Cravath proved they’re still the Biglaw compensation leader by coming over the top of Davis Polk’s raises. Now the question is — who will follow them? Which lawyers are still working for Russia? A British politician goes ahead and NAMES NAMES. The dog whistles are getting LOUD: it sure is interesting that the only Supreme Court nominee that is fielding questions about her LSAT score is a Black woman.
Special thanks to our sponsor, Posh Virtual Receptionists, LLC.
Joe Patrice: Hello and welcome to another edition of Thinking Like a Lawyer.
Kathryn Rubino: Hello.
Joe Patrice: I really thought you weren’t paying attention.
Kathryn Rubino: Well, I wasn’t.
Joe Patrice: I thought I was going to sneak that one in.
Kathryn Rubino: I wasn’t, but I started to.
Joe Patrice: I’m Joe Patrice from Above the Law. I am joined as usual by Kathryn Rubino and Chris Williams. We are a few of your Above the Law editors.
Kathryn Rubino: Your neighborhood friendly podcasters.
Joe Patrice: I don’t know how friendly some of us are.
Chris Williams: We’re friendly now?
Joe Patrice: Yeah, no.
Kathryn Rubino: I mean, I’m friendly.
Chris Williams: I fought three people today.
Kathryn Rubino: I’m sure they deserved it.
Joe Patrice: Yeah.
Chris Williams: Yes, one of them was me. You got into my damn nerves.
Joe Patrice: So, again and we’re here to talk about the big legal stories of the week so that you are informed whenever you get in your little legal conversations.
Kathryn Rubino: And we’re just going to do that. We’re just going to jump right into legal conversations? That seems bold.
Joe Patrice: I thought we could unless you wanted to. Did you want to have some small talk?
Kathryn Rubino: I’m going to count this as a W because I didn’t get interrupted by the sound.
Joe Patrice: That’s fair.
Kathryn Rubino: So, it’s a victory for me.
Joe Patrice: Hey, you know why, I was of course this last week at the ABA Techshow which was a lot of fun to finally see some folks in person again.
Kathryn Rubino: It was your second conference, right?
Joe Patrice: Technically, yeah, but ILTA was a different animal. It was early enough in the tentative steps back that ILTA didn’t really feel like a real show but this did, very. Chicago had lifted its mask mandate like the day before, so yeah. It was actually seeing people’s faces and hanging out and it was great. Of course, I as usual –.
Kathryn Rubino: Drank too much, what?
Joe Patrice: No, obviously the picture of sobriety that I am.
Kathryn Rubino: Obviously. You’re sober as a judge.
Joe Patrice: Yeah, depends on the judge. But yeah, no, it was good to see everybody. There is no rest however because we’re going straight into New York Legal Week this week which all of us are going to be at.
Chris Williams: I’m in the “we”. This is crazy. This is my first one.
Joe Patrice: Yeah. I’ll tell you, all your hosts will be there so, yeah.
Kathryn Rubino: This seems less small talkie and more like related to the job. Like what did you do, Chris that was over the weekend for example?
Chris Williams: Again, I did a lot of fighting.
Joe Patrice: Tried to kill people in God of War, like that’s what he’s done for a while.
Chris Williams: There is no try.
Joe Patrice: Yeah.
Chris Williams: There is no try.
Kathryn Rubino: (00:02:35).
Chris Williams: I meek murdered the meek fuck out of people in God of War. I’m on the — there’s the hard version. The hardest version is Give Me God of War, right? And then when you beat that, you unlock the even harder version which should be called seek help. Why? It’s called Give Me God of War Plus. So, I beat the hardest boss on the hardest version of Give Me God of War and I got this armor set which I won’t give any spoilers, which basically makes me a glass cannon. And like I hit like a truck but if a mosquito bites me, I die and it is worth it. It is so worth it.
Joe Patrice: Fair enough.
Chris Williams: Like if a hard wind comes, I’m dead. But in between, I’m smacked — it’s very aggressive. It’s like Peak Tyson.
Joe Patrice: Okay, I see that. Yeah, so that’s what’s going on with me. It was great to meet people. Another reason it was to great people at ABA Techshow was I went to an event and that some of the listeners, they were quick to point out that they think that I’m the best person on the show.
Kathryn Rubino: I don’t believe it. Zero percent chance that happened.
Joe Patrice: They encouraged me. They keep working with the sound board because they enjoy it.
Kathryn Rubino: People may have done that because they choose violence but no one’s like, “Joe’s the best.”
Chris Williams: I mean you did mention earlier that you were drinking a bit during the — you may have heard–.
Kathryn Rubino: So, perhaps your recollection is not.
Chris Williams: There’s an old story about a drunk guy signing away a farm that comes to mind.
Joe Patrice: Happy hours happen but I had most of my conversations before that.
Kathryn Rubino: Happy days, let’s call them.
Joe Patrice: Stop. I am being blind everybody.
Kathryn Rubino: The truth is a defense, you know that, right?
Joe Patrice: Yes.
Kathryn Rubino: Cool.
Joe Patrice: Yeah. All right, I’m done with all these violence.
Kathryn Rubino: Are you?
Joe Patrice: I am.
Kathryn Rubino: I mean to be clear –.
Joe Patrice: And you know how I know? It’s because we just had the sound effect.
Kathryn Rubino: You’re such a jerk.
Joe Patrice: So, anyway –.
Chris Williams: You get one brightly colored orange turtleneck and you start acting different. I see how you are.
Joe Patrice: That was a good outfit.
Chris Williams: It was a good turtleneck.
Joe Patrice: Yeah.
Chris Williams: It was a good turtleneck. I’ll even go as far as to say that the orange and the brown, they look nice. I don’t know who put that together for you but they did a good job.
Joe Patrice: I did.
Chris Williams: Sure. The Queen’s Eye, huh?
Kathryn Rubino: It’s the royal eye.
Joe Patrice: Listen I am the legal industry’s fashion icon. We know this.
Kathryn Rubino: I mean I’m sitting right here.
Joe Patrice: And I can’t take any of this guff from Chris. Last week, you did an unboxing of your new favorite jackets and that was all me recommendations.
Chris Williams: Listen. I will outdress you in a t-shirt and jeans.
Joe Patrice: Maybe, we’ll see.
Chris Williams: Know that.
Kathryn Rubino: Throw-down.
Joe Patrice: Yeah.
Chris Williams: Yes. What’s her name? You can do a fashionable jurist list.
Kathryn Rubino: I am confident I’ll win, right?
Joe Patrice: So, anyway, this is all a long way around to say that associates who work in big law firms now have more money to spend on clothes.
Kathryn Rubino: They do.
Joe Patrice: So, if you’ve been following Above the Law recently or this show, you know that we’ve been in a raise spiral. We have no bank move burst. Davis poke raise salaries even higher for –.
Kathryn Rubino: Well, for mid and senior associates, the first three years of your associate life, it’s still on the original Milbank scale.
Joe Patrice: Right. And then since we last recorded, we heard news from Cravath that they were going to also work with the same Milbank scale for the junior associates but for mids and seniors, they were going to go even higher.
Kathryn Rubino: Yeah, I’ll take that one. First it was a short sound and very accurate. Yeah, no, Cravath came back over at the top. So, we actually affirms that as of the end of February have issued three rounds of raises. Like that’s how this has worked. This is how 2022 has been in big law. By the end of February, three different sets of raises for mid and senior level associates at some firms. And these are obviously the firms that quickly matched because they wanted demonstrate to the rank and file that they see what’s happening in the industry and they are happy to play ball and always be at the top of whatever which is great but I am sure it’s incredibly irritating for the folks behind the scenes at the firms who have to make these raises happen particularly because they’ve all been retroactive. Or I shouldn’t say “all.” Most have been retroactive to January 1st. So, pour a little out for the payroll folks who have been often times repeatedly doing some back payment calculations and I’m sure it’s an irritation especially at the big firms where there’s tons of people to whom this applies but yeah.
Joe Patrice: It’s going to be interesting. One assumes though who knows? But one assumes that Cravath is the last word on this. Usually, they are the first and last word but they’re the third word this time I guess. But we think finally this is going to be where we sit for a bit.
Kathryn Rubino: Yeah, I do think things will settle at this point which is why I will give a little PSA to associates who might be listening. If your firm is the sort of firm that would normally match but hasn’t said anything yet, don’t freak out yet. It’s only been last week that we actually got the final word from Cravath which I do think it will be perceived by the industry as the final word at least for 2022. We’ll see what happens going forward but I wouldn’t freak out yet. These things usually have to be done at partner — well, it depends on the firm but oftentimes only happen at partner meetings where they can be approved which are usually scheduled well in advance.
So, I wouldn’t worry about it until we get to the end of March beginning of April without any word. That’s when I would start to freak out that maybe the firm wasn’t matching. But I would say give them a minute particularly since these raises have largely been as I mentioned retroactive so it’s not cash that you’re missing out on. So, I wouldn’t freak out yet.
Joe Patrice: Yeah, this is going to be interesting to monitor to the extent that we are going to start looking at two phenomena I think. So, we’ve got raises, people are matching. There is a well-documented lateral market theory which means that firms have every economic incentive to match as quickly as possible to keep on the happy end of the talent conflict. That said, one, I think we really need to start worrying about the in-house counsel’s gigs. Those are often lower paying than associate jobs. They usually find talent anyway because they’re prestigious jobs and they often are a little bit more lifestyle and work-life balance. But I mean I can trade a lot of money for a work-life balance but can I trade this amount of money? That’s going to be a trend that we need to monitor is will in-house counsel have to cough up more money?
And if they don’t, how are they going to stay afloat in this battle? And the other of course is what happens to the firms who just can’t afford to match Cravath? We’ve not really run into that amongst the elite firms but we’ve also seen non-elite but still highly ranked firms struggle to keep up with the revenue increases, have some demand lags. If that’s still true, are they going to be able to match? And if they aren’t, what are they going to come up with to be competitive? Are we going to start seeing firms say, “Okay, we can’t match that but you can work from home forever,” “Okay, we can’t match that but we now have two months vacation,” or whatever it is, are we going to start seeing non-pecuniary compensation have a moment?
Kathryn Rubino: I mean for sure but the problem is I think for the back half of big law or mid law or whatever is that increasingly the top of big law seems to be very happy and anxious to match these other benefits as well. I think that there’s a real concern at the top of big law that they can’t keep and recruit and retain the best talent and that they might have to actually turn away work because they don’t have enough attorneys in the firm. So, we are seeing things like paid vacation, we are seeing things like extra time off where we are seeing and we’re covering at Above the Law. If your firm is offering some fun little perk, please share it with us. It’s [email protected]. Just email us.
Joe Patrice: Yeah.
Kathryn Rubino: We keep you all sorts of anonymous. Don’t worry about it, but we are seeing that. Yeah, so I’m not sure how well, we’ll see. I guess we’ll see but I’m very interested to continue to track all of the benefits that various firms are giving out, not just the salaries and bonuses which I do think another round of special bonuses as highly likely this year, but we’ll see and it’ll be fun to watch.
Joe Patrice: Yeah, busy though and that’s why –.
Kathryn Rubino: Somebody get that. Don’t just let it ring.
Joe Patrice: Yeah, no, so that’s why this is an excellent time to hear from our sponsors at Posh about reception services.
Female: As a lawyer, ever wish you could be in two places at once? You could take a call when you’re in court. Capture a lead during a meeting. That’s where Posh comes in. We’re live virtual receptionists who answer and transfer your calls so you never miss an opportunity. And the Posh app lets you control when your receptionist steps in. So, if you can’t answer, Posh can. And if you’ve got it, Posh is just a tap away. With Posh, you can save as much as 40% off your current service provider’s rates. Start your free trial today at posh.com.
Joe Patrice: Okay, so we’re back. Turning to very serious news, one of the bigger stories that we covered last week, the kind of a surprise story that came up, we have been following as everyone has the situation in Ukraine. There is a parliamentary privilege in the United Kingdom that allows members of parliament to say whatever they want without risk of being sued for defamation. It’s to encourage more free debate and –.
Kathryn Rubino: And they have different defamation laws than we have in the U.S.
Joe Patrice: Right. And one member decided to push that as far as they could, not just naming firms that did work with the Putin regime, but individual lawyers that he knew of who had done work for the Putin regime. Insert name of solicitor here, insert name of barrister here and in a speech that was televised to properly shame people for working with Vladimir Putin.
Kathryn Rubino: I mean if you don’t want to deal with the ramifications of representing war criminals, perhaps –.
Joe Patrice: Don’t represent war criminals.
Kathryn Rubino: That’s where I was going with that. Thanks.
Joe Patrice: I actually wrote an article the other day and I got some flak for it from people who I thought just simply don’t get it. There is a curmudgeonly old lawyer world out there that criticizes people like me for saying, “Don’t work with war criminals,” because they say, “Being a lawyer, everyone deserves a lawyer,” and yada yada. We kind of talked a little bit about this in recent episodes, I know. But in this article where we wrote about the parliamentary thing, I kind of laid out my vision and I was very heartened that law professor actually re-tweeted it by saying, “What Joe is saying here is super important. If Putin goes on trial for war crimes, anyone who represents him is performing the noble duty of the profession, but signing off on gas future contracts for a Russian company, so that a kleptocracy could line their pockets is not the noblest role of the profession.”
And that distinction between both litigation and transactional work but also between people’s right to be defended against the awesome power of a government agency coming after them in the criminal context and representing them so that they can eke out money from some other giant corporation are very different things.
Chris Williams: Wait, are you saying our profession has obligations that aren’t just fiscal ones?
Joe Patrice: Yes.
Chris Williams: Oh my God.
Joe Patrice: We do, but they are not as universal as lawyers like to act like they are. I think there’s a lot of lawyers who because what they really care about is the financial motives but don’t want the flak for doing things that are shaky moral wise posture themselves as though collecting big fees in any matter possible is that sort of noble professional obligation and it’s not. That obligation exists. It is not however everything a lawyer can do. There is work that goes beyond that. In some ways, I’ve always said it’s kind of like a branding issue but it’s a little more than that. But look, if you want to be someone’s first call when they get picked up for murder then you’re going to represent people who are rightly or wrongly considered unsavory by society and that’s good. Somebody needs to do that. That is different than insert Am Law 25 law firm here doing all its work with Gazprom. Those are two different things.
Kathryn Rubino: We are actually seeing I think much more of a move than you do typically about all sorts of attorneys getting sort of the consequences of their own actions when it comes to the Russian aggression. Let’s say that way, there was actually a story we covered earlier too about a Milwaukee City attorney, Jennifer DeMaster, who was let go from her job after an appearance on a Russian controlled television show saying that Vladimir Putin’s occupation of Ukraine and deployment of troops was justified. It was, yeah.
Joe Patrice: I actually feel really bad for our audio engineers because I feel as though every time we have to say the name of the President of Russia, we are causing so many explosion. Like I’m even hearing it like — anyway, we’re sorry everybody. But yeah, no, the–.
Chris Williams: Auditory ones, we are not involved with anybody actually attacking anything in the world.
Joe Patrice: Yes, not explosions, the act of popping your peas and stuff like that.
Chris Williams: No pea popping, Joe.
Kathryn Rubino: Joe does like to get real deep on audio engineering in the middle of the podcast for a reason.
Joe Patrice: Because I’m considerate. I mean this might go to why everybody thinks I’m so much the nice guy on the show. I don’t know.
Kathryn Rubino: Interesting.
Chris Williams: Because you’re popping pea out here.
Joe Patrice: Yeah. So, let’s transition from that. So, we are of course still following the nomination of Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court. The latest attempt to sink her nomination from society’s political enemies was what is it here, Chris? What do conservatives really feel they need to get before they can sign on board with this nomination?
Chris Williams: Political views aside, a person sitting before the highest federal court, this is a very, very important station. And you can’t just do that without disclosing the people as much information that is relevant. You can’t just have anybody sitting up there. So, they reasonably of course want LSAT scores because her being a judge for nine years and clerking for I don’t know, a Supreme Court justice, it may be the one she’s replacing, I don’t know. The things like that, they aren’t enough. They need to know the numbers she got what decade or so ago.
Kathryn Rubino: Significantly longer than that, yeah.
Joe Patrice: Yeah, more because she had a lengthy career before joining the bench. They want –.
Chris Williams: That’s not enough either.
Joe Patrice: They want her LSAT scores which I think is astounding. It is a way of kind of erasing the whole going to Harvard thing too.
Chris Williams: Twice.
Joe Patrice: The first one, you didn’t need to take the LSAT for but the second one, we know –.
Chris Williams: It’s still a flex.
Joe Patrice: Right, exactly.
Chris Williams: So, we know at least once the LSAT scores were good enough and then the clerking probably helps too. It’s astounding to ask for this stuff.
Kathryn Rubino: It’s racist.
Joe Patrice: Right.
Kathryn Rubino: I mean I’m just going to say the word like it is what it is.
Chris Williams: It’s not about racism. It’s about liberty. Unless the Blacks do it then they’re racists. I thought this was explained at the meeting. Only Blacks can pull the race car. And I know this now because I had a White person email me explaining what racism was to me, a Black guy from Camden who went to records in Washington University because apparently I don’t know enough about the talking points people used to discredit achievements. So, one thing is I suck with standardized tests. My SAT score was average like it was average at best, graduated Phi Beta Kappa with two degrees, did policy debate, an undergrad, did an honors thesis on comedy. And other people with honors in college, they got paid to be in it. I didn’t get any money on it so I missed out on like 10 grand which is a BS. My GPA, it sucked. My average GPA was like 3.8 and it was down from that, because I wasn’t too good with the hard sciences but in my degrees, I had like basically 4.0s. But I had average SAT scores and they tend to not be good predictors of future things happening even at the undergrad level, same thing with the LSAT I think.
Joe Patrice: Also, the weird thing about the LSAT is — and I’m one of these people who doesn’t necessarily think we need it. I think that other entrance exams are also useful but I will say statistically the only standardized test I’ve ever heard of that has decent predictability scores is LSAT and not your ability to do law school, but it’s a decent predictor of your ability to pass the bar is what people have said that like you — so it’s really about your ability to take a different kind of test but that it is valuable for that which has some benefits especially if you consider that –.
Kathryn Rubino: If you want to be a lawyer, you actually need to pass the bar at some point.
Joe Patrice: Until we fix the diploma privilege problem in this country to the extent that you need to pass the part of practice law school that could leave you with a degree but unable to get that license would be a problem so that’s a value to the LSAT, yada yada yada, whatever.
Chris Williams: The thing you read, did you notice if it accounted for a correlation between income and scores? Because I know when I was a 3.0 during the find out area of the COVID thing, I was a 3.0 doing like 60-hour a week. So, I did school full time and worked at an Amazon warehouse and the school decided to raise tuition on us. And I was able to pay for that and I had to use my earnings at Amazon to compensate for that. People that say had full rides or had parents they could lean on didn’t have to have the extra hours. So, I’m wondering like how things play out when you factor in the non-testy things that factor into test scores.
Joe Patrice: Yeah. And look, obviously, you came with us so you’ve not had to deal with the whole bar exam thing really because you’re a writer.
Chris Williams: Thank God.
Joe Patrice: But yeah, the thing was just that as a predictor, it was actually not a very good predictor of your ability to do and pass law school but it was a decent one of once you get out though, you’re –.
Kathryn Rubino: But again more to the point, Tucker Carlson who demanded the LSAT scores did none of that when it came to every other Supreme Court nominee, not for Amy Coney Barrett who went to a lesser law school than Ketanji Brown Jackson.
Chris Williams: Harvard.
Kathryn Rubino: Unless you went to Yale and maybe Stanford –.
Chris Williams: On Tuesdays.
Joe Patrice: Yeah.
Kathryn Rubino: That’s it. But Amy Coney Barrett went to a fine law school, good law school, Notre Dame, not the same level as Harvard, no one asked for her LSAT scores because it’s a bunch of bullshit particularly when we have so much of a record when it comes to actually Brown Jackson’s actual judicial career.
Joe Patrice: That’s what I was trying to get out with this correlation issue. We don’t need to know. There’s obviously no need for us to get into LSAT scores but they were probably pretty good because she passed the bar.
Chris Williams: (00:24:27).
Joe Patrice: If they’re connected, then that’s good proof.
Kathryn Rubino: She did fine. I’m positive she did fine. But it’s insulting to ask at this point in her career but also not the only dog whistle thing that she’s had to deal with, right? Professor Jonathan Turley also came out. I know you wrote about that, Joe, about some of his bullshit.
Joe Patrice: Yeah.
Kathryn Rubino: That was an invite.
Joe Patrice: Yeah. Increasingly, George Washington Professor Jonathan Turley, he just seems like he’s really working very hard to constantly be on television, in particular the cable news outlets that just want somebody to validate horrible ideas.
And so, he’s now gone on social media to say, “We can’t really trust her record.” Why is that true? No good reason. We actually have a very lengthy record. And then he got in a tussle at that point where Professor Vladeck comes out and he’s like, “Actually, we have all of this evidence,” and then he tried to dismiss Vladeck’s thing which Vladeck was like, “I even pre-empted the dumb argument you were going to make next and you don’t even answer that.”
Chris Williams: Also, shout out to Vladeck because it’s like a big ass graph. It was very concise and straight to the point. I was like, “Look at the math mathing.”
Joe Patrice: No, that graph, it is coming very handy for a lot of different things like just number crunching all of judicial experience is a service he’s provided to all of us which you know. It’s not even necessarily his day-to-day wheelhouse of stuff especially like now when there’s national security issues which he talks about a lot going on. Thank you for doing that.
Kathryn Rubino: Yeah.
Joe Patrice: That’s everything.
Kathryn Rubino: It’s been a week.
Joe Patrice: It has. We’ve made it to the end of another show. Thanks everyone for listening. Some of you we’ll hopefully see in New York at legal week. Others will have to catch up later. You should be reading Above the Law of course so that you read about these stories before they come out. You should be subscribed to this show so you’d get new episodes when they come out. You should give it reviews, stars, write something, always helps out. You should be listening to the Jabot, Kathryn’s other show. When we aren’t in the middle of Legaltech season on Legaltech Week journalist’s round table but we’re a little busy right now with two back-to-back shows.
You should be listening to the other shows on The Legal Talk Network. In particular, I will give the plug on the road with their show that talks about conferences and I hosted a few of those episodes from the ABA Techshows which I call that out. Thanks again to Posh for sponsoring the show. You can check us on social media. I’m @JosephPatrice, he’s @rightsforrent.
Kathryn Rubino: rightsforrent.
Joe Patrice: I was thrown off because I was mixing it up and doing him first and you seemed very like, “Why is my …”
Kathryn Rubino: It’s not even accurate.
Chris Williams: It’s Kathryn with a 1.
Joe Patrice: It is.
Chris Williams: You got to go there first.
Joe Patrice: Yeah, Kathryn1.
Kathryn Rubino: You all know.
Joe Patrice: With a numeral one.
Kathryn Rubino: It’s Kathryn with the numeral one.
Joe Patrice: And yeah, I think that’s it.
Chris Williams: Also, it still blows my mind that people actually consume this content. So, if you’re listening to this, I guess by the time this releases, the conference will already happened but hey –.
Joe Patrice: It will be in the middle of it.
Chris Williams: It will be in the middle of it.
Joe Patrice: Yeah.
Chris Williams: It will be in the middle of it. So, if you see me, say hi. Don’t be creepy about it. Just be like, “Hey, I’m an actual person. I consume your content. You got to use typos. You need to work with your its, it’s.” But it will be nice to see people.
Joe Patrice: Yes. So, we will be back next week.
Kathryn Rubino: Peace.
Outro: The views expressed by the participants of this program are their own and do not represent the views of nor are they endorsed by Legal Talk Network or their respective officers, directors, employees, agents, representatives, shareholders and subsidiaries. None of the content should be considered legal advice. As always, consult a lawyer.