While many firms announced their decisions to freeze 2009 salaries at the end of 2008, a few waited until now to make up their minds.
Memos went out before the first paychecks of the year to associates at Atlanta-based Alston & Bird and Washington, D.C.-based Hogan & Hartson. Alston’s is a Slurpee freeze with the firm saying it may “revisit” the decision at an unspecified time this year. Hogan’s is a Solid Ice freeze; salaries are locked at 2008 levels throughout 2009.
The language of these memos has become fairly uniform– a jumble of “economic downturn,” “challenging,” “distress,” and “2009 may really suck for us.” Okay, maybe not the last phrase, but that’s the gist. Check out the memos, after the jump.
We’ve also received word that Schulte Roth & Zabel has frozen salaries until further notice, but the language leaves hope for a decision in the near future for a raise:
The firm has not yet made any decision with respect to associate salaries for 2009. We expect a decision will be made in the next few weeks, and any change will be retroactive to January 1.
Not all firms are bracing themselves for a difficult 2009 by freezing salaries. In response to our requests for salary raise information, we heard back from associates at Cleary; Stoel Rives; Perkins Coie; Fried Frank; Irell; and Schiff Hardin. A host of others are named in Firms that have not frozen, a post in the ATL Community section.
Memos from Alston, Hogan, and Schulte about frozen salaries, after the jump.
ALSTON & BIRD MEMORANDUM
As you all know, 2008 was a year of unprecedented economic distress across global financial markets. No sector is immune from the impact of the economic downturn, including law firms. Throughout 2008, firm management implemented a variety of measures to address the financial situation. As the Partners Committee has engaged in the budgeting process for 2009, it has become apparent that additional expense savings are mandated for sound financial stewardship of the firm.
To that end, associates will be paid the same base compensation in 2009 as they were paid in 2008: in Los Angeles, our associates will move to the new A&B pay scale, but at their 2008 class year level. This is only one aspect of our continuing efforts to manage expenses and costs. We will persist in these efforts together and all firm personnel, including partners, will undoubtedly be impacted by these measures.
This decision will be re-visited through the year. Our bonus program for 2009 will remain in effect, as per our policy.
These are times unlike any other. By our prudent and thoughtful management of this enterprise, we can look forward to a successful 2009. Let’s turn our focus now to working with our clients and our communities toward that end. Thank you for your continuing and valued contributions.
HOGAN AND HARTSON MEMORANDUM
To: All Associates
From: The Executive Committee
Date: January 12, 2009
Re: 2009 Associate Compensation
As we move ahead with our 2009 planning, the firm has been carefully analyzing all areas of our business to address the economic downturn gripping world markets and affecting our clients and ourselves. We believe that our strategy, the diversity of our practice and our client base, our global reach, and the caliber of our lawyers will enable us to weather these difficult times and to emerge even stronger relative to our peer firms. However, like our peer firms and our clients, we are not immune to the effects of the downturn, and we anticipate that 2009 will pose a challenging economic environment for the firm.
Therefore, effective January 1, 2009, US associates moving to the next class year will not receive an increase in base compensation. Compensation adjustments for associates outside the US will be made on a market-by-market basis.
This action is one of many measures the firm is taking to deal prudently with the current economic environment. We appreciate your understanding and your support for the firm.
Managing Director – Administrative Group
HOGAN & HARTSON LLP
SCHULTE ROTH & ZABEL MEMORANDUM
From: Galligan, Susan
To: ^NY-All Associates; ^WDC-All Associates
Sent: Fri Jan 09 10:33:37 2009
Subject: 2009 Associate Salaries
The Firm has not yet made any decision with respect to associate salaries for 2009. We expect a decision will be made in the next few weeks and any change will be retroactive to January 1.