We received an interesting email about a month ago. We meant to write about it back then, but never got around to it. But since we haven’t read about it elsewhere (please correct us if we’re wrong), we figure it’s still fair game for discussion.
Here’s the start of the email. It’s from John Quinn, name partner of litigation powerhouse Quinn Emanuel.
From: John Quinn
we have a possible solution to a problem that we want to run by all of you. its controversial–or has the potential to be such–so we don’t want to consider it further if it will be a problem.
our firm desparately needs more patent litigators with electrical engineering degrees. its not just that we have more and more cases calling for that expertise. we also have clients who insist on staffing their cases with electrical engineers. we are beyond capacity limited in this area. its to the point that we are being instructed to off load some work to other firms that have ee degrees. the truth of the matter is that we could probably put a dozen of these people to work right now if we had them.
we have constantly been looking for people with this credential. unfortunately, so are alot of other firms. the demand clearly exceeds the supply.
You can probably guess where this is going. Read the rest of John Quinn’s email, after the jump.
the possible solution is to create a separate pay scale for attys with ee degrees–say 20k more than others in their class. they would continue to be considered on the same partnership track and by the same criteria as others. but as associates, they would be paid a little more than their contemporaries.
other associates salaries would not be affected–we would continue to pay salary and bonus at the top of the scale through the first 5 years as we have in the past.
we recognize that this is unorthodox and we don’t want to go any further without inviting the reaction of all associates in the firm. we have a need, and this may be a partial solution. but its not a solution if its going to cause hard feelings.
so–we invite you all to weigh in. ed defranco, david perlson, evette pennypacker and ryan goldstein will be collecting comments. tell us what you think. if you want to respond to this anonymously, that’s fine.
John B. Quinn
Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges, LLP
ATL commenters, we invite YOU all to weigh in.
To anyone at Quinn Emanuel: Have the partners made up their mind about whether to adopt this proposed solution? If so, has their decision been announced? Or are we still in the notice-and-comment period?
Update: As one commenter notes, this could mark the start of a trend away from lockstep compensation. For example, the Washington office of Dechert currently pays associates in its financial services group (FSG) higher salaries than their associates in other practice areas.