Where The Money’s At:

May 29, 2008

Litigation powerhouse Williams & Connolly raised associate salaries this year by untold margins, although sources close to the firm report the numbers break down along lines like these:

  • First year associate yearly salary: $180,000.00
  • Second year associate yearly salary: $195,000.00
  • Third year associate yearly salary: $210,000.00
  • Fourth year associate yearly salary: $230,000.00
  • Fifth year associate yearly salary: $250,000.00
  • Sixth year associate yearly salary: $270,000.00
  • Seventh year associate yearly salary: $290,000

While nobody in human resources with W&C has yet confirmed this pay scale, the firm has long been known for both paying above-market starting salaries and doing away with year-end bonuses.

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Defending Democracy: The Wall Street Journal

May 27, 2008

Today’s Wall Street Journal has the good sense to come out on the correct side of the Dartmouth College case (today’s, not Daniel Webster’s) mentioned below.  The entire column is available here. An excerpt is below:

Daniel King, ’02, sums it up well. Mr. King describes himself as “an openly gay man, a teacher, a card- carrying member of the Democratic Party, the ACLU, and the Human Rights Campaign.” In an essay   posted online, he puts it this way: “The real battle going on is one between an overly paternalistic College administration, supported by a rubber-stamp Board of Trustees that has totally abdicated its oversight responsibilities – and, on the other side, loyal alumni from all sides of the political spectrum who wish to not see the value of their Dartmouth degree plummet and to preserve the historic and unique ties that alumni have to our alma mater.”


Watering Holes: Humphrey’s

May 26, 2008

3700 Laclede, St. Louis, Mo. 63108

(314) 535-0700

For more than 30 years Humphrey’s has served St. Louis, and St. Louis University in particular, with a combination of good pub food, live music, incongruous decor, oversized bartenders, and cheap beer.  Opened in 1976 by Jan and Robert “Humphrey” Mangelsdorf, this St. Louis institution is best know for its Wednesday night “penny pitchers,” boisterous crowds and nostalgic ornaments (including vintage concert posters behind the massive central bar rumored to cary insurance of over $20,000). 

Humphrey’s scene is collegial: wood and moldings prevail and the normal atmosphere is a mix of cigarettes, warm beer and bodies.  Ruggers gather after games on SLU’s nearby fields, mixing with college students returning from out-of-state schools for summer vacation, and SLU students, undergraduate and graduate.  Bartenders tend toward the bearish; the family’s three sons have all taken turns behind the bar, with Bob Mangelsdorf currently manning the helm: each son left his mark on Chaminade sporting fields, notably football and hockey, prior to his time at the bar.  Andrew Kofron, veteran doorman, counts the bar’s congenial atmosphere, large circle of regulars and dead-on soundtrack as chief draws. Deer and gazelles have lent their heads and stately racks to the walls; the outdoor patio is a summertime staple with its own bar and stage.

Humphrey’s iconic mascot has long been a stodgy old man in tails and bowtie, the “Humphrey’s Man,” “known and respected by all.”  His origins are unclear. 

While safely ensconced on Laclede today, Humphrey’s future wasn’t always so clear: years ago the tavern was pressured by developers to sell and then-SLU student Jim Swift took it personally.  Swift’s website, Save Humphreys.com, was developed and quickly registered over one million hits. Local Greeks Tau Kappa Epsilon and Sigma Kappa sorority stepped in alongside SLU alumni groups and St. Louis radio station Z107.7 FM to promote “Save Humphrey’s” t-shirts. Public support saved the bar and Swift signed on as a doorman; he still maintains the official Humphrey’s website. 

Jim Swift, on Z 107.7 FM


Dartmouth College: Parity Imperilled

May 24, 2008

Hanover, New Hampshire has lately begun its own legal education: attorneys, state representatives, and judges have all come out on various sides, and to various degrees, for and against a lawsuit filed by Dartmouth College’s Association of Alumni against the College itself, alleging that recent plans by its Board of Trustees are in violation of a century-old legal compact between school and alumni which guarantees alumni the right to elect half the school’s Trustees.

A little background:

1891 meant tough times for Dartmouth College: financially in shambles, it turned to its famously loyal alumni for support. Men came forward from across the country to help rebuild the school and were given the right to elect half of Dartmouth’s Trustees in recompense.  The arrangement, known as parity, held strong for over 100 years. For every seat available for election, College administrators regularly proposed a slate of hand-picked rubber stamp candidates, culled from the loyal ranks of administrative sycophany; men and women who never outgrew their need for the teacher’s gold star.  These slates often competed with alumni-nominated “petition” candidates, drawn from the democratic masses.

Three straight petition candidates won Board seats in the last several years. Administrators attempted to force a new alumni governance constitution down their constituency’s collective throat and were defeated at the ballot box; a fourth petition candidate (Professor Stephen Smith, of UVA Law) rolled to victory, solidifying a minority voice on the Board (ironically termed, since it represented the majority of alumni, as evidenced by its democratic majority in elections, in its vocal support of athletics, Greek houses, classical liberal arts courses, and an emphasis on undergraduate teaching). 

Predictably, Dartmouth administrators reacted poorly and current Board members sought, by a shaky majority, to enlarge the Board. The new seats would be filled with selected, rather than elected, Trustees.  Basis for the selection of the would-be Trustees was murky; these new candidates would be picked and seated, ensuring that petition candidates would never be able to overcome a 2-1 voting deficit on the Board. Alumni attacked the move as back-dealing, underhanded, anti-democratic and, above all, in direct and illegal violation of the 1891 contractual guarantee of parity.

Today:

Dartmouth’s Association of Alumni, an independent body with the power to take action on behalf of its members (all living alumni – membership is automatic with graduation) recently filed suit against the College itself, alleging the board-packing is illegal in that it constitutes a breach of contract. Their argument: the College offered parity in exchange for financing. Alumni delivered financing, the College delivered parity… and now seeks to retract it, following over 100 years of precedent and good faith dealings. 

New Hampshire civil courts have already dismissed a College motion to throw the suit out; a local judge found the suit sufficiently with merit and legal precedent to continue.

Both sides have engaged expensive lawyers: the College has chosen to outsource the matter, bypassing in-house counsel Robert Donin in favor of  Richard Pepperman II, a former clerk to Chief Justice William Rehnquist and currently a partner in the New York office of litigation powerhouse Sullivan & Cromwell.


A Confederacy of Dunces

May 23, 2008

The St. Louis University School of Law, hoary bastion of Missouri advocacy, is know for its Jesuit heritage and deep roots in the St. Louis, Mo. legal community.  Alumni include top-notch barristers, politicians, local and national influencers, professors and noted scholars. Highly respected and oft-published educators comprise its faculty; apt administrators its deanships. Not so in the Office of Admissions. 

My experience with these functionaries includes improperly-addressed admissions offers, rescinded admissions offers, partial admissions offers, one remarkably rude (and incompetent) office assistant who assured me repeatedly the letter she just mailed to my former Boston residence hadn’t actually been mailed to Boston, assistant deans who don’t seem to talk to each other, conflicting deadlines and finally, in an example bordering on laughably inept, my being mailed a complimentary pen that arrived both out of ink and broken in half.

I’m slated to begin law school this coming August; I wouldn’t be surprised to show up the first day and be directed to the supply closet where, due to cosmic but unsurprising mix-ups, I will be expected to start work as either a janitor, professor or mascot.