Just before Christmas, Arnold & Porter sent around an intriguing memo. The firm refused to make any decisions regarding pay in New York at all in 2009:
Associate Bonuses for Associates in All Offices Except in New York
Those of you who met the previously announced thresholds and other criteria for 2008 bonuses will be advised today (by individual e-mails) that you will be receiving these bonuses. The amounts paid will be in keeping with the levels paid in 2007.
Associate Bonuses for New York Associates
We will be announcing our 2008 bonuses for our New York associates after the first of the year. Consistent with past practices, these bonuses will be paid in 2009.
A tipster begs to differ with A&P’s institutional memory of “past practices.”
Despite his wording regarding timing of payment, the bonuses were announced in early December last year.
Just to be clear, A&P announced bonuses on December 12th last year.
Why can’t A&P make a decision on New York bonuses right now like other top 20 firms? Another tipster opines:
It is generally agreed that not announcing the bonuses in NY is totally asinine.
A&P can’t pull the trigger on associate salaries either. More on that after the jump.
According to the memo, Arnold & Porter still can’t decide if they will honor associate pay raises in New York or elsewhere:
2009 Associate Compensation and Bonuses
We have not yet made any decisions regarding whether associates will receive seniority level increases as of January 1, 2009 and do not expect to finalize any decisions until after the first of the year. We will continue to review publicly available data on this issue and we will implement compensation increases if market data support such an action. Any increases would be retroactive to the first of the year.
We also intend to review market data in 2009 in determining whether or not we will have a bonus program in 2009. This review will consider, among other things, the criteria for bonuses and the amounts that will be paid.
“Review publicly available data.” Like what, Above The Law? A quick glance at the Vault top 20 shows that the overwhelming majority of A&P’s peer firms have decided against freezing salaries. Latham hasn’t been a market leader on the salary issue the way Cravath was on associate bonuses.
Maybe A&P doesn’t consider itself to be in the same league as those other firms? A tipster reports:
My reading of the email is that we will NOT be receiving salary increases as of the first of the year. Although they have “not” made a decision, the decision seems to be to delay raises and implement them retroactive to Jan 1 if they feel like it.
Of course, under the threat of layoffs firms can pretty much do whatever they want. Frankly, they no longer have to give a damn.
Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of salary freezes