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Topics - Burning Sands, Esq.

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Black Law Students / Should Federal Judges Be Paid More?
« on: February 15, 2007, 03:39:16 PM »

Justice Kennedy says morale low over pay

By MARK SHERMAN, Associated Press Writer Wed Feb 14, 2:45 PM ET

WASHINGTON - Supreme Court Justice

Anthony Kennedy told Congress on Wednesday that first-rate federal judges are leaving because of inadequate pay, a problem he said hurts morale and threatens to undermine judicial independence.

Earnings at private law firms have outpaced judges' pay for many years, and Kennedy said judges now find better compensation at the leading law schools, as well.

"I'm losing my best judges," he said during a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He specifically cited U.S. District Judge David Levi, who is leaving as the chief federal judge in Sacramento, Calif., to become dean of Duke University's law school.

Kennedy worries that new judges, on the whole, are less qualified than the judges they are replacing.

Federal district court judges are paid $165,200 annually; appeals court judges make $175,100; associate justices of the Supreme Court earn $203,000; the chief justice gets $212,100.

Those figures are far less than what lawyers at private firms earn. District judges are paid about half that of deans and senior law professors at top schools.

Kennedy said "$160,000 sounds like a lot of money to the average American and it is. But it is insufficient to attract the finest members of the practicing bar to the bench."

Nineteen federal judges left their jobs since the end of 2004, many of them to take higher-paying jobs. Meanwhile, first-year lawyers at leading firms in large cities are earning almost as much as district judges.

Chief Justice John Roberts has made judges' pay the centerpiece of his efforts as head of the federal judiciary, calling the issue a "constitutional crisis."

Kennedy got a sympathetic reaction from Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the committee chairman, and Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., the senior Republican. The Senate has passed a bill they wrote this year that would boost judges' salaries to keep pace with the rate of inflation.

Legislation languished in Congress in 2006 that would have provided a 16 percent increase in federal judges' salaries.

But other senators suggested that judges already are handsomely compensated.

Sen. male private part Durbin, D-Ill., told Kennedy he recognized the lure of large paychecks was driving some judges into private firms, but he noted that judges already earn more than 95 percent of the population.

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker recently called for a significant pay raise for judges, pointing out that they would be earning $261,000 a year if their salaries had risen at the same pace as U.S. workers generally since 1969.

Kennedy also sparred with Specter over allowing television cameras at the Supreme Court. Specter has introduced legislation that would require the justices to televise their proceedings.

Kennedy, who has previously expressed his opposition, said cameras would damage the way justices relate to each other and lawyers during oral arguments.

"Please don't introduce into the dynamics I have with my colleagues the insidious temptation that one of my colleagues is trying to get a sound bite for the cameras. We don't want that," Kennedy said.

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said that in his experience as a Texas Supreme Court justice, the camera "was very unobtrusive."

Incoming 1Ls / NYC Biglaw Firms Begin to Raise Market Rate to $160k/yr
« on: January 22, 2007, 04:50:21 PM »

Breaking: Simpson Thacher Raises Associate Base Salaries!!!

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett has raised associate base salaries across the board, by $15,000 for every class. You heard it here first, people -- less than ten minutes after the memorandum was sent.


This Simpson Thacher memo was emailed to us by multiple sources. So we do not doubt its authenticity. It was sent out today by email, at 4:28 PM, by STB executive committee chairman Philip T. (Pete) Ruegger III, to all associates and non-senior counsel at the firm.

We are seeking additional comment from STB representatives -- namely, Pete Ruegger, who sent the memo, and Susan Bussy, who handles media inquiries. We will let you know if and when we hear back from them.

Without further ado, the memo:



The Firm has been very busy and we expect the high level of activity to continue. We are proud of the results we are helping our clients achieve.

We believe we have the finest legal team of any global law firm. In appreciation of your efforts, we are pleased to increase associate base salaries as follows, effective January 1, 2007:

Class of 2006 - $160,000

Class of 2005 - $170,000

Class of 2004 - $185,000

Class of 2003 - $210,000

Class of 2002 - $230,000

Class of 2001 - $250,000

Class of 2000 - $265,000

Class of 1999 - $280,000

Class of 1998 - $290,000

We are also raising the base salary for the members of the Class of 2007, who will arrive in the fall, to $160,000.

Counsel and classes senior to 1998 will be addressed on an individual basis.

Again, on behalf of the Firm, thank you for your commitment and hard work.

January 22, 2007

Pete Ruegger

Other firms will surely follow suit and match this base salary increase. As the various firms match, please note their moves in the comments. THANKS!!!

I know a few cats on here are going for sure.  Anybody else interested in going this year?

Here's some info:

The National Convention is quickly approaching in Atlanta, GA on March 21-25, 2007. I am sending a quick reminder of the follwing deadlines:


The Regular Registration Period ends on January 31, 2007. To enjoy the lowest fee still available please register by this date. (, 1.) click on conventions at the bottom of the screen; 2.) click on Register for the 2007 39th Annual NBLSA Convention Now at the right of the screen) 


Hotel Reservation Block ends on February 14, 2007 and is subject to availability. To reserve your room please book it as soon as possible. (, 1.) click on conventions at the bottom of the screen; 2.) click on registration fees at the right of the screen; 3.) click on the starwood link at the bottom of the screen)


I will continue sending regular reminders and updates regarding the convention and all the great things you can look forward to in Atlanta, GA. Thanks for your attention and God Bless.


Yours in BLSA,

Michael T. Sterling,

National Chair



For more info visit

Black Law Students / Recent Ban Issue
« on: December 17, 2006, 01:31:07 PM »
Fellow BLSD Members,

as you may recall, about a few months back we collectively came up with the following rules of self governance:

BLSD RULE #1: No discussions of Affirmative Action. (There is a separate thread for that topic)
BLSD RULE #2: Non-blacks are welcome to post messages.
BLSD RULE #3: No racial slurs or epithets will be tolerated. (Try to remain professional at all times; have fun and try to keep it clean)
BLSD RULE #4: No lewd/obscene pics please.
This board will be moderated in the following manner:

The substantive regulation of the board:

    * Exercise Respect towards each other
    * Exercise Tolerance towards each other's posts/expressions
    * Distinguish between Personal Harassment/Troll/Flame Posts and Merely Obnoxious/Subjectively Offensive Posts
    * Remove Personal Harassment/Trolls/Flames from the BLSD

The procedural regulation of the board:

    * Objectively offensive posts shall be removed to the Hate board initially
    * Personally harassing posts shall be removed to the Hate board and/or deleted as a last resort
    * In the instance of a good thread gone awry, care shall be taken to remove only those specific posts in violation
    * In the instance of a thread created in violation from its beginning, remove the entire thread
    * "Objectively Offensive" may be determined by either the subject of the attack (if there is one) or the moderator, with the advice of members of the board

To be clear on the matter, I took little issue with Opoto's jokes or insults.  People joke all the time. People argue all the time.  People even throw shots at each other all the time.  That's really not what concerned me.  What did concern me was his threat of future retaliation and escalating a matter that had, already by that point, gotten out of hand.  I viewed this behavior as harassment coming from a poster who has a history of disrespecting others (in particular newbies).  In short, Opoto was already on thin ice, even for a long time poster.  Indeed, there have been many complaints made by other posters with regards to his persistent breaking of Rule #3 above. 

However, there is something to be said for my participation in the back-and-forth.  Even though moderators do have the ability to take recourse against harassing posters, an appearance of impropriety can definitely emerge when the subject involved is the moderator.  Moreover, even if Opoto was on thin ice, my words arguably played a part in what he ended up doing, thus I cannot realistically place all of the blame on Opoto for how the situation played out. He may have also viewed my behavior as harassment and responded in turn, as most would, to being harassed. 

Nevertheless, the fact remains that even though we have outlined the rules above on harassing posts and objectively offensive behavior, the position was not made clear to Opoto before placing him under temporary ban.  I never gave actual notice that, given his general past offensiveness towards others, I viewed his current statements as harassment.  For that reason, I feel it is proper to remove the ban. 

We have all agreed in the above rules that harassing and/or offensive posts can end up resulting in the removal and ban of an individual from the thread, however, after discussing with many posters off-line, I must agree that notice should be given before taking such action.  That was not done here, therefore the ban should be removed immediately.

In the interest of keeping any further drama from the board on this matter, this thread is closed.  I am, however, always willing to listen to what anybody has to say on this or any other matter, so feel free to shoot me a PM.  And again, so as not to drag out what has already been properly labeled by others as board "drama," I ask that anything you may feel needs to be further added to this discussion be addressed to the appropriate individual(s) via PM.

For those who for brought your concerns in a calm and civilized manner, Thank You, and I appreciate your ability to provide checks and balances to the moderation of the board.  This is not a dictatorship, nor should it ever be perceived as one.


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