pay freeze salary freeze pay cut law firm.jpgDLA Piper’s associates received an e-mail today at 4 p.m. about bonuses. The memo says less about bonuses though than it says about 2009 salaries. (Bonus decisions will be made later in January, as they were last year.)

The salary decision for 2009? Another major firm is getting its freeze on. Here’s an excerpt from the e-mail:

DLA Piper, because of its global platform and practice diversification, is well-positioned competitively and financially to weather this downturn, but neither we nor our clients are immune from its impacts. This difficult business environment is certain to continue in 2009, and as a matter of prudent management, the firm will not increase associate salaries for 2009 in the U.S. Associates moving to the next class year will continue to receive the same base compensation as they received in 2008.

We asked our tipster about the reaction around the office:

Well, it’s only been an hour, but I think it’s a terrible move. DLAP already has a reputation as a scrimper among the top-50 – this will not help.

At least other top-50 firms did it first. Like Latham and Orrick, this pronouncement is a definite freeze, and not a maybe-we’ll-reassess-if-things-look-brighter-later-in-the-year freeze.

Full text of the e-mail after the jump.


DLA Piper subtly passes the blame for the freeze onto its clients, and says it will show how much it values associates when bonus season comes round. We’ll let you know how that shapes up when bonus watch goes into effect for DLA Piper in late January or early February.

MEMORANDUM TO DLA PIPER U.S. ASSOCIATES

2008 has indisputably been one of the most challenging economic periods in recent history. DLA Piper, because of its global platform and practice diversification, is well-positioned competitively and financially to weather this downturn, but neither we nor our clients are immune from its impacts. This difficult business environment is certain to continue in 2009, and as a matter of prudent management, the firm will not increase associate salaries for 2009 in the U.S. Associates moving to the next class year will continue to receive the same base compensation as they received in 2008. Consistent with our past practice, decisions for regions outside the US will be made on a market by market basis.

We have exceptional associates and we value you greatly. We will continue to reward outstanding performance through our bonus program. Bonuses for 2008 will be determined and paid in late January or early February. The 2009 Bonus Program will be the subject of our usual Executive Committee review and discussion process, and its specifics will be announced at some point in the first quarter.

We are grateful for the market opportunities DLA Piper has, and for the loyalty of our clients. Our primary purpose in 2009 should be remaining close to them and understanding their business and legal needs in order to provide them with exceptional service.


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