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Clifford Chance, Covington, Chadbourne: Business of Law

Three of the U.K.’s highest-grossing law firms raised salaries for London lawyers, who can earn as much as 65,000 pounds ($99,000) in their first year after qualifying to practice.

Clifford Chance LLP said on June 4 it would increase pay for newly qualified lawyers by about 3 percent, to 63,500 pounds, while Linklaters LLP raised those rates 4 percent to 64,000 pounds. Slaughter and May also raised pay for that level about 2 percent to 63,000 pounds. Allen & Overy LLP and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP kept salaries unchanged.

“The London office has had another successful year,” said Clifford Chance partner David Bickerton.

The Magic Circle, comprising the five largest and most profitable British law firms, cut or froze pay over several years as deal work dried up during the financial crisis that began in 2008. While the salaries of junior lawyers are rising again, they lag behind their New York counterparts, who make as much as $160,000 in their first year.

About six in 10 U.K. lawyers received a pay raise in 2012, according to a survey by recruitment firm Robert Walters Plc. Nearly 70 percent of those got an increase of less than 6 percent.

“It’s certainly looking up,” said Nick Shillinglaw, a legal recruiter at Michael Page International Plc in London. “There’s more confidence in the market now.”

Finance and niche practices, such as intellectual property litigation or tax, are attracting the highest salary offers, he said.

Law firms are under pressure to pay junior lawyers competitively while not angering clients, who have had increased leverage during the economic downturn to pressure firms to lower their bills.

“We believe this strikes the right balance between rewarding our associates with increased scales at the same time as recognizing that economic conditions remain tough,” Richard Clark, the executive partner at Slaughter and May, said in an e-mail.

Law Firm News

Federal Election Commission General Counsel Rejoins Covington

Federal Election Commission General Counsel Tony Herman is returning to Covington & Burling LLP.

“We are delighted to welcome Tony back to Covington,” Timothy Hester, chairman of the firm’s management committee, said in a statement.

At the FEC, Mr. Herman was responsible for managing approximately 100 lawyers in the Office of General Counsel’s four divisions. He led a major restructuring of the office that resulted in improved efficiency and work quality.

“I enjoyed working at the FEC during an important juncture in the nation’s election cycle, but I look forward to returning to Covington, a truly unique and wonderful law firm,” Mr. Herman said.

Herman’s litigation practice has included intellectual property and technology, employment, food and drug and general commercial litigation.

Moves at Hogan Lovells and Chadbourne & Parke

Hogan Lovells LLP yesterday announced the addition of three partners from Chadbourne & Parke LLP to its litigation and arbitration practice, while Chadbourne named a new head of its arbitration practice.

Oliver J. Armas, who had been co-head of Chadbourne’s international arbitration group, and Phoebe A. Wilkinson, the former co-head of Chadbourne’s product liability group, will join Hogan Lovells in New York. Luis Enrique Graham, a litigation and arbitration practitioner, will be resident in Mexico City, with a significant presence in New York.

“This team offers strategic experience in international arbitration and products liability for a diverse range of clients,” Warren Gorrell, co-chief executive officer of Hogan Lovells, said in a statement.

Chadbourne & Parke yesterday named Mark Beckett as its new head of the firm’s international arbitration practice.

“International arbitration is a core strength of our firm, and we are very excited about Mark’s new role in leading the group,” Andrew Giaccia, Chadbourne’s managing partner, said in a statement. Beckett, along with partner Rachel Thorn, one counsel and two associates joined Chadbourne from Latham & Watkins LLP in December.

Nixon Peabody Partner Becomes President of New York Bar

The New York State Bar Association, the nation’s largest voluntary bar association with 76,000 members, has selected Nixon Peabody LLP partner David M. Schraver as its next president. Schraver, whose term began on June 1st, will serve as the 116th president in the bar association’s history.

Schraver plans to focus much of his one-year term on the future of legal education and the profession at a time when many law school graduates are shouldering six-figure student loans and facing uncertain job prospects. Under the theme of “Serving the Profession, Serving the Public,” he plans to engage law school educators, practicing attorneys, judges and others in a yearlong examination of how best to prepare new attorneys for a changing profession.

“It is critical that the state bar continue the momentum we’ve gained on many issues, as well as be prepared to address other matters as they arise. Our association needs to be focused and flexible in dealing with issues within our profession and in the communities we serve,” Schraver said in a statement.

Schraver will continue to represent his clients while serving as NYSBA president. His practice includes a broad range of complex civil and commercial litigation in state and federal courts, with a special emphasis on Indian law, energy/utilities litigation, contract litigation, and fiduciary and professional liability.

Kilpatrick Townsend Adds Partner to Insurance Recovery Team

Mary Craig Calkins has joined the Los Angeles office of Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP as a partner in the firm’s insurance recovery team. She had been a partner at Jenner & Block LLP.

“Mary adds exceptional depth to an already strong team,” said Helen Michael, co-head of the insurance recovery team. “We have been looking to continue to grow our group on the West Coast and Mary is among the most recognized and highly regarded leaders in our field. Kilpatrick Townsend clients will be the beneficiaries of her expertise.”

Calkins is a litigator who focuses on complex commercial litigation and insurance recovery for policyholders. She has extensive experience concerning directors’ and officers’ liability, entertainment and intellectual property claims, construction defects, e-commerce and technology claims, first party property and business interruption losses, and broker liability issues.


At ABA Conference, Law Firms Said to Watch Privilege Cases

A handful of closely watched cases currently under review by state supreme courts may signal the fate of a long-running campaign to expand protection for internal law firm communications regarding potential malpractice suits.

For over two decades, courts routinely rejected law firms’ efforts to shield internal communications about potential malpractice liability to their clients. Lower courts have in recent years moved away from that rule, and some of those cases are now pending before the highest courts in several jurisdictions.

A May 31 panel at the 39th ABA National Conference of Professional Responsibility, held in San Antonio, said the cases could allow lawyers to keep confidential communications within the firm when the firm faces malpractice.

The program was moderated by Mark L. Tuft, a partner at Cooper, White & Cooper LLP, and included three other participants who focus on attorney liability matters: John C. Koski, general counsel of Dentons US LLP, Merri A. Baldwin, a partner at Rogers Joseph O’Donnell PC, and Allison D. Rhodes, a partner at Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP.

The panel focused on measures law firms can take to avoid being compelled to turn over damaging internal communications absent judicial recognition of a privilege to keep these communications confidential.

The panel, for example, suggested that if a firm filed a lawsuit that was dismissed as untimely, the firm should withdraw from the matter. If withdrawal is impossible, the firm can ask the client to consent to the firm’s engaging in internal, privileged communications about its potential liability.

“That letter, if properly drafted, also solves the problem,” Rhodes said at the panel. She added that firms increasingly seek such consent before problems arise.

For more, click here.


Law School Applications Down Except for Top Schools

It’s easier to be admitted to law school these days because fewer people want to be lawyers, according to data about the entering Class of 2012 released by the American Bar Association and the Law School Admissions Council.

Bloomberg Law crunched the numbers, but surprising aspects remain about law school admissions.

The number of applications this year for full-time programs fell 12 percent, to 444,000. Applications were down at most schools, but they increased at 25 schools.

To see the video, click here.

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