Elite Firm Blows Right Through Going Market Rate for Associates

California litigation boutique Dovel & Luner waited more than a month after big law firms started raising salaries for associates before topping everyone else with a first-year pay rate of $215,000.

Above the Law reports that the firm is “a California litigation boutique that specializes in plaintiff-side litigation on a contingency fee basis. The firm has eight lawyers (two of whom are associates), but if you look at their bios, you’ll see a glittering array of top law schools, elite clerkships, and leading Biglaw firms in their backgrounds.”

Their rate for sixth-year associates is $330,000, according to editor Staci Zaretsky.

And Dovel & Luner associates can count on bonuses based on the firm’s success, sometimes rising to as much as $700,000.

Read the Above the Law article.




How Important are Irreparable Injury Provisions in Non-Compete Agreements?

Employers who use non-compete agreements take note: Minnesota courts want to see more than just words in a contract before they will grant injunctive relief against a former employee, warns a post on the website of Dorsey & Whitney LLP.

The article discusses St. Jude Medical, Inc. v. Carter, which arose after Heath Carter left his employer to work for a competitor. The employer filed suit against Carter and the competitor, alleging violations of Carter’s non-compete agreement. The employer sought an order enforcing the terms of the non-compete agreement and prohibiting Carter from working for a competitor in his then-current position. Although the jury found that Carter had breached his non-compete agreement, the court refused to enter an injunction, finding that the employer failed to establish that it had been harmed.

The Minnesota Court noted that “[a] private agreement is just that: private,” and concluded that such contractual language does not, by itself, entitle an employer to an injunction after proving the breach of a non-compete.

Read the article.



Webinar: Best Practices for Impactful Compliance Training

NAVEX Global will present a complimentary webinar titled “Deep Dive: State of Ethics & Compliance Training in 2018” on Thursday, July 19, 2018, at 10 a.m. PDT / 1 p.m. EDT.

The event is designed to show how companies are using their training programs to change employee behavior and positively impact corporate culture. Participants will discuss the most important compliance training benchmarks to use when measuring a program and offer best practices to improve efforts and show ROI to management.

Some of the questions to be explored include:

  • How do I maximize the impact of my (limited) available training hours?
  • How do I gain leadership and audience buy-in, participation and comprehension?
  • What elements and topics are necessary to my training program?

Register for the webinar.



3 Ways Trump’s Supreme Court Pick Could Transform U.S. Labor Law

The Washington Post reports that  President Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court may prove a crucial conservative vote in cases defining protections for gay and lesbian workers, the scope of union organizing and the rights of workers to take their grievances to court, according to labor law experts.

The president selected Brett M. Kavanaugh, a federal judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Reporter Jeff Stein quotes Benjamin Sachs, a labor law expert at Harvard University: “This last term was horrendous for workers. If you are to have imagined a nightmare scenario for workers and workers rights, this would be it. But in those cases, the ruling justices also planted seeds that could lead to further damage against workers.”

Read the Washington Post article.



Halliburton Accused by Government of Harassing Muslim Workers

Energy giant Halliburton failed to act as two Muslim workers in North Texas were regularly harassed about their religion by supervisors and co-workers, the federal government alleges in a lawsuit.

Bloomberg Law reports the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleges Hassan Snoubar and Mir Ali were harassed and otherwise discriminated against because of their national origin. Snoubar is from Syria, and Ali is from India. Both worked for Halliburton Energy Services Inc. as operator assistants, the EEOC says.

Reporter Patrick Dorrian  writes: “The lawsuit continues the agency’s crackdown on employer practices or other workplace behaviors that target workers who are Muslim or Sikh, or of Arab, Middle Eastern, or South Asian descent. Eliminating such discrimination is one of the federal job rights watchdog’s top enforcement priorities.”

Read the article.



Working In-House And Want To Switch Companies? Good Luck!

The playbook for moving between in-house and Biglaw is well known and pretty straightforward, points out Above the Law.

“But if you are working in-house and want to move to an in-house role in another company, well, the playbook is not as clear and the path is a little more obscure. Even though you may be more marketable given your previous in-house experience, the application process can be a challenge,” writes columnist Stephen R. Williams, in-house counsel with a multi-facility hospital network.

He offers a sampling of some of the most common interview questions and some possible honest answers, which could run afoul of attorney-client privilege.

Read the Above the Law column.




O’Melveny Tops in Survey for Firm Culture, Job Satisfaction

Bloomberg Law reports that O’Melveny & Myers has won the “best law firm to work for” in Vault’s 2019 annual quality of life rankings.

Vault polled about 20,000 associates to rate peer firms and their own experiences, writes Bloomberg reporter Elizabeth Olson. They were asked about satisfaction and firm culture, as well as compensation, hours and informal training and mentoring.

Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson held onto its No. 2 ranking in the poll.

Associates described O’Melveny as having a “laid back culture” and “super interesting work,” according to comments.

Read the Bloomberg article.



Port of Seattle Ousts GC Over Workplace Complaint – and Gives Him $500,000 Payout

The Port of Seattle will pay half-a-million dollars to its longtime chief lawyer to leave the agency after investigating a workplace complaint lodged against him, according to The Seattle Times.

Craig Watson had been with the Port for 28 years, serving as general counsel for the past 13 years.

The Port commission voted unanimously to fire him and give him $500,000 as part of a settlement agreement to avoid a potential legal battle over his employment status, reports Mike Rosenberg.

The Port’s executive director wrote in a memo to commissioners that an investigation had been launched after “a recent internal workplace complaint about Craig Watson.” The findings showed “the incident was insufficient to support” the firing, but the executive director and the commissioners “have lost trust and confidence” in Watson’s ability carry out his duties and responsibilities, the director wrote.

Read the Seattle Times article.



Supreme Court Deals Big Setback to Public Unions

Conservatives on the Supreme Court said Wednesday that it was unconstitutional to allow public employee unions to require collective bargaining fees from workers who choose not to join the union, a major blow for the U.S. labor movement, reports The Washington Post.

Reporter Robert Barnes writes that the 5-to-4 decision overturned a 40-year-old precedent and said that compelling such fees was a violation of workers’ free speech rights. The old rule could force the workers to give financial support to public policy positions they oppose, the court said.

“States and public-sector unions may no longer extract agency fees from nonconsenting employees,” Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. wrote for the majority. “This procedure violates the First Amendment and cannot continue.”

Read the Post article.



Female Attorneys Harassed at Big and Small Firms, Survey Shows

Bloomberg Law reports on a survey of mostly female lawyers that sexual harassment, including unwelcome texts, physical contact and bullying, exists at big and small law firms.

The Women’s Bar Association of Massachusetts and the Rikleen Institute for Strategic Leadership conducted the study.

“Nearly 38 percent of respondents said they’d been the recipient of an unwanted sexual email, text or instant message at work. Approximately 21 percent said they’d experienced or witnessed unwelcome physical contact at work,” reported Stephanie Russell-Kraft. “More than two-thirds of those who said they had experienced or witnessed unwelcome physical contact said they didn’t report it.”

Read the Bloomberg article.



Supreme Court Poised to Rule on Trump Travel Ban, Union Fees, Other Cases

The U.S. Supreme Court, winding down its nine-month term, will issue rulings this week in its few remaining cases including a major one on the legality of President Donald Trump’s ban on people from five Muslim-majority nations entering the country, reports Reuters.

“The nine justices are due to decide other politically sensitive cases on whether non-union workers have to pay fees to unions representing certain public-sector workers such as police and teachers, and the legality of California regulations on clinics that steer women with unplanned pregnancies away from abortion,” write Lawrence Hurley and Andrew Chung.

On the subject of collecting fees for union from non-members, the court’s conservatives indicated opposition during arguments on Feb. 26 to so-called agency fees that some states require non-members to pay to public-sector unions.

Read the Reuters article.




Limits to Enforcement of Non-Compete Agreements

A recent decision from the Connecticut Superior Court illustrates the limits to enforcing non-compete agreements, writes Michael LaVelle for Pullman & Comley’s Working Together blog.

LaVelle explains the case’s background: “Typical of non-compete enforcement situations, the plaintiff company learned that an executive employee who had just resigned had been hired by a key competitor. The former employee had signed a ‘Confidential Information, Non-Compete and Inventions Assignment and Assumption Agreement’ at the start of her employment. The company sought to enforce the agreement by obtaining an injunction to prevent the former employee from working for the competitor.”

The court found that by preventing the individual from performing any work or services, whether as an employee, consultant or independent contractor, for any competitor, the agreement went beyond the limits of reasonableness.

Read the article.



Salary Wars Scorecard: Which Firms Have Announced Raises And Bonuses

pay-salary-income-statisticsAbove the Law has updated its extensive list of law firms that have matched Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy’s $190,000 salary scale for new associates, with almost four dozen large firms represented.

The most-recent additions to the list, added on Thursday, include Dechert, Orrick, Akin Gump and Sherman & Sterling, each with pay scales of $190,000 for first year associates and $340,000 for senior year associates.

Those four also offer $5,000 bonuses to first years, and $25,000 to their more-senior associates.

Read the Above the Law article.




Invitation: SCCE’s Compliance & Ethics Institute

The Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics will present its 17th Annual Compliance & Ethics Institute, October 21-24, 2018, in Las Vegas, with top industry experts and professionals from around the world.

At this four-day networking and educational event, participants will gain information they need to effectively manage their compliance programs and mitigate risk, the SCCE says on its website.

At the Compliance & Ethics Institute, participants will:

  • Network with over 1,800 professionals from all industries and 40 countries.
  • Choose from 10 learning tracks, 100+ sessions, and over 150 speakers.
  • Get up-to-date on issues relevant to your current challenges, including global antitrust compliance, cyber security, anti-corruption, and harassment and discrimination prevention.
  • Leave with practical solutions you can immediately put into practice at your organization.

This conference is for compliance and risk professionals and those who work with them in an advisory or partnership capacity. Positions include: in-house and outside counsel, audit managers and officers, consultants, corporate executives, human resource managers, privacy officers, researchers and policy makers, risk managers, staff educator and trainers, and more.

Get more information.



Former Partner Hits Jones Day With Gender Bias Suit

Bloomberg Law is reporting that a former partner in Jones Day’s Silicon Valley office alleged in a suit June 19 that she was kicked out of the firm after raising concerns about its treatment of female lawyers.

The former partner, Wendy Moore, alleged that the firm’s leaders retaliated against her after she voiced misgivings about the firm’s alleged sexist culture, lack of pay transparency, and marginalization of female attorneys, according to reporter Stephanie Russell-Kraft.

“The firm’s male leaders often make sexist comments and rate the attractiveness of female attorneys, paralegals, staff, and officers of the firm’s clients,” Moore’s complaint complaint says. “Business development events, too, often center on degrading stereotypes of femininity and cater to a preference for sports and alcohol.”

Read the Bloomberg Law article.



Take This Fit and Shove It: The In-House Counsel Hiring Process

Hiring - HR- employmentA company’s human resources department has only one criterion for a candidate for an in-house position, but “fit” isn’t the real issue, suggests an Above the Law columnist identified as “a harried in-house counsel at a well-known company that everyone loves to hate.”

Using the pseudonym of “Kay Thrace,” the author recalls her days in Biglaw, when the firm HR team carefully culled thousands of résumés of the ivy elite and organized perfectly balanced recruiting lunches.

“[I]n Biglaw, every single one of us knew that we were only as good as last year’s talent pool, so we had to strive to get the best and brightest. In-house? Not so much.”

It’s different in the business world, however, because “apart from a few basic qualifications (do you have a law degree, are you in good standing, have you killed someone in this state in the last five years, etc.), HR has nothing else to hang their hats on other than fit.”

Forget fit, she writes: “Do you know when you’re being patently misled by the business and are you gracious about rectifying the situation and guiding it to a satisfactory, risk-mitigating conclusion? Yes? You’re freaking hired.”

Read the Above the Law article.




Are Your Employees’ Electronically-Signed Agreements Enforceable?

Drew York, writing in Gray Reed & McGraw’s Tilting the Scales blog, offers some advice on how to “failsafe” electronic agreements with employees.

He describes a scenario in which a company requires its employees to electronically acknowledge receiving, reviewing and agreeing to abide by the company’s employee handbook. One of the workers later is injured on the job, and the company wants to invoke the handbook ‘s arbitration agreement.

“In several recent cases, employees have disputed that they electronically acknowledged an agreement with their employer,” writes York. “This raises an intriguing question: how do employers prove that an employee ‘signed’ an agreement when there is no written signature?”

Read the article.



Two Proven Ways to Measure Your Compliance Program

ComplianceNAVEX Global recently released two of its annual industry-leading benchmark reports. With data from more than 1,200 respondents, these reports provide analysis of today’s compliance challenges relating to policy management and hotline reporting.

The company says the reports illustrate how best-in-class programs are reducing legal, reputational and regulatory liability, and get expert advice to help improve a compliance program.

The reports are:

1) The 2018 Policy & Procedure Management Benchmark Report uncovered the four essential elements that the most effective policy management programs have in common. The report also showcases best practices for policy creation and distribution, how organizations ensure employees understand and adhere to policies, and how the recent DOJ advice impacts compliance programs.

2) The 2018 Hotline & Incident Management Benchmark Report shows employee complaint and misconduct reports are rising—and a surprising 44 percent of all reports are substantiated. However, cases are taking longer than ever to close, leading employees to feel unheard and be more likely to report externally—ultimately causing missed opportunities to mitigate risk and reputational damage. Get best practices from the experts to help you encourage internal reporting.



VA Nurses’ Class-Action Overtime Lawsuit Could Open Door to More Plaintiffs

A lawsuit accusing the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs of failing to pay overtime to nurse practitioners and physician assistants since December of 2006 has been certified as a class action, according to a web post by Androvett Legal Media & Marketing. The certification is listed as an opt-in class, opening the door for more plaintiffs.

Class representatives Stephanie Mercier, Audricia Brooks, Deborah Plageman, Jennifer Allred and Michele Gavin brought the lawsuit on behalf of nurse practitioners and physician assistants from VA facilities across the country. Attorneys estimate as many as 10,000 VA employees nationwide ultimately could be represented in the class action.

According to the lawsuit, nurse practitioners and physician assistants were required to process electronic and computer patient records after work hours using VA facility computers, laptops and sometimes their own personal home computers without compensation. The work is vital to the treatment of patients and is considered mandatory by VA supervisors.

Provost Umphrey attorneys Michael Hamilton of the firm’s Nashville office and Guy Fisher in the Beaumont, Texas, office are among the attorneys working on the lawsuit along with counsel David Cook and Clement Tsao of Cincinnati’s Cook & Logothetis, LLC, Douglas Richards of Lexington, Kentucky and Robert Stropp of Mooney Green, P.C. in Washington, D.C.

“These are medical professionals who are taking care of our veterans,” said Hamilton. “If we aren’t paying them properly, what sort of statement does that make about the importance of caring for those who watched over us and our rights?”

“Ultimately, it’s about patient care,” said Cook. “We need to do our utmost for those who have put on the uniform and defended our rights. And, we can start by properly paying the medical professionals who care for them when they need it.”



Cravath Tops Milbank’s Raises for Senior Associates

The race to top or match big law firms’ salaries for associates took on another twist as Cravath Swaine & Moore announced it will be giving senior associates a hike that brings their compensation to $340,000.

Bloomberg Law reports that figure will beat Milbank,Tweed, Hadley & McCloy’s pay for its top associates by $10,000.

Above the Law has a memo — provided by tipsters — that outlines Cravath’s compensation schedule for associate classes 2017 ($190,000) through 2010 ($340,000).

“Cravath might be late to the game, but now that it’s here, we can expect nearly every other major Biglaw firm to follow. (Sullivan & Cromwell) will be here soon. Skadden, Davis Polk, Debevoise, they’re all coming now. This is the new Biglaw associate salary,” writes Above the Law’s Elie Mystal.

Read Bloomberg Law’s article.

Read the Above the Law article.