Howrey LLP, Killing Lockstep, Salary Cuts

Howrey First Years to $100K

Salary Cuts.jpgWelcome to the future. Like Drinker Biddle did in May, Howrey is changing the nature of the first and second year associate experience. The firm is moving to more of an apprenticeship model. New Howrey associates will receive an emphasis on training and take a significant reduction in salary.
The memo from Howrey explains some of the top-line goals of the new program — called the “Tier 1 Associate Program.”

Participants in Howrey’s Tier 1 Program will spend only one-third of their time during the first year on client billable work to permit them to devote the remainder of their time to pro bono representations and a wide range of training programs, including the firm’s signature professional development experience – the Howrey Academies. In Year One, associates will work with Howrey’s full-time, in-house writing instructor, be assigned to trial teams, and take advantage of other programs offered by Howrey’s award-winning professional development team. They will dedicate approximately one-third of their time to pro bono and public interest matters, which will afford them the opportunity to develop the advocacy skills and in court experience that are central to Howrey’s practice. The emphasis on training will continue into Year Two, with client secondments, judicial externships, and other advanced development opportunities added to the curriculum. Billable hours in the second year will be capped at roughly half of total hours.

That is the good, here is the salary information:

The Tier 1 program will be limited to a select number of associates each year. Compensation during the first two years will be adjusted to reflect the nature of the program and the dramatically reduced billable hours expectations. In addition to an annual salary of $100,000, first year participants will receive $25,000 upon acceptance of their job offer to help defray their law school loans or third year law school expenses. In their second year at the firm, participants will receive an annual salary of $125,000 and a $25,000 bonus upon successful completion of the program and entry into Tier 2 of Howrey’s associate development program. Higher compensation may be offered to candidates with special qualifications, such as advanced technical degrees or clerkships.

At least Howrey is trying. More details and the full memo and a reader poll after the jump.


Howrey logo.JPGIf this is truly a glimpse at the future of Biglaw, the most important aspect of that future is experimentation. Instead of just firing associates, deferring first years, no offering summers, or instituting across the board salary cuts, Howrey seems to be trying to do a little more than waiting for the recession to end. An emphasis on training and development — with a reduction in billable hour requirements and associate pay — could benefit both the firm and young attorneys.
Maybe Howrey can give young attorneys the practical training that they are clearly not getting at the nation’s overpriced law schools:

“Tier 1,” Ruyak continued, “addresses what has been lacking across large law firms – a meaningful training experience for their most junior associates. Too often high billable hours requirements are at odds with professional development. By reducing the billable hours requirement, significantly discounting rates and training our associates consistently and creatively, we know we can develop them more effectively and provide more value to our clients.”

If more firms follow Howrey and Drinker Biddle, it could well be that law students will soon have a meaningful choice coming out of law school. Do you want professional training at $100K, or do you want to maximize your income at $160K? Maybe if you are really looking to make a career out of being an attorney, you’ll take less money now for better training. But if you are just trying to pay off as much debt as possible before moving onto other things, you’ll take your $160K for 3 years, pay off some debt, and move away from Biglaw.
Choice is good.
Read the full Howrey memo below, and then take our poll.
HOWREY — MEMO — TIER 1 ASSOCIATE PROGRAM
Howrey Introduces New Program for Entering Associates
Firm Invests in Development of Junior Lawyers, Reduces Billable Hours Requirements and Focuses on Training and Development
Washington, DC, June 22, 2009… Howrey LLP, recognized as a leader for its innovative approach to associate development and career management, today introduced the “Tier 1 Associate Program” for its U.S. associates. The two-year program, which borrows its name from the five-tier performance-based associate compensation and advancement program that Howrey unveiled last year, is a first of it’s kind entry level lawyer training and initiation program specifically designed to accelerate the development of associate competencies.
Participants in Howrey’s Tier 1 Program will spend only one-third of their time during the first year on client billable work to permit them to devote the remainder of their time to pro bono representations and a wide range of training programs, including the firm’s signature professional development experience – the Howrey Academies. In Year One, associates will work with Howrey’s full-time, in-house writing instructor, be assigned to trial teams, and take advantage of other programs offered by Howrey’s award-winning professional development team. They will dedicate approximately one-third of their time to pro bono and public interest matters, which will afford them the opportunity to develop the advocacy skills and in court experience that are central to Howrey’s practice. The emphasis on training will continue into Year Two, with client secondments, judicial externships, and other advanced development opportunities added to the curriculum. Billable hours in the second year will be capped at roughly half of total hours.
In sharp contrast to many other firms, which are asking their entering classes to wait a year or more before starting their law firm careers and beginning to develop their legal skills, Howrey will welcome all of its new associates in the Class of 2009 into the Tier 1 Program on September 28, 2009.
“The beginning of a young lawyer’s career is a critical time. We want our young lawyers to hone their skills and realize their full potential. Our Tier 1 Program is designed to provide all of our participating associates an early and equal opportunity to achieve that objective,” said Bob Ruyak, Chairman and CEO of Howrey.
The Tier 1 Program continues a commitment to professional development that Howrey embarked more than 10 years ago. “This is the next logical step in providing developmental opportunities to our young lawyers and value to our clients,” explained Ruyak. “After we launched our ‘Bootcamp’ summer program, a hands-on experience for second year law students that provides a close up understanding of litigation and trial skills, we articulated the Howrey Competency Model and built an unparalleled training program to ensure that our associates received the support needed to develop critical competencies. This year, after several years of careful planning, Howrey successfully moved off lockstep compensation and advancement and implemented a performance-based system. That move, combined with our Supervising Partner program and a robust evaluation and feedback program, has enabled our associates to truly excel beyond the constraints of a class year.”
“Tier 1,” Ruyak continued, “addresses what has been lacking across large law firms – a meaningful training experience for their most junior associates. Too often high billable hours requirements are at odds with professional development. By reducing the billable hours requirement, significantly discounting rates and training our associates consistently and creatively, we know we can develop them more effectively and provide more value to our clients.”
The Tier 1 program will be limited to a select number of associates each year. Compensation during the first two years will be adjusted to reflect the nature of the program and the dramatically reduced billable hours expectations. In addition to an annual salary of $100,000, first year participants will receive $25,000 upon acceptance of their job offer to help defray their law school loans or third year law school expenses. In their second year at the firm, participants will receive an annual salary of $125,000 and a $25,000 bonus upon successful completion of the program and entry into Tier 2 of Howrey’s associate development program. Higher compensation may be offered to candidates with special qualifications, such as advanced technical degrees or clerkships.
The firm expects that, upon successful completion of the Tier 1 program, associates will receive above-market compensation commensurate with the competencies they will have accrued. The program will not affect the compensation of current Howrey associates.
“I can think of no better way to introduce young lawyers into the profession,” says Ruyak. “We are in constant contact with law schools and others who are as committed as we are to the improvement of the associate experience. Given the success of Bootcamp, the Howrey Competency Model, and our departure from the traditional lockstep compensation system – all of which were developed after extensive research and are continuously refined based on feedback received from our associates, partners and clients – we expect our Tier 1 Associate Program to be well received by associates, clients and the profession.”
Bob Ruyak, who has been honored twice (2008 and 2009) by Legal Times as one of Washington’s Visionary leaders, currently serves as Chairman of the Georgetown University Law Center’s Board of Visitors.


Earlier: Salary Cut Watch: Drinker Biddle Cuts Salaries AND Rates

185 comments
(hidden for your protection)

comments sponsored by

Show all comments

Our Sites

  • Above the Law
  • How Appealing
  • ATL Redline
  • Breaking Defense
  • Breaking Energy
  • Breaking Gov
  • Dealbreaker
  • Fashonista
  •