Friday

Overpaid and overindulged...


How much do we think Mandy, Brian, Brittany and Ben give to charity?

Ah, it's time for my annual trip to the associate pay vomitorium.

In today's times, Ellen Rosen breathlessly discusses the fact that first year associates at big New York firms now start at 145,000 per year and that doesn't generally include a bonus which can add another five figures. Now it's not so much that I begrudge them the money, instead it's the reverence with which the times treats the absurd sums and the entitlement expressed by the 20-something recipients of the law firm largesse that really pisses me off.

The truth is, associate salaries aren't actually a proxy for skill or ability if they were, they wouldn't be about what a justice of the United States Supreme Court makes, or about twice as much as I made as the Trial Chief of one of the best public defender offices in the country. And while I don't regret a day of the nearly 15 years I spent being a PD, I am disturbed at what I think are the deeply perverse incentive structures that salaries like this create.

11 comments:

M. Brenner, Esq. said...

Oh, Dave....my lesbian lover....when will you ever try a case? 2001? no. 2002? no. 2003? no. 2004? no. 2005? no. 2006? no. Actions speak louder than words, sweetcheeks.

Marky Pooh

Anonymous said...

If firms didn't pay this much money, almost no one would agree to work at these places or do this kind of work. Maybe it's a perverse compliment rather than a perverse incentive. PD offices don't need to pay us as much for the work we do because we get something else out of it.

Anonymous said...

I don’t really see why it is perverse. Something is expected out of these kids. They are expected to: 1) provide the firm with some paperwork showing that they sucked up enough in law school; and 2) stay at the firm late enough pretending to work. They are able to exercise very little control over what cases they take, and most of them learn very few practical skills. (For example, it isn’t uncommon to see them spend an entire 18 month tenure working on some international anti-trust litigation, which never goes to trial.)

They give up something. They get something back. Most of them don’t stay in those positions for too long.

Georgiana said...

How much is the price of a soul? Maybe they are not paid nearly enough.

Anon said...

. . . . Brenner, you are a moron! I've defended over 100 felony jury trials in some pretty tough jurisdictions. Those include a couple of dozen murder trials. I know a trial lawyer when I see one. I am proud to say that I frequently work with David Feige. He is a great trial lawyer!

. . . . I don't know what your problem is, Mr. Brenner, but it is clearly more than mere jealousy. My experience with those of your ilk is usually within the attorney client relationship. I have read your rantings, both in this blog and in the reviews you have posted. At first, I found them amusing . . . something to anticipate. But over time I have come to realize that you are truly the kind of lunatic who is a danger to others. I pray you find some help for your troubled mind.

. . . . I sign my comments "anon" because I suspect I know a number of others who follow David's commentaries, and I do not want to appear to be showing off for our mutual friends.

. . . . By the way, I frequently disagree with David's views, but I have enough sense not to show my ass every time I express myself. Who knows -- if I speak with rational words, I may change someone's mind rather than confirm their opinion about me.

Anonymous said...

Georgiana, Keep in mind that the souls are only being rented.

brandon.music said...

Why assume their souls are taken?

Why can't they both as passionate about their job as a PD?

I'm sure, afterall, you could imagine a Big-Firm lawyer using the same argument against public defender (cept substitute money for the "warm, fuzzy" feeling).

Anonymous said...

Brandon, Because most of us have worked in large firms, and we know what it is like. Most – but not all – of them are just not as passionate about their jobs as public defenders.

There is incredible turnover at large law firms, especially amongst junior associates, because, quite frankly, they would rather be doing something else. Perhaps they want to work fewer hours. Perhaps they want to do different work. Perhaps they don’t like the subject matter.

Now, there are people at large law firms that are passionate about their work. But, while they are well-paid, they are not the young associates pictured above. Indeed, for the most part, they stay out of the “look at how awesome my firm is” race, and concentrate on representation of their clients.

To be fair, some prosecutors are passionate about their work. Some are passionate for very bad reasons: they like putting people in jail, and they get a strange thrill out of it. Some are passionate for better reasons: they feel that they can use their judgment to provide people with “justice.” Some are passionate for, reasons that I like, but won’t give the public much comfort: they are there to get experience, that they will later use to defend corporations or indigent people.

123txpublicdefender123 said...

Been there. Done that. Wouldn't do it again if they paid me twice as much. (Although it did help me pay off my law school loans and a new car in just 4 years). I spent 75% of my two years working as the junior lawyer (in a case that six lawyers were actively working on) on a nationwide antitrust case that had been filed 4 years before I started and still hadn't gone to trial by the time I left. No thank you.

Eddie Merkin said...

Amen....as a former "big firmer" now PD, the only talent that is learned at these firms is how to bill 18 hours into a 10 hour day and reading/copying depositions. Yet, we are disparaged for representing "criminals"; all the while these kids are co-conspirators in committing fraud by padding their hours....

Anonymous said...

this amount no doubt pales in comparison to what the firms make off them. would you prefer they make 80,000 and give the balance to the senior partners?