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Greenberg ups first-year pay in 2 offices to $145K from $125K; will competitors follow suit?

Aug 13, 2013, 01:57 pm CDT

Comments

I don’t work for a big law firm, nor in the US in fact. But I struggle to understand why there is a rush to pay more when so many good graduates can’t get a job.

By Gerard McDermott on 2013 08 16, 6:20 am CDT

This is a marketing gimmick and distraction.  It’s an attempt to appear ultra high end, when we all know that representation by anyone in the top half of the field will generally yield the same results.  Greenberg must be in trouble.

By associate on 2013 08 16, 7:03 am CDT

@1 because there are actually very few smart, talented graduates qualified for a top position.

The rest wasted their time and money going to law school, and are a product of the law school racket, and are a plague on the profession and society.

By truth on 2013 08 16, 8:08 am CDT

@1 Unfortunately the lower-tier graduates end up becoming the bulk of the judge class, which is another plague on the profession and society. Judges should not be lawyers, it is a completely separate profession requiring different training and aptitudes.

Honestly, there should be a rule. If a new graduate is not hired by BigLaw within a year, their law degree should convert to a paralegal certificate. That would help ensure the profession had qualified practitioners, and not full of con-men and their female counterparts.

By truth on 2013 08 16, 8:21 am CDT

@Truth, the problem with your reasoning process is that 99.99999% of attorneys in their fifth year of practice are better attorneys than every single first-year BigLaw associated in the United States.

By ABS on 2013 08 16, 8:39 am CDT

@ Truth—you may want to remove your head from your a _ s for a moment and take a breath.  You reailze, of course, that not everyone wants to live in New York, L.A., Chicago, Miami, Houston, etc., or work for the churn and burn ‘BigLaw’ firms.  I can only hope that our paths can cross one day so that I can put you in your place.  I suspect this happens all the time as it is.

By CTV on 2013 08 16, 8:47 am CDT

I went to law school.  I have a decent corporate job with a good salary.  Good but not great.  I’d like to go work for one of those high paying law firms.  My frat buddies all went to business school and started their own companies.  They are all mutli-millionaires now and several have “retired” and we are not even 50 yet.  Bag law school and go to business school is my message to college kids.

By joe on 2013 08 16, 9:02 am CDT

ABS hit the nail on the head. @truth - clearly you think upper tier graduates are more talented. In my 30+ years’ experience, that couldn’t be further from the truth…and I’ve practiced my entire career in NYC. That pompous attitude is what makes most lawyers so endeared by the public.. @ABS, I’ll take an attorney who was thrown into a court room his first year out of school, over a BigLaw associate who spent 5 years in the library, any day.

By PLJ on 2013 08 16, 9:03 am CDT

@ABS, can you support your assertion, or is the 99.99999% statistic taken from your vivid imagination?

@CTV, “you may want to remove your head from your a _ s for a moment and take a breath.” - Is this “argument” an example of your legal training?

“I can only hope that our paths can cross one day so that I can put you in your place.” - Is this “argument” another example of your legal training?

@joe Thank you, Sir!

@PLJ, do you have a supportable argument, or just a gratuitous assertion? There are actually very few smart, talented graduates qualified for a top position, and they get the big salary.

You are entitled to “take an attorney who was thrown into a court room his first year out of school, over a BigLaw associate who spent 5 years in the library, any day.”

But are you willing to pay that attorney a $145,000 starting salary?

By truth on 2013 08 16, 9:45 am CDT

@truth.  The statistic is taken from 22 years of closely studying the issue on a nearly-full-time basis.

By ABS on 2013 08 16, 9:58 am CDT

@ABS Yes, from your imagination. Thank you.

By truth on 2013 08 16, 10:04 am CDT

@truth - obviously a junior associate in BigLaw, with BigEgo to boot.

I started out in BigLaw, at a couple of Really Big Firms on Maiden Lane and Wall Street.  The best prepared 1st years weren’t from the Ivy League - while the kids from Harvard could certainly pontificate on the philosophies of jurisprudence, the kids from St. John’s knew how to do stuff. 

I have my J.D. from the Univeristy of Buffalo, and my LL.M from Harvard.  Having actually attended both institutions, I can unreservedly state that the quality of legal education was equivalent.  The best students at UB were as good as the best students at Harvard.  (I will grant that the worst students at Harvard were smarter than the bottom of UB’s class, some of whom were functionally illiterate - but that’s a different story).

For the last 20 years, I’ve been in-house; I hire lawyers for a living.  I have found very little correlation between the quality of work done for me and which law school was attended.  I’ve gotten excellent service from tiny firms and the biggest of BigLaw - and awful from both too.

By or Consequences on 2013 08 16, 10:07 am CDT

@ truth No, from 22 years of practicing with and against other lawyers.  Very few lawyers get out of law school having any idea of what they are doing.  Its a major flaw in the legal education system.

By ABS on 2013 08 16, 10:09 am CDT

@ or Consequences “Truth” may also be a BigLaw hiring partner trying to justify paying triple for starting incompetents that he would have to pay for experienced, competent attorneys.

By ABS on 2013 08 16, 10:15 am CDT

@Truth #4 - Your recommendation to turn law degrees into paralegal certificates is deeply offensive to professional paralegals.  Obviously, you have never worked with an advanced paralegal.  Attorneys learn theory and strategy in law school.  Paralegals learn processing and system implementation in paralegal school.  Attorneys are not trained to be paralegals and do not like the work.  Many paralegals have bachelor’s degrees, paralegal certificates and certification from national paralegal associations after taking difficult, broad-based exams.  The philosophy that disbarred and otherwise unwanted attorneys should be dumped into the paralegal profession is an unfair solution to finding jobs for them, and it does a great disservice to serious paralegals that might lose their jobs because of them.

By ML on 2013 08 16, 10:23 am CDT

@Truth is funny unless he/she is 100% serious in which event he/she is short-sighted to say the least.  No one knows the ultimate numbers pulling them out of their back pocket but Big Law does not make up the majority of all lawyers, first year associates or otherwise.  Thus, the position that anyone not practicing at Big Law is a ‘plague on the profession and society” is ludicrous.  Clearly @Truth has either a) never lived or visited small town America; b) worked insurance defense where rates begin with a 1 not a white shoe 6; c) was born with a silver spoon in his/her mouth and/or d) all of the above.  I am going with choice d.

By EJF on 2013 08 16, 10:54 am CDT

While I fully enjoy hearing anecdotal experiences from all, I remain troubled that Truth seems to confront all of those who posted to this blog asking for authority as to their assertions, yet Truth asserts that there are “very few smart, talented graduates qualified for a top position” without citing any authority. Perhaps that is in Truth’s mind or narrow world? Moreover, Truth opines that unless graduates are hired by BigLaw within one-year, the degree should be converted into a paralegal certificate. Unbelievable to think that one is so shallow and thoughtless.

It appears as if many graduates do in-fact pursue positions in mid to large-sized law firms, some do not for a myriad of reasons, none the least of which include quality of life issues, family obligations and the like. Perhaps using Truth’s logic, all graduates who pursue executive positions in corporations should also be stripped of their credentials.

If for nothing else, Truth’s thoughtless posts were entertaining and based on the number of his/her posts, Truth very well be unemployed.

By FM Esq on 2013 08 16, 11:31 am CDT

Please stay on topic. BigLaw pays big bucks because there actually very few smart, talented graduates qualified for a top position. Unless you have access to the applications for such positions, and know the decision making process, you do not know what makes these hires valuable. However BigLaw spends, in this case, $145,000 for a raw recruit. They see something in the recent grad that is rare and special - to BigLaw.

Your ad hominem attacks show your lack of legal reasoning. Please stay on topic, this is not about me, or the wrong assumptions you make about me. For example,

@12, wrong, I am a retired business person, and honors graduate of the Wharton School, with a second degree from an experimental and non-traditional college on the West Coast, TESC.

@13, yes, thank you.

@14, no, see 12 above.

@15, Yes, you are correct. Please accept my sincere apology. Kindly suggest a use for the overabundance of unqualified lawyers.

@16, Yes, there are exceptions, but one does not run a profession on the exceptions. I was raised in a small town. not a lawyer, and did not work in insurance defense. was born poor and disabled.

@17, see above, first paragraph. The “authority” is a starting salary of $145,000 for a raw recruit. Look, I did not express my opinion as to whether this is a good idea.

“Truth opines that unless graduates are hired by BigLaw within one-year, the degree should be converted into a paralegal certificate. Unbelievable to think that one is so shallow and thoughtless.”

No, shallow and thoughtless is the idea that society must provide a livelihood to law grads who grasp but miss the $145,000 brass ring. See 15. Kindly suggest another use for the overabundance of unqualified lawyers.

“Perhaps using Truth’s logic, all graduates who pursue executive positions in corporations should also be stripped of their credentials.” Is this “argument” an example of your legal training?

“Truth very well be unemployed.” Retired after a successful business career, doing important volunteer work. 

Please stay on topic.

By truth on 2013 08 16, 1:06 pm CDT

Truth seems to argue from the illogical position that only top-tier law school graduates are “smart, talented graduates qualified for a top position”.  I have crossed paths (when I was actively involved in the practice of law) with many of these “top” attorneys.  Many of them were unable to formulate a cogent argument.  And I always prevailed when facing them.

Unless these new graduates are being paid for their future potential, they are highly overpaid.  The available skill set that they bring to a position is not worth anywhere near what they are being paid.

Perhaps the high salaries are paid to perpetuate the perception that attorneys whose fees are higher are necessarily better. This perception may be “reality” when considering the selection practices that clients utilize, but the true reality is that these graduates are no more talented than many other practicing attorneys.

By Non-Practicing Attorney on 2013 08 16, 1:40 pm CDT

@19, Please stay on topic. This is not about me.

You allege that “Unless these new graduates are being paid for their future potential, they are highly overpaid.”

Yes, these new graduates are being paid for their future potential. Look, I have not expressed any opinion abut this practice. These new graduates are being paid for their future potential, for a reason: In the eyes of BigLaw they are the smartest, most talented graduates. In the eyes of BigLaw. I have not expressed any opinion abut this practice.

Greenberg pays $145,000 for a raw recruit because they see something in the recent grad that is rare and special - to BigLaw. There are actually very few smart, talented graduates qualified for a top position. Otherwise economics would drive the price down.

Of course, many new grads think they are BigLaw material, but few are chosen.

You may understand this better with a sports analogy. There are many good athletes, professional and non-professional. But only a few make it to the top, and the big bucks.

Please stay on topic. This is not about me.

By truth on 2013 08 16, 1:56 pm CDT

@20 (truth),

Your earliest post:
“3.
truth
Aug 16, 2013 8:08 AM CDT

@1 because there are actually very few smart, talented graduates qualified for a top position.

The rest wasted their time and money going to law school, and are a product of the law school racket, and are a plague on the profession and society.”

This post does not state that these are the views of BigLaw.  It states it in a manner that indicates that it is your own opinion.

You keep saying that the post is not about you.  That may be, but the post is certainly about what you have posted as (apparently) your opinion.  Don’t attempt to deflect valid criticism by disclaiming “Please stay on topic. This is not about me.”

By Non-Practicing Attorney on 2013 08 16, 2:09 pm CDT

@20 (truth),

And again, in your post at 18, you state, “Please stay on topic. BigLaw pays big bucks because there actually very few smart, talented graduates qualified for a top position.”

You state this as if it is fact,  You do not qualify the statement as being the view of BigLaw.

When you post something as a fact, you should be open to the refutation of your statement.

By Non-Practicing Attorney on 2013 08 16, 2:13 pm CDT

Dear “truth” - The truth is that most law grads are fungible. That was a hard thing for me to realize.

Most of the people I went to law school with were extremely bright, thoughtful, and hardworking. Most of them were good enough for “Big Law” firms. The truth is that big firms—much like Justice Scalia, who made blunt comments about this a while back in the context of hiring clerks—need to both justify their hiring decisions and place limits on them. So they focus on “top tier” schools and “top tier” students. Then if someone doesn’t pan out, it’s that person’s fault, not the fault of any risk the firm took.

In any event, I’m not sure the bras ring is worth it. It’s disturbing to me that the BigLaw people I have encountered are almost like robots. I understand why lawyers need to be conservative, in a profession where every spoken word can be a basis for liability or malpractice (or career harm), but the BigLaw folk seem to stifle their own humanity.

I think a lot of the people who are annoyed by BigLaw, or the BigLaw process, don’t really want to work there, but want the prestige or self-satisfaction of having made the cut—being one of the chosen ones. That’s part of what the law school experience teaches a student to want. It’s better to let that go, know internally that external validation is nice but not necessary, and focus on what you really would like to do.

By Hawaiian Shirt on 2013 08 16, 2:24 pm CDT

Truth why are you posting on the ABA’s site?  I find it amusing to listen to these opinions about the legal profession from non lawyers.  Isn’t there not a site for “retired business persons and honors graduates from the Wharton School” who would appreciate your insights?

By AGB on 2013 08 16, 2:38 pm CDT

The article fails to mention that to qualify for such salary, one must graduate at top 1% of top law school and be related to partner working at the firm or wealthy client. That’s the reality!

By ira on 2013 08 16, 3:03 pm CDT

@21, this is a blog post, not a thesis; “qualified” for BigLaw means hired by BigLaw. I disagree that there is an abundance of qualified candidates. Other than the salary paid as an economic indicator, I do not see how that question could be answered in a quantified way to make a fact. Other than grads actually hired for $145,000, the rest is opinion.

The rest waste their time if BigLaw is the only reason to go to law school. There is a law school racket. If you doubt this fact, check around and get back to me. An oversupply of under qualified (or what ever term suits you) lawyers charging above average rents for paper shuffling is a
plague, a drain, harmful, not productive, etc., on the profession and society, see Life Without Lawyers by attorney Philip K Howard.

You could take judicial notice too, like most nonlawyers do. Judicial notice:

“A doctrine of evidence applied by a court that allows the court to recognize and accept the existence of a particular fact commonly known by persons of average intelligence without establishing its existence by admitting evidence in a civil or criminal action.” - the free dictionary

Fine, after you criticize me, then offer something constructive and on topic.

@22 okay, if that makes you happy.

@23 Yes, thank you that most law grads are fungible, but I disagree that they are fungible for BigLaw.

Yes, “I understand why lawyers need to be conservative, in a profession where every spoken word can be a basis for liability or malpractice (or career harm), but the BigLaw folk seem to stifle their own humanity.” Which is why America needs less and better lawyers, along with a reduction in reliance on law to run everything, see Life Without Lawyers by attorney Philip K Howard. A million lawyers churning paper at $200-$1000+ per hour is killing our society. 

Yes, “I think a lot of the people who are annoyed by BigLaw, or the BigLaw process, don’t really want to work there, but want the prestige or self-satisfaction of having made the cut—being one of the chosen ones.” Yes, an ego trip that the rest of us must pay for.

@24 as a member of the public the ABA equally serves me. I am also interested in the CDR.

The American Bar Association’s Mission:

To serve equally our members, our profession and the public by defending liberty and delivering justice as the national representative of the legal profession.

http://www.americanbar.org/utility/about_the_aba/aba-mission-goals.html

ABA Commission on Disability Rights (CDR)

The Commission advocates for the legal rights of persons with disabilities, seeking to eliminate the obstacles created by stigma and prejudice based on stereotypes and to ensure their equal participation and meaningful inclusion in society.

http://www.americanbar.org/groups/disabilityrights/about_us.html

Why are people so upset that Greenberg pays $145,000 to a raw recruit anyway? Jealousy?

By truth on 2013 08 16, 3:52 pm CDT

let’s not forget what BigLaw demands of young associates with that price tag. No thank you, i want a life too.  I’ll keep my moderate salary so i can enjoy life

By joe2 on 2013 08 16, 3:54 pm CDT

I can’t believe I just wasted 18 minutes reading this drivel…

By Russell on 2013 08 16, 6:29 pm CDT

@26 (truth),

“this is a blog post, not a thesis; “qualified” for BigLaw means hired by BigLaw. I disagree that there is an abundance of qualified candidates.”

How does being a blog post negate the need for accuracy?

And how does this being a blog post give you the power to define terms (e.g., qualified) as anything other than their normal meaning?

And, even if I would concede your right to do so, your failure to address the definition of “qualified” until post 26 makes the entire thread an exercise in futility.

I don’t know what misfortune you have suffered at the hands of “a plague on the profession and society” (your words, from item 3), but I sincerely hope that you are able to put it behind you in the very near future.

I am beginning to see indications of your disability.

By Non-Practicing Attorney on 2013 08 16, 7:30 pm CDT

Hey Truth, the truth is—you’re confusing intelligence with “talent”.  Just because someone goes to a top law school, doesn’t mean they’ll be a good lawyer—and they definitely haven’t demonstrated anything indicating talent. 

As a non-lawyer, you are entirely not qualified to opine about the legal profession.  You would have to be the Hiring or Managing Partner at Cravath (Davis Polk, Skadden, etc.) and practicing for 30 years to be credible.  So “know your role and shut your mouth!”  LOOL

But I see what’s going on here.  Since you’re from a small town, you’re probably amazed that you’re as smart as you are.  You probably often think “how did that happen?”  But then again. maybe you got in because you grew up poor.  That would constitute diversity at Wharton, you know.

By Equine on 2013 08 17, 6:10 am CDT

I think @truth must be an ABA plant to generate controversy because his argument is so completely idiotic.  Hell, he’s not even a lawyer, what does know about the practice of law?  I bet he watched a few good Law & Orders, maybe a Ally Mcbeal and well let’s not forgot LA Law, I take it back he is supremely qualified.  I

I do like his comment..“as a member of the public the ABA equally serves me…” yeah…well not really no.  You happen to be a beneficiary of my annual dues payment and my losing income by going to the HOD and voting on issues that matter to lawyers (and as an ancillary benefit to the public).

By Walter Sobcheck on 2013 08 17, 10:32 pm CDT

@27 Yes joe2, thank you.

@28 Yes Russell, agreed, and this is why the profession continues to decline.

@29 “How does being a blog post negate the need for accuracy?” I am accurate, and BigLaw agrees with me. You, and a few apparent malcontents, are the odd folks out.

“And how does this being a blog post give you the power to define terms (e.g., qualified) as anything other than their normal meaning?”

Qualified people get hired, that is the normal meaning. Not sure I have any extra “power” on a blog post, but if so, put it under a Fourteenth Amendment liberty interest.

Again, qualified people get hired, that is the normal meaning. Remember, I am a business person, an entrepreneur, and a nonlawyer, normal ordinary normal person. Normal folks don’t spend this much effort parsing the word “qualified”. In fact, many find it annoying and wasteful, see comment 28 Russell.

No misfortune. I had success in business, and see an opportunity in the broken legal system, which harms people and society through inequality and protected markets, using asymmetric information, followed by rent-seeking and more inequality. The opportunity is to make a better legal system. For the third or fourth time, I did not express my opinion about whether BigLaw is correct in its business model, just that BL has a reason for the things it does, like paying a raw recruit $145,000.

Joseph Stiglitz was awarded the 2001 Nobel Prize in economics for his analysis of markets with asymmetric information. (Shared with George Akerlof, Berkley, and Michael Spence, Stanford). Inequality is not just morally repugnant but also has material costs. When the legal regime governing our economy is designed poorly, it facilitates rent-seeking and inequality - and our legal regime is very poorly designed. You may want to read this NY Times piece last month by Stiglitz about how intellectual properly reinforces inequality.

How Intellectual Property Reinforces Inequality
http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/07/14/how-intellectual-property-reinforces-inequality/

Here is a link to Stiglitz’s Nobel Prize “for their analyses of markets with asymmetric information”.
http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/economic-sciences/laureates/2001/press.html

Are you interested in reform? It may be very difficult for someone in the profession to think in new ways.

“I am beginning to see indications of your disability.”

Yes, thank you. You may want to read “A First Rate Madness” by Nassir Ghaemi, and the links between leadership and “disability”.

—————————————

@30, I was 29 years old and wealthy when I first entered Wharton. I recall driving to class in a new Jaguar convertible. I am of ordinary intelligence. And it was the Evening Division, which closed, unfortunately, in 2006 after 104 years of continuous operation. Also unfortunate, my commercial law professor was later jailed on contempt and disbarred, see below.

—————————————

@31 Walter Sobcheck, sorry, I don’t generally watch television, especially not law and police shows, because as you inferred, its nonsense.

Actually over the course of my business career, and after, I have hired many lawyers, and likely paid more in attorney’s fees than you made last year, even if you had a very good year, which I have no reason to believe otherwise. Unfortunately one of them, my commercial law professor, and later my attorney, was jailed 6 months on contempt over $50K missing from a trust fund of a an elderly widow, and disbarred. I still recall visiting him in a minimum security facility, where he still blamed an accounting glitch. Very sad. Nice guy, great professor, but ended badly. 

Yes, agreed in part, “as a member of the public the ABA equally serves me…” yeah…well not really no.  You happen to be a beneficiary of my…”

The ABA’s idea of “equally serves” the public is the equivalent of “trickle down” economics, a discredited theory. The ABA serves the profession, as shown below, and any benefit is a secondary or “trickle down” result. 

The ABA achieves its mission through tireless work toward four goals.
Goal I:  Serve Our Members.
Goal II: Improve Our Profession.
Goal III: Eliminate Bias and Enhance Diversity.
Goal IV:  Advance the Rule of Law.

http://www.americanbar.org/utility/about_the_aba/aba-mission-goals.html

By truth on 2013 08 18, 2:15 am CDT

@32 (truth),

Merriam Webster defines qualified as “fitted (as by training or experience) for a given purpose : competent”.  In no way does the definition make being hired a condition of being qualified.

You continue to defy the principles of syllogistic reasoning.  Your conclusions are, therefore, unsustainable.

By Non-Practicing Attorney on 2013 08 18, 6:57 pm CDT

@33 Non-Practicing Attorney

Raw recruits have “legal education” or a “law degree”, but not “training or experience”, so that definition does not apply here. See the definition below from Black’s Law Dictionary, 6th Edition. “One who has mental or physical ability to perform requirements of job.” The “mental or physical ability to perform requirements of job” is best determined by one who was actually hired for the $145,000 job. So “qualified” as I used the word best fits this particular usage.

“Qualified. Adapted; fitted; entitled; susceptible; capable; competent; fitting; possessing legal power or capacity; eligible; as a “qualified voter” (q.v.). Applied to one who has taken the steps to prepare himself for an appointment or office, as by taking oath, giving bond, etc. One who has a particular status through some endowment, acquisition, or achievement, or it may describe
one who has obtained appropriate legal power or capacity by taking an oath, completing a form, or complying with some other routine requirement. Lehner v. Crane Co., D.C.Pa., 448 F.Supp. 1127, 1135. One who has mental or physical ability to perform requirements of job, office, or the like. Also means limited; restricted; confined; modified; imperfect; or temporary.”

Unfortunately you continue to demonstrate why ordinary people, and a number of lawyers, are annoyed with this drivel.

BTW, please get a law dictionary.

By truth on 2013 08 18, 9:15 pm CDT

Biff gets it.  As for “truth,” we all know there’s a 90%+ chance he ends up on the scrap heap before seven years have passed, and an equal chance he will never be allowed to work as primary counsel on any case or transaction during that entire time period.  That he apparently likes that deal reveals the level of intellect and value of his comments.

By B. McLeod on 2013 08 19, 7:44 am CDT

Let’s go back to the middle ages.  We SHOULD have classes in society right?

By SME on 2013 08 19, 2:43 pm CDT

Comment removed by moderator.

By Non-Practicing Attorney on 2013 08 19, 5:14 pm CDT

Not that I disagree, but personal attacks are prohibited by the Comment Policy.  It would probably be OK to repost with the “i” word removed.

B. MCLEOD
NOT ON ABA STAFF

By B. McLeod on 2013 08 19, 5:28 pm CDT

@38 (B. McLeod),

Is there a method for me to delete or edit my previous post (37)?  I’m not aware of how to accomplish the action.

Thanks for pointing out my oversight.

By Non-Practicing Attorney on 2013 08 19, 7:46 pm CDT

Totally exasperating to try to argue with someone who refuses to remain consistent in his arguments - he first asks that the normal meaning of qualified be used.  Once provided (and when it doesn’t back up his assertions), he then decides that the definition from Black’s Law Dictionary should be used.

I don’t have the patience to respond to this blogger any further.

By Non-Practicing Attorney on 2013 08 19, 7:48 pm CDT

Once on a BigLaw layoff story, I posted a comment that later updates showed to be unfair, so I flagged my own comment and requested that it be removed.

By B. McLeod on 2013 08 19, 9:43 pm CDT

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