Arnold & Porter, Biglaw, Dorsey & Whitney, Salary Freeze, Sheppard Mullin, Sonnenschein, Venable

ATL Salary Freeze Round-up: The Firms on Ice

pay freeze salary freeze pay cut law firm.jpgThe new year is shaping up to be a cold one. As we noted in our 2008 Year in Review series, one of the biggest stories heading into 2009 has been that of the salary freeze. Rather than instituting lock-step raises for associates entering a new class year, a number of firms have informed associates that their salaries will remain at 2008 levels.

There have been two types of freezes: the “Solid Ice freeze”–with salaries frozen through all of 2009–and the “Slurpee freeze”–where firms are sticking with 2008 levels for now, but promise to revisit the decision later in the year.

Many an ATL reader has requested a round-up, and we aim to please. So find your pleasure, after the jump. Some of the firms have been reported on before, and some are new.

If you know of other frozen firms, send us an e-mail at with the subject, “Salary Freeze: FIRM NAME.” Also, if your firm has raised salaries as expected, feel free to send us the news, with the subject “Salary Raise: FIRM NAME.” While freezes are news, raises as expected aren’t, so we will not be covering firm by firm, but we may do a round-up.

Find the list of the sixteen firms that have frozen, after the jump.

Unless the firm announced an intention to revisit its decision, we’re classifying it as a solid freeze.

Solid Ice Freeze (2009 salaries will remain at 2008 levels)

DLA Piper

Latham & Watkins


Reed Smith

Sheppard Mullin


Squire Sanders

We are also now able to report two new members in the solid salary freeze category.

Dickstein Shapiro: A firm spokesperson confirmed that Dickstein has decided to keep 2009 salaries at 2008 levels.

Sutherland: The firm has frozen associate’s base salary at 2008 levels.

Check back tomorrow for more details on both Dickstein and Sutherland.

The Slurpee Freeze (2009 salaries will remain at 2008 levels… for now)

Arnold & Porter

Bryan Cave (3 month delay)

Dorsey & Whitney

McDermott Will & Emery (will revisit in March)

Sidley Austin (will revisit “sometime” in the first quarter)


Womble Carlyle (will revisit mid-year)

Biglaw giveth and Biglaw taketh away. Associates with frozen salaries just lost a year of salary seniority. A few questions now arise:

  • If the economy rebounds in 2010, will frozen associates get the equivalent of a two-year raise bump? Or is this the new salary hierarchy?

  • Does this open the door for firms to reduce starting salaries? Latham to 145k?

  • For the Slurpee freezes: if firms decide to undo the freeze later this year, will the raise be retroactive to January 1?
  • How will the frozen firms fare in fall recruiting?

    We invite you to discuss these and other questions in the comments.

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