Contract Attorneys, Salary Cuts

Nationwide Salary Cut Watch: Fish & Richardson Scales Back Salaries

Salary Cuts.jpgIs it nationwide salary cut day and nobody told me? Earlier today, Bryan Cave cut associate salaries. Now, Fish & Richardson will be doing the same thing. We just don’t know when.
At a firm wide video conference today, Fish & Richardson president Peter Devlin said that the firm would be cutting salaries in the near future. As we understand it, the chairman didn’t give a specific date. But he did say that Fish & Richardson would be moving towards a “meritocracy” with regards to its salary structure.
Update (3:47): We’re still waiting for Fish & Richardson to get back to us directly, but firm president Peter Devlin now says that he did not suggest that Fish would be cutting salaries in the near future. Here is a statement he sent out to the firm:

Shortly after my address at today’s forum, a story appeared on the Above the Law website erroneously stating that I had announced that F&R would be “cutting salaries in the near future.” In fact, I said the opposite – that the Management Committee is not considering cutting our associate salary scale this year, despite the fact that several other firms have done so. I went on to say that we are reviewing our associate compensation system in view of the changing market, and that in my personal view any new system should link compensation with meritorious performance, put less emphasis on hours, and move away from lockstep advancement. You’ll be hearing more about this as our work progresses.

Did our tipsters misinterpret Devlin’s statement of moving towards a merit based system as a salary cut? Only time will tell. We’ll update you again if Fish & Richardson chooses to respond.
Boy, if lockstep was such a horrible system that didn’t reward merit, you have to wonder why nearly every firm used that system for so long. I bet there are a lot of people who wish they had been rewarded on merit during the boom times, instead of being punished for “performance” during the bad times.
The news should hardly come as a surprise to (remaining) Fish & Richardson associates. In January, the firm announced that it had laid off 49 lawyers. In May, the firm laid off 120 people. The salary cuts are just the latest cost cutting measure from the firm.
More details from the video conference, after the jump.


Fish Richardson logo.jpgA few weeks ago, Fish told one third of its incoming first year associate class that they should look for alternate employment.
When you add those numbers to the layoffs, is it possible that Fish has cut too deep? Tipsters report that during the video conference, Devlin said that the firm would be hiring more contract attorneys.
Will Fish give the right of first refusal to the associates it has jettisoned this year? It’s unlikely that all of them have found jobs in this terrible economy, I bet they could use the work.
Fish & Richardson spokespeople did not respond to our request for comment.
Tipsters also report that the previously announced “Slurpee salary freeze” will be extended, at least until Fish can figure out how much to reduce salaries. So, salaries really aren’t frozen at all … from a certain point of view.
In any event, Fish & Richardson keeps taking hits. We hope that all these moves will help the firm right its financial ship.
Earlier: Nationwide Layoff Watch: Fish & Richardson Throws Associates/Staff Back
Nationwide Layoff Watch: Fish & Richardson Officially Announces Cuts
Fish & Richardson Puts One-Third Of Its Incoming Associates On Ice
Updated Salary Freeze Round-up: Even More Firms on Ice

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