Congrats,  associates!  Don’t spend it all in one place.

Cravath & Davis Polk associates are raking it in, and everyone’s got an opinion.  Here’s some data to explain how & why the new associate pay scale is a rational move in a functioning market.


Earlier this week, Cravath made waves at every trade media outlet with their 2022 salary scale:

Cravath’s announcement came on the heels of Milbank and Davis Polk each raising the stakes in the ongoing war for associate talent.  (See “Milbank Ups Associate Salaries to $215,000 in War for Talent (2),” Bloomberg Law, January 20, 2022, and “Davis Polk ups senior associate salaries in latest round of pay war,” Reuters, February 22, 2022.).  Before the close of the week, a flurry of memos followed, with a predictable roster of prestige firms matching the new top-of-market scale: Davis Polk, Paul Weiss, Kirkland, Latham, Simpson Thacher, Quinn, Skadden, Debevoise, Ropes, Shearman, Covington, White & Case, Sidley, Paul Hastings, McDermott, Boies Schiller, among others.  (See “Salary Wars Scorecard: Firms That Have Announced Raises (2022),” Above the Law, updated March 4, 2022).

Notably, Milbank has yet to respond to despite racing to first mover position in 2018 and again this year.  Also notably, Morgan Lewis is prudently sitting out the betting rounds, with a promise to monitor and match the prevailing scale once set.
Continue Reading #BadData, Part II: As the War for Talent Rages On, Let the Sorting Begin (290)


“Be engaged, interested in what others have to say. It’s more important to listen than to speak.”


I had the opportunity to discuss legal outsourcing with Colin Levy, who embodies the skills and mindset of the modern T-shaped legal professional.

Colin and I work on opposite ends of the spectrum: he’s an attorney who’s experienced first-hand how outsourcing to an ALSP can impact his career and place of employment. In contrast, I have expertise in helping law firms find and work with ALSPs. When law firms or legal departments choose to outsource to ALSPs, often, no jobs are lost. However, sometimes an ALSP can replace certain functions. I thought it would be interesting to hear one attorney’s perspective on whether ALSPs are a threat to attorney job security in the legal industry.

Below are notes from our discussion.
Continue Reading Legal careers in the age of outsourcing: A conversation with Colin Levy (288)


Layering in a new set of skills and know-how in an already crowded law school curriculum.


Last week, the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) acquired the Institute for the Future of Law Practice (IFLP).  From far away, many lawyers, law professors, and law students are bound to ask, “Why is the maker of the LSAT, which has been part of the legal education landscape for 70+ years, acquiring a fledging nonprofit start-up focused future of law practice?”

The answer is that LSAC and IFLP saw a clear pathway to benefit future generations of legal professionals in their work with clients and broader society.  Although some readers may question such a lofty purpose, we believe that as a self-regulated legal profession, it is our obligation to foster and maintain a legal system that works for all citizens and upholds the rule of law.  Only then is lasting prosperity possible, both for lawyers and broader society, and the promise of equal justice more within reach.
Continue Reading Special Post: LSAC acquisition of IFLP explained (275)


Boomer retirements ought to be a boon for law school clinics.


The Hidden Brain podcast episode Cultivating Your Purpose begins with an effective metaphor that is well-known to aging Baby Boomers: Dustin Hoffman, playing Benjamin Braddock in “The Graduate,” is drifting aimlessly on a raft in a swimming pool, as he has been doing for weeks after graduating from college.  When Benjamin confirms to his father that he has no plans whatsoever for the future, Benjamin’s father leans over him and demands to know “what was the point of all of that hard work?” Benjamin responds, “you got me.”  Unfortunately, many Baby Boom lawyers are asking themselves the same question after they retire or approach retirement—“what’s the point?”
Continue Reading Could a purpose deficit fill unmet legal need? (273)


Millennials were already skeptical of the law firm model. Then the pandemic hit, reinforcing the legal profession’s worst tendencies. A walk through the data.


Law firm leaders generally underestimated the magnitude, duration, and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Like other experienced but untrained decision-makers, many law firm leaders were excessively optimistic about their firm’s prospects and conceptually limited in defining their firm’s risks.

Even the law firms that met or exceeded their financial aspirations now face a force stronger and more threatening to their business model than COVID-19: disaffected, disenchanted, and disappointed Millennial attorneys constituting nearly one-half of all attorneys in the 400 largest law firms. Thus, lawyers are very much a part of an upheaval in the nation’s workforce that Gallup calls the “The Great Discontent” and “The Great Resignation.”
Continue Reading Millennial attorneys, COVID-19, and innovation (260)


Pretty much everything was a counterintuitive curveball.


In April of 2006, more than 15 years ago, I wrote a memo to file that would go on to exert a disproportionately large impact on my thinking and career, albeit many of the lessons took years to come into focus and were far from what I expected.

The topic was Moneyball as applied to law firm associates—in essence, sketching out the data and methodology necessary to identify under and overvalued attributes of law firm associates, akin to the selection methods used by Oakland Athletics in the famous book by Michael Lewis.
Continue Reading Moneyball for law firm associates: a 15-year retrospective (257)


Len Fromm’s lawyer shares what he’s learned.


Positively Conflicted is the right book for any lawyer seeking a rich and fulfilling life, which is a larger category than one’s career.

According to the author, lawyer-meditator Sam Ardery, we get to this highly desirable endpoint by getting good at conflict. On one level, this makes sense, as we’re all in the conflict business. But Ardery’s definition of conflict is remarkably broad and includes the tensions and traumas of our personal, professional, and familial relations as well internal conflicts, where we stew over our inadequate supply of power, security, esteem, and comfort.
Continue Reading Positively Conflicted (book review) (252)


“One of the biggest myths in legal education is that there is more than enough well-paying work for anyone who has a law license.”


About ten years ago, through a connection made by Bill Henderson, I was invited to a gathering of law-school professors in Northern California.  I was still a manager of a global law firm at the time, and Bill thought that it would be useful to add a practitioner to the group, which otherwise comprised solely academics from around the US.  I remembered this conference recently as I read about the focused efforts of the Debevoise & Plimpton law firm starting in 2012 to bolster demand for its services after years of no growth or decline. See Dylan Jackson, “Debevoise Faced a Demand Crisis. Its Solution Required Change From the Ground Up,” Law.com, July 1, 2021.

The reason for the flashback was my laughed-at suggestion that law schools should add a course in sales and marketing to their curricula. 
Continue Reading Would sales & marketing in law school cross a red line? (251)

Lindy’s Delicatessen, 51st & Broadway, NYC (credit: Bertil Carlson, via Wikimedia Commons)

Yes. The Cravath System. The case method.  And much more.


Here’s the technical definition of the “Lindy effect“: The robustness of an idea or technology (anything nonperishable) is proportional to its longevity.

This post examines how we can observe the Lindy effect in many facets of life, including law.  Some of these are obvious, like the Cravath System and the Langdellian case method, which are both in their second century and show no signs of fading.  But are there durable aspects of life and business we are overlooking because, rather foolishly, we’re favoring what is novel, shiny, and hyped?
Continue Reading Does the Lindy effect apply to law? (244)


A. Using the wrong approach to innovation, followed by an effective one-by-one approach that did not scale.


The biggest mistake that I made as the US innovation lead at a global law firm was in trying to teach lawyers how to “do” innovation—how to do my job.  My intention was to empower them with NewLaw resources to better solve legal and business of law challenges for their clients.  I felt privileged to have this magic wand of innovation, of robust problem-solving, to offer them.  But I chose the wrong method at the outset.  And, unfortunately for my mandate, intention does not equal perception.
Continue Reading Q. What has been your biggest mistake as an innovation lead? (243)