Associates at Thelen Reid were clamoring for a post shining the spotlight on their firm. Here are some representative emails:
“We’ve waited long enough here, and they haven’t said anything. We’ve come up badly in who knows how many articles. We’re the highest ranked firm (#17) on the Cal Law 25 not to raise, and several below us already have. And several firms that would be below us on the AmLaw 100 (we would be #69, but AmLaw refuses to count firms as merged unless the merger happened by a certain date, and our merger was officially Dec 1, 2006) post-merger have raised, and we haven’t. And our PPP [profits per partner] is quoted in one article as $860K and in another as $850K, $15K-$25K behind Pillsbury who has raised.”
“[A]lthough management hasn’t said anything, popular opinion is that they will raise first years to $160K and compress everyone else across the board, mainly because that’s what they always do. I don’t quite understand how they feel they have “matched market” without lockstep salaries.”
We meant to do a Thelen Reid post some time ago, but we never got around to it. And perhaps now one is no longer needed, since the firm has matched — sort of.
More details, after the jump.
From The Recorder:
The last domino has fallen. That would be Thelen Reid Brown Raysman & Steiner, which on Friday become the last major California law firm to announce its response to the wave of associate salary increases.
But Thelen isn’t precisely following the footsteps of the other firms that rushed to raise California first-years to the $160,000 mark over the last two months.
Instead, the firm has created a two-tier compensation structure that pays associates in most of its offices that work 2,000 hours a year on the $160,000 scale, while associates who work less will remain on a $145,000 scale similar to the old one.
It seems like a sensible solution. But there are some dangers:
“I think it will lead to class distinctions within firms and, in a sense, will give some associates the ability to self-select to a lower status,” said Richard Gary, a consultant with Gary Advisors in Tiburon, Calif. “I don’t know if it’ll be good for morale in the long run.”
Under the new Thelen pay system, which goes into effect July 1, associates can move between the two tiers without getting off the partner track, O’Neal said. Twice a year associates can, based on their last 12 months of work, move into the 2,000-hour tier. Once a year, associates can move back into the less-than-2,000-hour option.
The two-tier scale will be put into effect in California, Washington, D.C., and New Jersey. Thelen’s New York office was already at $160,000.
Personally we don’t think this is a bad thing. It gives both the firm and its associates greater flexibility, and it offers people a broader range of options when it comes to work-life balance.
But hey, we haven’t worked at a law firm in years, so what do we know? We’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on two-track systems — like those in place at Fenwick & West, Wiley Rein, and Thelen Reid. Please share them in the comments (and maybe we’ll put up a reader poll later, too). Thanks.
Thelen Reid Responds to Associate Raises With Two-Tier Pay Scale [The Recorder via Law.com]