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Wake Up Call: Half Dozen Firms Match Davis Polk on Bonuses

March 30, 2021, 11:47 AM

In today’s column, U.S. News & World Report released its law school rankings today after several last-minute changes; Hogan Lovells launched a new corporate & finance legal service center in Kentucky; Husch Blackwell’s investigation of sexual misconduct at Louisiana State University spurred school official exits.

  • Leading off, at least half a dozen firms told associates Monday they will get special bonuses this year totaling up to $64,000, depending on year of seniority. White & Case, Cravath Swaine & Moore, Latham & Watkins, Lowenstein Sandler, Weil Gotshal & Manges, and Wilson Sonsini are among the at least two dozen firms that to date have matched the bonus scale recently set by Davis Polk & Wardwell, although some firms attach billable hour requirements to get the money. (Above the Law)
  • Willkie, Farr & Gallagher, which started the spring bonus announcements March 19, offering up to$40,000 based on seniority, has now matched the Davis Polk scale, according to reports. Most of the firms have said they will pay out bonuses in spring and fall installments. For White & Case, the payout dates are June 28 and December 28, with most of the cash to come on the later date. (Above the Law)
  • Blank Rome Monday formally announced its national environmental, social, and governance team, which it said started advising clients last year. Morgan, Lewis & Bockius last week said it added a four-lawyer philanthropic and not-for-profit organizations team from Patterson Belknap in New York to expand its ESG practice. They’re the latest of several Big Law firms that have recently launched such practices as ESG matters become increasingly important for corporations and investors around the world. (Barrons)
  • U.S. News & World Report released its 2022 Best Law Schools ranking today. As usual, Yale, Stanford, Harvard, Columbia, and the University of Chicago, in that order, make up the top five. (U.S. News) Georgetown University Law was bumped from the top 14 by UCLA Law. Northwestern University dropped three places to No. 12, according to an outside analysis. (Above the Law) (Spivey Consulting Group) One big difference this year: U.S. News had to change its ranking criteria three times before release because of various problems, and those tweaks caused shifts in the rankings. (Law.com)

Lawyers, Law Firms

  • Hogan Lovells said it launched a corporate & finance legal service center in Louisville, Kentucky, aimed at “providing efficient, cost effective service by combining advanced legal technology and real world experience.” The center will provide dedicated service to the firm’s corporate & finance practice, initially focused on due diligence analysis for M&A, capital markets and other transactional matters, and review services. The firm said the service is located on the same premises as the global business service team it started in 2016, when several firms moved back-office functions to low cost locations. (HoganLovells.com)
  • Meanwhile, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Allen & Overy, and Akin Gump, are among several major firms that have been expanding their relationships with alternative legal service providers for document review, assistance with project management and other “everyday legal work,” to free up firms’ lawyers to work on higher value tasks. (American Lawyer)
  • Husch Blackwell’s investigation of sexual misconduct at Louisiana State University led to the departures of a university president in Oregon, and a football coach and an athletic director in Kansas, according to a report. (Austin Business Journal)
  • Marc Kasowitz, one of former President Donald Trump’s go-to personal attorneys, and law firm Kasowitz Benson Torres were hit with a $60 million legal malpractice suit by the former head of Republic Records, Charlie Walk. Walk accuses Kaswowitz of mishandling #MeToo sexual misconduct allegations against him in 2018, which he said caused him to leave the Universal Music Group unit. (Music Business Worldwide)

Laterals, Moves, In-house

  • Cooley added O’Melveny & Myers corporate counsel Yiming Liu as partner in Shanghai in its global capital markets practice. (Cooley.com)
  • With the Biden administration looking to increase regulatory activity on banks, Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft grabbed Wells Fargo managing counsel Dan Meade as a partner in the firm’s financial regulatory practice in Washington. Meade, a former senior counsel to the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services and counsel to the Federal Reserve System board of governors, is the latest in-house lawyer to exit Wells Fargo in the wake of its fake account scandal. (Cadwalader.com)

To contact the correspondent on this story: Rick Mitchell in Paris at rMitchell@correspondent.bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com

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