Biglaw, Money, Salary Cuts, Salary Freeze, Skaddenfreude

The February Freeze Round-up: New Firms on Ice (and smaller raises at Jenner & Block NYC)

pay freeze salary freeze pay cut law firm.jpgAnother month, another round of freeze announcements. Here are the latest firms to announce the withholding of class year raises in 2009:

  • Baker & McKenzie (“Slurpee” freeze– will be revisited on June 30)
  • Cooley Godward
  • Patton Boggs
  • Seyfarth Shaw

    Jenner & Block is not freezing salaries, but it is giving smaller raises to New York associates. The salary scale will no longer match the market in New York, reports one ATL reader:

    Jenner & Block just announced that they are not matching NY market for salaries. Instead, they are going to pay equal salaries across their offices, meaning their NY office associates will make at least $10k less than other associates at tier one firms in NY. From what I hear, people are pretty angry, particularly because a) Jenner also does not cover bar fees or court admission fees (as nearly all other firms do, particularly in NY); b) Jenner does not count all pro bono hours one-for-one with billable hours towards their 2000 hour requirement (unlike many firms); and c) Jenner’s profits went up last year.

    Since Jenner is essentially doing a salary raise cut (rather than a freeze), it has avoided being added to our list of firms that have frozen. To see Cooley’s 2009 salary levels, Seyfarth’s freeze memo, and the growing list of firms that are keeping 2009 salaries at 2008 levels, you have to jump.

    The newest additions to the list are in bold. To see a list of firms that have NOT frozen, check out this open thread post.

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

    Arent Fox

    Ballard Spahr

    Blank Rome


    Dickstein Shapiro

    DLA Piper

    Goodwin Procter

    Hogan & Hartson

    Latham & Watkins

    Morgan Lewis


    Patton Boggs

    Perkins Coie

    Seyfarth Shaw

    Sheppard Mullin


    Squire Sanders



    Wilson Sonsini

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

    Alston & Bird

    Andrews Kurth

    Arnold & Porter

    Baker & McKenzie (will revisit June 30)

    Bingham McCutchen

    Bryan Cave (3 month delay)

    Chadbourne & Parke

    Dorsey & Whitney

    Fish & Richardson

    Fulbright & Jaworski (will revisit after the first quarter)

    Haynes and Boone

    Mayer Brown

    McDermott Will & Emery (will revisit in March)

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


    Womble Carlyle (will revisit mid-year)


    Base pay remains the same and constant across all offices – no step increases for any class in any office this year.

    08 – 160,000

    07 – 160,000

    06 – 170,000

    05 – 185,000

    04 – 210,000

    03 – 230,000

    02 – 250,000

    01 – 265,000

    00 – 280,000


    As many of you have learned in your office meetings, 2008 was a remarkable and challenging year for all businesses. In spite of the economic downturn and the dramatic effects it has had on many companies and firms, we ultimately ended the year on a successful note, thanks to the contributions of people in every area of the firm.

    From a financial standpoint, the firm recorded a slight increase in profitability in a year when other firms were down. Achieving this level of success was due in part to many of you, and we thank you for your contributions. As a result, we have increased this year’s overall bonus pool, and we will be paying out 2008 bonuses on the typical timeframe to eligible associates. We are pleased to be in a position to reward our associates for both their individual contributions and in recognition of our overall results.

    As we look ahead, we know that 2009 will continue to be challenging. No one can say with confidence what challenges our clients will face or what this year will look like. These are extraordinary times with unprecedented challenges. Unlike earlier cycles, the current recession is widespread and not confined to a single industry, sector or even a single country’s economy.

    While we are in a strong position to weather current conditions, we believe it is imperative to control our expenses this year; thus, we are planning conservatively. The single biggest expense we have is legal compensation, and we must control our costs in this area. As a result, like many other firms, we will not be increasing associate salaries in 2009. We recognize that a salary freeze may be disappointing news, but after much discussion and analysis, we concluded that this would be the best route to manage our business and would help avoid more dramatic changes in staffing or expenses later in the year.

    We will be in touch with you in late February or early March with individual information on bonuses. In the interim, please contact your LDC advisor, LDC chair or your Office Managing Partner with questions you have.

    Thanks for your continued support.

    (hidden for your protection)

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