Friday, December 21, 2012

Twas the Night Before Christmas...

Maybe it's not the night before Christmas, but it is the Friday before what will hopefully be the slowest week of the year for you. We hope that you and yours (for those of you that have a yours or want to spend time with them) have an opportunity to step back, slow down, and enjoy putting a bookmark in these pages of your life. We hope you all have received ample bonuses and that you are not making your staff work on Christmas Eve and that you let them out early on New Year's Eve (my secretary made me write that). We hope that your books are all balanced and that your IOLTA accounts are full. Most importantly, we hope that you'll be safe and smart this holiday season: don't drink and drive.

Thanks for joining us this year. We're going to take the week off. In the meantime, if you feel so inclined, let us know what you're thinking, what the latest gossip is, or how we can improve the blog.

Happy holidays everyone!


  1. I read but hardly ever post; I think a lot of people do. Maybe more folks should dive in.

    Thanks for keeping this going. It provides a break in the day to pause here. I wish there were more commenters.

  2. For the first time in my life, I received no Christmas bonus. NONE. NADA. I don't *need* the money to make Christmas happen for my family, it's more of a respect issue. I have received a Christmas bonus at every job I've ever had from the time I was 14 until now, including menial jobs and minimum wage jobs. Makes me regret the early mornings and late evenings I spent at the office working on client crises. That won't be happening in 2012. That time now belongs exclusively to my family. I no longer put out fires.

  3. Respect issue? Unemployment is up...incomes are down...houses are underwater....Bonuses are based upon income ... look at it from your employer's point of view. If they made money, then they should bonus you out if you earned it.

    It sounds like you should find a new job. Good luck finding one.

  4. @ 12:37: While I understand the frustration, may I suggest that you start your own shop in 2013 and then, about December 20, 2013 you can re-evaluate the issue of bonuses to your employees who you hopefully pay well to begin with, pay all year long before you pay yourself each week/month/year and who don't care how much time you spend away from your family making enough money to give them a job to begin with. Then you will understand what it means to put out fires and work a client crisis.

  5. 12:55, 12:37.

    All true. I just never thought I would grow up to have less discretionary income than I did as a college student (with the burden of student loans) and receiving no Christmas bonus. I was better off financially before I went to college.

    It could be worse. I could be unemployed or homeless.

  6. All valid points. Even a $50 gift certificate and an explanation that times are tough would have been enough for me. They just didnt give a bonus and didnt say anything about it.

  7. Did you give your boss a christmas gift?

  8. Yes, I did give my boss a Christmas gift. #firstworldproblems

  9. What's the protocol on that? I'm a first-year associate, so I've never played this game before. I gave my paralegals and assistants little gifts with gift cards, but wasn't planning on giving the partners anything.

  10. The rule in my last office- "no gifting up" that way the secretaries and paralegals didn't feel pressured to suck up and the associates didn't either.

  11. Anyone know why MGM is hiring so many in-house?

  12. @552 - one six figure salary is cheaper than an hourly attorney doing the same work. Lots of companies have/are doing it.

  13. 11:35 - yeah, I realize that.They are hiring so many at the same time I was wondering whether they are adding or if they have a lot of turnover, whether its a good place to work, etc.

  14. THANK YOU to the people who have kept this blog running. I don't post often, but I like to stop by and read whenever I can.

    For the first time I was recently tasked with hiring a new attorney to replace an old one.

    I work in a CA based firm with 100 or so lawyers, but 9 here in LV. My budget for the position is 70 to 80k for someone with 2 to 4 years experience. We are not looking for a book; we will provide the clients.

    Here is what surprised me. There are a lot of young attorneys in their 3rd year of practice who believe they should be making 90 to 100K. Here in Vegas. I don't ask because I don't want to insult anyone, but I really want to know why they think they should make so much. Outside of graduating from some SOL and passing the bar, I don't see anything special on their resumes.

    I think (right or wrong) - If you did well in school, and one of the VERY FEW firms that pay first year lawyers a six figure income in Las Vegas recruited you out of school, than congrats; your hard work paid off.

    For the rest of you: Come back to planet Earth. Your friends are telling you they make more than they actually do, and you're buying into it! Don't make me toss your resume based on unrealistic salary requirements.

    1. Perhaps you should lead with the salary range, rather than requiring candidates to give you "salary requirements." It's just BS anyway. As an example, I may be looking to leave my current fim soon. In order for me to leave, my new firm must provide a better environment, which may include a bump in salary. So my salary requirements are "more than I earn now." My current earnings, of course, are none of your business.

      So what do I put as a salary requirement that won't get my resume tossed? "Commensurate with experience"? "Negotiable"? Or do I put down my opening offer, expecting further negotiation once we decided the firm and I were a good match?

  15. Does anyone know why David Francis got suspended?

  16. Does anyone know why David Francis got suspended?

  17. Read for yourself: Supreme Court case no. 60134. The emails from his client are particularly funny.

  18. Just read the Francis briefs. Vance was/is clearly a wacko client from hell, but that's no excuse for forgery/false notarization (you can bet that Vance is pounding his chest back in North Carolina taking credit for this). I wonder what the ultimate discipline will be for him.

  19. December 24, 2012 6:03 PM - All will depend on whether you have a book or how large it is. Absent that, I can assure you that your current salary is very much the business of any potential new law firm. Certainly my clients would want to know that. If you are firm that you will not leave for less than x dollars, the it would seem both obvious and simple that you would so indicate.

    I wouldn't concern yourself about revealing your hand too soon and thus leaving too many dollars on the table during salary negotiation. Most of the high powered (or at least media powered) career consultants and best selling career advice books notwithstanding, without a transportable book or more accurately, one of any substance, most attorneys don't really have that much negotiating power anyway. The consultants and books are usually pontificating about careers outside the law and don't understand the unique business model. A sports agent would get it. No Heisman trophy (or a good portfolio of clients, somewhat the same thing) and you pretty much work for scale. Are there exceptions. Sure. A lot? No.

  20. Not a Francis fan and definitely think the whole notary situatation sounds bad in the briefs. (Like maybe he questioned whether he really had authority?)

    Still, I can't help but feel sorry for him for having to deal with such a lunatic of a client. Sounds like Vance was basically trying to extort him to reduce or waive his fee. The emails also sounded like Vance was trying to put the squeeze on Franis to reduce or waive his fee.

    Maybe Vance knew that the State Bar generally doesn't allow liens for attorney's fees on contingency cases that are dropped by the attorney. In other words, after Vance had taken the case as far as it was going to go he was trying to find a way to cut out his attorney. I bet David wishes he would have just dropped the case now.

  21. OK so I get my renewal for the State Bar and discover that the Nevada Law Foundation has been renamed: "Justice League of Nevada."

    Are you kidding me? The State Bar has an organization called the "Justice League"? Nobody in the course of this renaming thought "Justice League, Justice League....hmmmmm that name sounds familiar and sort of cartoonish."

  22. Justice League of Nevada. [sigh]

    First question that comes to mind is who's the pop culture free wonk that's so ivory tower that he came up with that idea irony free?

    Second question that comes to mind is when will the State Bar begin to figure out that only a drunk lottery winner is going to give them any more money until they change the name back? My guess is when they admit that the State Bar website redesign is an abomination and no one can stand it.

    Don't hold your breath...

    As my wife would say, "do they not have people?"

  23. Shark Pimp:

    Here's the problem, though. There is no recognizable scale out there. If I look at myself and say "I'm not a superstar rainmaker, but I am profitable to my firm" how exactly do I translate that to salary requirements for a different firm? Or, taken another way, how do I know if a prospective firm is lowballing me, expecting me to counter vs. genuinely providing a salary that is decently within their budget? I know young attorneys with no book have very little negotiating power. But what little they do have is based on knowledge of the market, and I don't see a solid reason why they need to give that up by providing upfront salary numbers. Take a look at the jobs that are currently posted at the SBN's website:

    Atkin Winner & Sherrod - Associate Attorney (2-5 years)

    Lionel Sawyer & Collins - Associate (doesn't say who they're looking for)

    Pite Duncan, LLP - Associate Attorney (0-2 years)

    Marks Law Group - Associate attorney (1-4 years)

    Fennemore Craig - Commercial Transaction Associate (2-5 years)

    Gibson Arnold (4 years)

    Solomon Dwiggins & Freer, Ltd. - Associate, (4-6 years)

    Most of these firms aren't exactly in NALP. They don't advertise the salary of anyone in their firm, let alone when a lateral could expect. They do very different work. So how much should a 3rd year be making? What's the scale, assuming no book of business, as 12:22 isn't looking for one?

  24. 11:20 - LSC used to be listed on NALP and used to have its starting salary listed on its website. In 2007 new associates right out of school started at 110 but of course that was at the peak right before the crash. Don't know what they pay now or if this information is of any use, but for whatever it's worth...

  25. It seems like the bigger name firms in Vegas pay about 105-120K to first years, and about 5k to 15k more a year after that. I'd expect LSC and FC to fall in to that category.

  26. Sadly, I did know what LSC's salary range was a few years back. It was one the things I looked into before law school. I thought, "Wow! I could make 100k as a first-year associate, and something similar for working over the summer? Awesome!" There was no WWL to warn me about ATMS, no LVLL to discuss the salaries I wouldn't be making.

  27. 10:38 - I think salaries across the board are lower these days, especially for first years.

    I could be wrong, but I do know that firms across the board have lowered their rates. There are good firms doing insurance work for $135 per hour now. I also know of more than one firm that takes 15/20 insurances cases on flat fees. Private clients can no longer justify $650 per hour to their boards anymore.

    Not to mention the big firms are cutting back. But in the end, there are not many big firms in town. A six figure first year salary is rare.

  28. I'm pretty sure BHFS was offering 115-120k to first years as of a month ago. If that's what BHFS offers, LSC has to be at least in the same ballpark.

  29. December 28, 2012 11:20 AM - You bring up a good point and I don't have the best answer to the question of how to respond to a question of salary expected. My predominate point was about whether to reveal your salary, because no reputable firm is going to hire you without confirming it anyway.

    As to salary requirements, you're right, it is difficult, because over two dozen Las Vegas firms used to list with NALP, now it's down to seven. As a VERY rough rule of thumb, assume that general commercial firms are all within about 15% plus or minus of each other. Then assume that the high volume commercial firms are about the same with an overall range about 25-30% less than the general commercial firms. Retail firms are usually about on a par with the County Counsel's office.

  30. @ December 24, 2012 12:22 PM

    I used to work for a CA based firm that had the same attitude as yours - all young attorneys should work for free (or cheap). The CA partners at the CA based firm took no interest in looking at the local market (which as you can tell from the comments is widely varying), and when I pointed out to them what their local competitors were paying, they did not want to hear it.

    I don't have the answer to your post, but I, for one, am tired of CA based firms thinking that NV attorneys are schmucks and should just be thankful to have a job (which was my prior firm's attitude even during the boom times).

    Frankly, just because your CA based partners set a budget does not mean that the budget is necessarily realistic.