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03/21/06

Chicago law firms raise first-year salaries


More firms in the Chicago area have raised salaries to $135,000 a year for first-year associates. In order to keep up with their competitors in the other big markets, such as New York and Southern California, Chicago is rewarding its associates with larger paychecks.

McDermott Will & Emery ; Vedder, Price, Kaufman & Kammholz; Jenner & Block; Winston & Strawn; and Katten Muchin Rosenman have all set first-year salaries at $135,000 in their Chicago offices. Most of the aforementioned firms, however, are against uniform salaries for their other offices across the U.S. For instance, McDermott adjusts salaries according to local market conditions, with associates in New York earning $145,000 and those in Miami receiving $125,000. Vedder Price utilizes a different approach, offering the same salary in both its New York and Chicago offices. Similarly, Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal offers $135,000 for first-year associates in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, while its New York associates receive $145,000.

Raises for associates in St. Louis and Kansas City, MO, are currently under consideration.

More U.S. law firms break into the Russian market
An increasing number of U.S. firms are opening Russian branch offices. Haynes and Boone opened a Moscow office last year to tap into the Russian and the Caspian region. Bracewell & Giuliani set up offices in Kazakhstan in 1997. Baker Botts opened a Moscow office in 1993, and Vinson & Elkins established a Moscow office in 1991. Lately, Houston-area law firms with energy practices have become active in Russia and the former Soviet States, including Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

Law practices in the former U.S.S.R. must grapple with evolving laws in various jurisdictions. American attorneys practicing in the region have cited numerous difficulties in dealing with the culture and claim that creating local business partners and nurturing trusting relationships with locals is key to practicing in the region.

Hiring boom for the Triad area
Things are looking up for lawyers in the Triad area of the Carolinas, as a 10% employment increase has been predicted for 2006. Today, there are 2,945 lawyers practicing in the area, according to the North Carolina State Bar, a slight increase from 2001's figures. Experts predict that number will dramatically increase this year.

Brooks Pierce McLendon Humphrey & Leonard and Tuggle Duggins & Meschan, for example, have announced plans to bring in new attorneys this year. The economic upswing in the Triad area has brought in more corporate, IP, real estate and litigation work, thus necessitating more attorneys.

Local law schools say recruiting is up with 10% increases in campus interviews at Wake Forest University School of Law and Duke University School of Law. Average starting salaries for new associates at Triad law firms have already risen to $115,000 from $100,000 last year.

Goodwin Procter looks westward
Goodwin Procter is looking to expand into the San Francisco, Los Angeles and Silicon Valley markets. The Boston-based firm, hoping to establish itself as a national practice, is weighing options, including merging with an existing firm or hiring lawyers in the area.

Founded in 1912, Goodwin Procter has a significant presence on the East Coast with 100 lawyers in its Washington, DC, office and 125 attorneys in New York. The 650-attorney firm represents a diverse range of technology, life sciences, financial services and real estate clients.

Lawyer Joke of the day
A young attorney gets a call about an emergency that will require him to fly down to Texas for the weekend. A senior associate tells him about it at the last minute, so the young attorney barely has time to make it to the airport, let alone to go home and pack.

He calls his house to tell his wife he won't be coming home tonight. The maid answers the phone, but she is hesitant to let the attorney speak to his wife.

The lawyer demands to know what's going on. The maid remains tight-lipped, but she cracks under examination from the attorney.

"I demand to know what's going on!" declares the attorney.

"Your wife," says the maid. "She is upstairs, sleeping with the mailman."

Furious, the lawyer tells the maid to go down to the basement, retrieve his shotgun and kill both his wife and her lover. The maid is obviously shocked and appalled.

"Don't worry. I'm one of the best litigators in the state, and I'll represent you free of charge," assured the attorney. After convincing the maid that he could get her off, the maid agreed to do the lawyer's dirty work.

The maid tells the lawyer to wait one moment. A minute later, the lawyer hears two shotgun blasts. The maid comes back to the phone.

"Did you kill them?" inquires the attorney.

"Yes, sir," replied the maid.

"And the bodies," asked the lawyer. "What did you do with the bodies?"

"I threw them in the pool, sir."

The attorney pauses before asking, "Is this 555-8329?"


McDermott Will & Emery

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