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Vinson & Elkins first big Texas firm to boost pay Associate salaries are on the way up in Texas. The executive committee at Houston-based Vinson & Elkins voted on March 8 to raise associate pay, moving first-year base salaries to $135,000 in Texas. The firm increased the first-year base in Washington and New York City to $145,000, said managing partner Joe Dilg. The raises are effective as of March 1, Dilg said. With firms around the country raising associate salaries, Texas firms had largely stayed aloof-until V&E made a move. “We feel like we need to be able to . . . compensate our attorneys based on the market that’s there, not just the Texas market, but the national market,” said Dilg. Pepper Hamilton reports gains amid merger talk Philadelphia’s Pepper Hamilton reported a 10% increase in gross revenue and a 5% increase in profits per equity partner last year, according to data provided to The Legal Intelligencer, an affiliate of The National Law Journal. Perhaps even more telling, the firm improved its results while maintaining close to the same number of attorneys and increasing the number of equity partners. As rumors have floated about a possible merger between Pepper and Nixon Peabody, which has its largest offices in Boston and Rochester, N.Y., one national recruiter said improved financials make the firm an attractive merger prospect. High-profile ex-Wilson lawyer moves again Former Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati securities litigator Bruce Vanyo, who encountered conflict issues a month after starting a new job at Kirkland & Ellis, was in Chicago last week signing up with his third firm of the year, Katten Muchin Rosenman. He joins the firm’s Los Angeles office and will co-chair its securities litigation practice. He will also serve as a member of the firm’s board of directors. Vanyo said he contacted Katten Chairman David Kistenbroker as soon as he realized he faced conflict issues at Kirkland with both current and prospective clients. When leaving Palo Alto, Calif.-based Wilson Sonsini for Chicago-based Kirkland & Ellis, Vanyo said, “I never considered talking to David because he already had a great securities litigation group.” Vanyo added, “I thought I would go to the firms that were the have-nots.” Vanyo, one of Wilson’s most highly compensated partners, joined Kirkland’s Los Angeles office on Feb 2. He declined to provide details on the nature of the unanticipated conflicts, and said he could not recall when the conflicts first arose. Breyer finds Roberts court more ‘relaxed’ Adding two new members to the U.S. Supreme Court has changed its dynamics, with discussions about cases more free-flowing under new Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., Justice Stephen G. Breyer said last week. Long the junior member of the court under the late Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, Breyer said operations are “a little more relaxed” under Roberts, who tends to let justices discuss issues at more length during closed-door meetings. The justices have “very nice” interpersonal relationships with the addition of Roberts and Justice Samuel A. Alito, Breyer said, and members may even be trying harder than normal to get along, as evidenced by a flurry of unanimous decisions. Lack of diversity in Ga.’s P.D. system draws fire As Georgia’s new public defender system marks its one-year anniversary, an African-American lawyers’ group is blasting the system’s oversight agency for not hiring enough minority public defenders. Only four of the 43 state circuits participating in the new statewide system are headed by African-American public defenders. The paucity of black public defenders in a state where 70% of the indigent defendants are African-American has been an ongoing concern for the Georgia Alliance of African American Attorneys. About 28% of the 473 assistant public defenders in the new system are minorities, but that percentage drops to 18% if Fulton County, or the Atlanta circuit, is excluded.

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