Venable logo.jpgQuestion: Will my Vault 100 firm protect my salary despite the recession?
Answer: You must be using some other kind of 8-ball.

Venable might be Washington, D.C.’s weirdest law firm, but you can’t eat quirky. Yesterday evening, Venable announced pay cuts for everybody. Associates, counsel, staff, non-equity partners, and even equity partners will be affected.
First year associates will be taking the increasingly standard 10% pay cut. But then things get crazy! According to the firm wide memo, most associates and counsel will be taking a wacky 8% pay cut. How adorably off-beat.

* Base compensation for all other associates will be reduced by 8%, although there will be a floor of $150,000 and $155,000 for second year and third year associates, respectively.
* Base compensation for all of counsel will be reduced by 8%.

As one tipster wryly put it:

I guess the salary freeze only meant frozen from going up, eh?

Senior staff will also see their salaries reduced by 8%.
After the jump, Venable partners share the pain.


Venable management seems to be hoping that eight is enough of an incentive to motivate its non-equity partners to keep their hours up.

* All non equity partners and senior legislative advisors will have a base compensation reduction of 8%, excepting those that are on pace that meet the firm’s 1800-hour billable hour standard (based on annualized performance through May 31, 2009).

If non-equity partners are having trouble keeping their hours up, what hope is there for junior associates? Stay tuned for a very special episode of Jon & Kate minus 8.
Even full equity partners could receive a pay cut. Of course, they won’t be taking as big of a hit, percentage wise, as everybody else. And final partner pay decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis. If that doesn’t seem quite fair, remember that if you want rainmakers to hang around and cut checks, they’re not going to take kindly to having their checks cut:

* The profiles for equity partners were set at 5% below last year’s earnings at the beginning of the year. The final compensation decisions for equity partners will be based on 2009 individual and firm performance.

5%? That is so boring. I thought Venable partners wanted to be cool. Venable partners should have taken a 4% pay cut and added 1% baking soda.
Just say no to drugs, and read the full Venable memo below.
Earlier: The Ballers at Venable
Nationwide Pay Freeze Watch: Venable
VENABLE — MEMO — COMPENSATION ADJUSTMENT
While the firm has had a relatively good start to 2009 — we believe that we are performing better than most of our competitors — the ongoing economic uncertainty affecting our clients requires that management act prudently to ensure that the firm ends 2009 in a manner satisfactory to all.
After careful consideration by the firm’s Executive Committee and Board, we believe that it is in the firm’s best interest to take the following actions:
1. Base compensation for our first year associates will be reduced from $160,000 to $145,000.
2. Base compensation for all other associates will be reduced by 8%, although there will be a floor of $150,000 and $155,000 for second year and third year associates, respectively.
3. Base compensation for all of counsel will be reduced by 8%.
4. All non equity partners and senior legislative advisors will have a base compensation reduction of 8%, excepting those that are on pace that meet the firm’s 1800-hour billable hour standard (based on annualized performance through May 31, 2009).
5. Senior staff will have a base compensation reduction of 8%. All other non-legal staff will be unaffected.
6. The profiles for equity partners were set at 5% below last year’s earnings at the beginning of the year. The final compensation decisions for equity partners will be based on 2009 individual and firm performance.
The compensation adjustments will be effective July 11, 2009, and will be reflected in paychecks received July 24, 2009. We will provide each person impacted by this action with a written memorandum, stating their new base compensation, within the next two weeks.
We reiterate that the firm’s first half performance has been relatively good. We remain confident and optimistic about the rest of the year. For this reason, it is our sincere hope that we will be in position to supplement the January 2010 bonus pool in order to reward high performing lawyers and senior staff who have been impacted by this compensation reduction, and otherwise restore or mitigate these reductions in compensation.
Thank you.


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