- What the New White House Counsel Made Last Year. New White House counsel Robert Bauer made just under $1 million last year as the head of the political law group at Perkins Coie, according to a financial disclosure form he filed this month. Bauer reported $958,788 in salary and bonuses from the firm, where he was a partner in its Washington office. That's almost 20 percent above the firm's 2009 profits per equity partner of $802,111, as reported this month by The AmLaw Daily. He also reported $14,000 in speaking honoraria and a $7,500 fee from teaching at Yale University last spring. Bauer, who started at the White House in late December and succeeded Gregory Craig, reported household investment assets worth between $2.38 million and $5.55 million. It’s a good thing that Bauer has such a nice nest egg stashed away, because he is now slated to earn about earned $172,200 per year - the highest salary paid to any of the White House counsels, and what his predecessor Craig earned last year (see our previous Blog post "What Do White House Lawyers Earn?"' It’s not bad by any standard, but these attorneys are clearly not in it for the money. Craig had also left a very lucrative private practice with the Washington, D.C.-based law firm of Williams & Connolly, where he was earning $1.7 million a year. It is refreshing to see attorneys motivated by other things besides the bottom line when making a career move. The National Law Journal
- Levi Slashes its Outside Counsel. Levi Strauss has been busy making cuts, and we’re not talking about jeans either. Last spring Levi Strauss & Co. cut the number of outside law firms that it uses down to just two — one of the most sweeping reductions yet by a large company. The lucky survivors were: Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe to handle all of the worldwide legal work, and Townsend and Townsend and Crew for its global intellectual property matters. General counsel Hilary Krane said that in addition to yielding improved work at lower cost from her outside firms, the deals have also had a side benefit: better performance from her staff attorneys. While this may come across as sweeping reform by a clothing giant, this may signal a new trend for companies: fewer outside counsels to assist better-staffed in-house legal departments. Corporate Counsel
- SEC Says BofA GC Didn't Get Fired Over Legal Advice. The Securities and Exchange Commission is going against the generally accepted speculation that former Bank of America general counsel Timothy Mayopoulos was fired because of his unwelcomed legal advice regarding the merger. In a court filing on Wednesday, the SEC says Mayopoulos got fired to create a position for Brian Moynihan in an effort to keep him from leaving, according to stories in the New York Law Journal and the Wall Street Journal Law Blog. Moynihan served as general counsel for 44 days before taking over as CEO. The SEC position reinforces congressional testimony by Moynihan that, before his appointment as general counsel, he had planned to leave Bank of America because he was not pleased with the position he would get after the merger. Yeah, right! The SEC’s conclusion lacks fundamental logical credibility! Here's the story: GC gives advice executives do not want made public, GC gets escorted out of the building 24 hours later, and is subsequently treated like a pariah. Despite receiving excellent reviews during his tenure at BofA, Mayopoulos was given little love after he was told to pack his stuff and leave. When Mayopoulos reached out to two of the bank's executives to obtain references to try and find a new job, he was snubbed by one and got a cool reaction from the other. Th internal dialogue was probably something like this: A reference? Yeah, you did a great job for us, but I'm not sure we can do that for you. You know, rules and all. Good luck though. I'd hate to see how Mayopoulos would have been treated had he not done a good job. ABA Journal
- Ford Gets Mileage Out of Fewer Lawyers. When Ford's sales collapsed — from 2006 to 2008, and the company lost a cumulative $30 billion, something had to be done. The response: Laying off a third of its 300,000 employees worldwide. The Company’s In-House Legal Department was no exception to these cuts. Ford's general counsel David Leitch made the painful move of slashing his staff by 40 percent, from 200 lawyers to 120. His department continues to perform at the same level, he said. And it hasn't increased its use of outside lawyers to make up for the loss of in-house attorneys. However, while Ford’s attorneys “have adapted, and are more efficient and effective than they ever thought they could be" when the economy turns around, Leitch will have a new challenge on his hand. If your car takes on a lot of mileage, it’s bound to break down sooner rather than later. If you want your car to keep performing at a high level, you’ll either need to ease up on it, or get a new one. The same can be said about employees who’ve been asked to “do more with less,” over a long period of time. His overworked counsels will probably be the first to look for greener pastures, and he will need to either up his internal numbers or use of outside counsel to keep up with demands. Corporate Counsel
With top tier firms shedding associates and in-house legal departments tightening their belts, it’s a tough time for young attorneys to enter the workforce. But there are ways to stand out from the pack. Here, experts offer their tips for making an impression and snagging—and keeping—your dream legal job.
- Be a yes man: Especially in a rough economy, it’s critical for young attorneys to fulfill their bosses’ requests with enthusiasm, says Ann-Marie Neville, a managing director in MLA’s New York office. “You have to step up in this market, because guess what—if you don’t, [your manager] is going to turn to somebody else,” she says.
- Keep your eyes open: It’s important for young lawyers not only to complete assigned tasks but also anticipate what clients and co-workers need from them, says Neda Khatamee, a managing director in Major Lindsey & Africa’s New York office. “Be available, but also really be able to dance to everyone’s tune, from your partners to associates in your own class,” she says. Adds Neville, “Always be prepared to be the best possible associate who’s ready to be in front of the partner’s best client.”
- Network: Your law school drinking buddies may one day turn out to be your best asset, Khatamee says. Building your network of both colleagues and clients early is one of the keys to growing and advancing as an attorney.
- Respect your elders: While it’s great to bring new ideas to the work place, pause to learn why tradition dictates certain practices in your office, says Cam Marston, president and founder of the consulting firm Generational Insights. “No one’s going to care how you want to change it until you prove you know why it’s there in the first place,” he says.
- Stick it out: “Patience is a virtue you can never have too much of,” says Vanessa Vidal, president of ESQ Recruiting. Though it may be tempting to bolt for another firm with flashier perks, she says a resumé dotted with too many jobs in too few years is a red flag to future employers. Though career moves may eventually be necessary to advance, make a commitment to the firm or department you start with until you encounter an opportunity too good to pass up. When your ideal job appears, a track record of loyalty will position you well to sail through the hiring process.