging government inaction” on climate, said Michael Burger, executive director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University. ( FactCheck.org )

• Craig Moyer, at law firm Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, said Trump’s decision means he has used up any bargaining chip he had to renegotiate the treaty. ( Quartz )

• Elon Musk, CEO of electric-car maker Tesla Inc. and founder of SpaceX, said Thursday he will leave two White House advisory councils after the president’s decision to withdraw from the landmark Paris climate accord. ( Bloomberg )

• Other Tech industry giants including Apple, Facebook and Google expressed anger at the decision. ( Recode )



Happening in SCOTUS and Other Courts

• A Whole Foods Market Group policy that forbids employees from recording violates the National Labor Relations Act and could prevent them from exercising their rights, a federal appeals court ruled. Represented by Proskauer Rose, Whole Foods argued that a National Labor Relations Board decision, which the appeals court affirmed, undermines “positive workplace relations that the policy fosters for Whole Foods’ non-unionized employees.” ( National Law Journal )




• Lawyers at Sydney-based corporate law firm Gilbert + Tobin are learning how to write computer code, in an effort to make them more tech-literate. ( Financial Times ) In the Asia-Pacific region, law firms are increasingly open to innovation to meet growing client demand. ( Financial Times )

• Take a look at White & Case’s “awesome” new modern law firm office. ( Above The Law )



Legal Education

• Which are the top 50 U.S. law schools based on the criteria of how many of a school’s graduates actually get jobs as lawyers? ( Above The Law )

• The Law School Admissions Council said it is eliminating a limit on how many times candidates can take the LSAT over a two-year period. It also announced a new testing schedule, and said it will be offering the test six times annually, up from the current four. ( ABA Journal )

• Northwestern University’s Pritzker School of Law in Chicago said it is considering accepting scores from the Graduate Record Examination for admission to the school. The University of Arizona College of Law said last year it will accept either the LSAT or the GRE for admission, and Harvard Law in March announced a pilot program to do so. ( Chicago Tribune )



• California’s judicial disciplinary body publicly reprimanded a judge who used a Facebook post to accuse a prosecutor of sleeping with a defense attorney whose cases she was overseeing. ( Law.com )

Compiled by Rick Mitchell and edited by Casey Sullivan.

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