Money, Salary Freeze

A Mystery Memo from Squire Sanders
(Or: The hot new trend of associate pay freezes.)

The memo below was sent to us by a tipster, with this prefatory comment: “No one really knows what the f*** the second half of the first sentence of the memo means.”

Squire Sanders Dempsey LLP SSD associate salary memo.jpg

So, dear readers: What does this language mean? The most literal interpretation is that Squire Sanders will resist associate pay raises in 2009 — e.g., it won’t go along with any “NY to 190″ movement started by another firm. The overall associate pay schedule will remain unchanged, at least at SSD.

But that’s a bit obvious. Given the dire economic conditions, reflected in Squire’s decision to lay off 30 employees last month, it makes more sense to view this language as a poorly worded attempt to announce a year-long salary freeze (i.e., not giving associates the customary January increases in base salary to reflect their greater seniority).

If it’s a pay freeze announcement, SSD isn’t the first firm to travel down this path (although they are going the farthest). McDermott Will & Emery is freezing salaries until March (at least); Bryan Cave is freezing them until April. Womble Carlyle is freezing salaries for the first half of 2009 (at least).

We have an inquiry in to Squire Sanders partner Timothy Sheeran, who sent the memo. In the meantime, your attempts to parse this language are welcome in the comments.

P.S. Presumably all the bailout-related work the firm is getting isn’t making up for lost work in other practice areas.

Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of salary freezes

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