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A GREEN CHRISTMAS FOR JUNIOR ASSOCIATES They don’t call the Web site “Greedy Associates” for nothing. The popular bulletin board has been abuzz with talk of junior associates earning record bonuses this year. And an informal survey by Legal Timesshows that top first- and second-year associates at D.C.’s large firms will indeed awake Christmas morning with some lovely checks under their tree. So what are the best (or greediest?) young associates being given this holiday season? At Hogan & Hartson, bonuses range from $6,000 to $35,000 for junior D.C. associates. Managing partner J. Warren Gorrell Jr.reports that this year’s bonus pool for associates is nearly double last year’s and that a “substantial majority” of the firm’s young lawyers will be getting an end-of-the-year check. Christopher Foley, managing partner of Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, reports that the firm freshmen who billed 2,400 hours and met other performance goals received a cool $34,500, while second-years meeting the same criteria netted 30 percent of their annual salary: $40,500. Dickstein Shapiro Morin & Oshinskysays that junior lawyers were eligible for an “hours-based” bonus beginning at 2,100 hours, with the heftiest windfall awarded for 2,400 or more hours. The firm’s largest check written to a first- or second-year: $38,000, which includes a merit-based bonus of $8,000. Associates at Swidler Berlin Shereff Friedmanwere eligible for bonuses up to $35,000. Yet the firm reports that the biggest check written to a second-year was $25,000, while the largest to a first-year was $20,000. Covington & Burlingreports that junior associates were eligible for bonuses of up to $35,000, although a spokeswoman could not say whether anyone got top dollar. The top bonus for a junior associate at Wiley Rein & Fieldingwas $22,500; at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, $15,000. As of Dec. 17, several behemoths said they had yet to determine associate bonuses. Among them: Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, as well as the D.C. offices of Piper Rudnickand Latham & Watkins, where firm leaders say they won’t make bonus decisions until late December or January. That, says recruiter Charles Garrisonof Garrison & Sisson, may be because many firms are still pushing to collect from clients before the new year and are still assessing profits. But delaying also allows firms to survey the market and see what their competitors are paying. “The same game is played every year,” he says. “Who blinks first?” Of course, for many big firms, the subject of associate bonuses is a sensitive one. Among those who refused requests for bonus information or did not return phone calls: Arnold & Porter; Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr; and McDermott Will & Emery. — Jason McLure BOOTED OUT Advocates for the poor claim that D.C.’s new Office of Administrative Hearingsis more concerned with ensuring litigants follow its complex set of rules than the merits of cases. Led by D.C.’s Legal Aid Society, the critics contend that a forum for dealing with agency decisions affecting government benefits needs to be user-friendly, especially for people with no lawyers or legal experience. After coaxing from D.C. Councilwoman Kathy Patterson, the court’s chief judge, Tyrone Butler, agreed to meet with advocates on Dec. 13. The meeting didn’t last long. Butler gathered his belongings and left the room after 10 minutes. Court officials had requested that only five advocates attend. The Legal Aid Society had brought seven people. “This is so analogous to our issue: that procedure trumps substance,” says Sczerina Perot, a lawyer at the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless. But Lisa Coleman, general counsel to the court, says officials felt there was not going to be a balanced discussion. “The most recent meeting was adjourned because of the adversarial tone that had arisen, not because of the number of participants present,” Coleman says. — Tom Schoenberg FLEEING FISH The merger of Ropes & Grayand IP boutique Fish & Neavehas produced its first D.C. departures. Roderick McKelvie, a former federal judge, founded Fish’s D.C. office in 2002 with two of his former clerks, Richard Raineyand James Hopenfeld. McKelvie resigned after the merger was announced and reportedly has not yet decided where he’ll land. He could not be reached for comment. Last week, Rainey left the firm to return to Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, where he was an associate prior to joining Fish. Hopenfeld says the three had hoped to stay together. He’s planning to stay with Ropes & Gray and anticipates that all of Fish’s associates will as well. “The three of us are very close,” he says. “We were all struggling with the decision.” — Jason McLure THE BEST MEDICINE There’s nothing like a Supreme Court victory to help a lawyer recuperate. On Dec. 13, William Bradford Reynolds, partner at D.C.’s Howrey Simon Arnold & White, was resting up from injuries suffered in a car accident when he got the call that he had won Cooper Industries v. Aviall Services— an important ruling interpreting the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980. “It helped me feel a lot better,” says Reynolds, 62. Nine days earlier, near his second home in South Carolina, Reynolds was a passenger in a car hit by another driver. Reynolds ended up with all his ribs broken, putting him into “forced relaxation,” as he puts it. The Supreme Court win, which saved client Cooper Industries from a potential $5 million bill for cleanup costs, was Reynolds’ 15th of 19 cases argued at the high court, and his second win for the Houston-based company — the first being Cooper Industries v. Leatherman Tool Group, a 2001 punitive damages case. Reynolds, once the chief of the Civil Rights Division in the Reagan Justice Department, says he expects to return to D.C. and work in January, “raring to go.” — Tony Mauro BEVERIDGE BOUND Thomas DiBiagio, who courted controversy during his tenure as U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland, announced he will join D.C.-based Beveridge & Diamondas a litigation partner Jan. 3. At the firm, he will concentrate on complex civil litigation, white collar defense, and corporate compliance. During his tenure as U.S. attorney, DiBiagio’s office won high-profile convictions against the former superintendent of the Maryland State Police and the former chairman of the University of Maryland’s Board of Regents. But his term was also marred by allegations of partisanship, a public tussle with the Montgomery County state’s attorney over prosecutions in the D.C.-area sniper shootings, and an official rebuke from the Justice Department after leaked memos that showed DiBiagio ordered more “front page” indictments around the November election. “He obviously has tremendous experience as a trial lawyer in both criminal and civil cases and as an administrator,” says John Hanson, chair of Beveridge & Diamond’s litigation practice. “He came in and invigorated that [U.S. Attorney's] Office.” — Bethany Broida PHONING IT IN Advising on the Sprint-Nextel merger last week were Cravath, Swaine & Moore; King & Spalding; and Willkie Farr & Gallagherfor the Sprint Corp. and Jones Dayand Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrisonfor Reston, Va.-based Nextel Communications Inc. The $35 billion deal, which will create the third-largest mobile phone service provider in the United States — behind Verizon and Cingular — with about 35 million customers, is expected to pass smoothly through antitrust review. Washington lawyers involved include Jones Day partners Joe Sims, Robert Jones, and Tom Smith, Willkie partner Philip Verveer, and Paul, Weiss partners Phillip Spectorand Petra Vorwig. — Lily Henning and New York Law Journal MISSISSIPPI MAGIC Celebrating the “redemption of Mississippi justice” last week, the American Tort Reform Associationcongratulated the state for becoming more friendly to corporate defendants in civil suits and shedding its reputation for handing out big damage awards to plaintiffs suing companies. The interest group also unveiled 2004′s nine “judicial hellholes” — places where, in ATRA’s view, companies don’t want to find themselves on the wrong end of a civil suit. Topping the list is a perennial ATRA target: Madison County, Ill. The group says it is “difficult to overstate the anti-business litigation climate that suffocates” the county. New to the “hellhole” list this year are Hampton County, S.C., and St. Clair County, Ill., which borders Madison County. Ronnie Crosby, who practices at Hampton County plaintiffs firm Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth & Detrick, calls the list a “propaganda tool.” — Lily Henning GOODBYE, GRAVY TRAIN PeopleSoft’s capitulation to Oracle Corp.’s hostile takeover brought to an end 18 months of drama between the two California software companies — and a feast of work for law firms. The work leading up to last week’s $10.3 billion deal “has been as complicated as any project I’ve ever worked on,” says Douglas Smith, a Gibson, Dunn & Crutcherpartner working for PeopleSoft. Oracle’s antitrust counsel at Latham & Watkinshad about 35 lawyers working an average of 300 hours a month at the peak of the antitrust case, says Latham’s Daniel Wall. His team produced enough documents, he says, to fill the entire cargo hold of a red-eye flight from San Francisco to D.C. Oracle’s lead corporate counsel, Davis Polk & Wardwell, used three partners and 10-plus associates to litigate PeopleSoft’s anti-takeover provisions. Oracle also employed Bingham McCutchen; Morrison & Foerster; and Howrey Simon Arnold & Whiteat various stages. PeopleSoft also deployed Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamiltonand Folger Levin & Kahn. — Marie-Anne Hogarth, The Recorder PLAY TIME The attorney who successfully argued before the Supreme Court in April that prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, should be able to challenge their detention in the federal courts made a guest appearance Dec. 16 in a play about the military prison at Guantánamo. John Gibbons, an 80-year-old retired federal judge, performed the role of senior British judge Johan Steyn in “Guantánam Honor Bound to Defend Freedom.” Gibbons read excerpts from a speech given by Steyn in November 2003 that sharply criticized U.S. policies at Guantánamo. Gibbons, a partner at the Newark, N.J.-based Gibbons, Del Deo, Dolan, Griffinger & Vecchione, says he was far less nervous before his New York City stage appearance than he had been at his Supreme Court arguments. “You don’t have a script there,” he says. The play, which debuted in London, tells the story of four Guantánamo prisoners through actual statements, speeches, legal documents, and letters from the detainees to their families. “After seeing the play, people really wanted to know what they could do to help,” says Gitanjali Gutierrez, a public interest lawyer at Gibbons, Del Deo who attended the show. — Vanessa Blum

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