A daily look at legal news and the business of law:

First-Year Associates Making $160,000
This blog often writes about big law lawyers getting laid off, and while it's important to remember the economy is hurting highly skilled white collar labor -- it's not all about lost manufacturing jobs -- some perspective can be helpful. Above the Law has a memo from firm Orrick, Herrington and Sutcliffe detailing total compensation paid to associates at the firm as compared to their competitors. And in short, before getting laid off, big law lawyers were making bank. (When reading the numbers, consider that the most recent census data available show the average salary in Manhattan -- the place legal compensation is generally highest -- was $79,500. And that average is surely much higher than the median wage, a more relevant number to most workers, given the big law and Wall Street salaries on the high end.)
Orrick Associates were grouped into three tiers based on seniority, without specifying how many years were in each tier. But a good guess is that Associates had been at the firm three years or less, Managing Associates four to six years, and Senior Associates seven or more.

According to the memo, Orrick Associates' total compensation started out at the market-wide minimum of $160,000, and ranged up to $194,000, just below the market-wide max of $200,000. Managing Associates started at $185,000 and topped out at $290,000, better than the market-wide max of $280,000. Senior Associates started at $250,000 and maxed out at $362,000, significantly higher than the market-wide max of $310,000. Of course, partners often make $1 million-plus a year at big firms.

Legal Secretaries Allegedly Getting Shafted On Pay
A few days ago, I noted President Obama's budget calls for cracking down on worker misclassification, one form of which is labeling workers who aren't managers as such, and as a result denying them overtime pay they are entitled to. Well, perhaps the Obama administration should look at law firms. Turocy & Watson, an Intellectual Property boutique, is being sued by 40 legal secretaries for failing to pay them overtime. And Turocy & Watson likely isn't alone in allegedly stiffing staff of earned overtime, suggests the National Law Journal article. The article cites a management-side law firm partner, who says that many companies, including some of his law firm clients, believe that "paying someone a salary automatically exempts them from overtime. It doesn't."

Morgan Lewis & Bockius 2009 Numbers Aren't Pretty
The Morgan Lewis & Bockius 2009 numbers are in, and they're not pretty. Revenue's down 5%, profits per partner are down 15%, 55 attorneys were laid off, mostly associates, and 55 associate hirings deferred. With the layoffs and deferrals and surely other cost cutting, why did profits per partner plunge so steeply? Morgan Lewis hired new partners -- 6% more.

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