You almost have to respect the extent to which some firms will torture the plain meaning of things to make bad news seem like no big deal. On that scale, Alston & Bird is one of the masters.
Alston & Bird associates were informed today that the firm is cutting salaries by $5,000 for all associates. But A&B wants you to know that it is a “temporary” salary decrease! It only applies through the end of 2009. Isn’t that nice?
Do you think salaries will automatically rebound at the start of 2010? If so, you haven’t been following along with Alston & Bird.
Let’s check out some recent history after the jump.
You might remember that way back in January of this year, the firm froze associate salaries. But it was a Slurpee freeze. You know, “temporary.” At the time, the firm said this to its associates:
This decision will be re-visited through the year. Our bonus program for 2009 will remain in effect, as per our policy.
These are times unlike any other. By our prudent and thoughtful management of this enterprise, we can look forward to a successful 2009.
Does the salary cut mean that Alston & Bird has not brought forth the prudent and thoughtful management necessary to have a successful 2009?
Above the Law revisited Alston & Bird’s salary freeze decision, earlier this month. But the firm declined to comment about its salary situation. Apparently, when it finally got around to looking at its so-called temporary salary freeze, it felt like it was time to put together a full scale salary cut — temporarily of course.
At least one Alston & Bird associate doesn’t have very much faith in firm management:
Liz Price, partner in charge of associates at A&B, will announce that associates will be receiving a five thousand dollar pay cut for the rest of this year. Price will spin this as being a cut but less than what other firms have done. But since A&B doesn’t pay market base salaries and doesn’t pay market bonuses, this is especially disappointing. Further cuts for 2010 are on the table and will be determined in the fall.
Whatever Alston & Bird associates believe, one can understand why it is a little hard for them to trust firm management. Remember, a couple of months ago the firm essentially laid off 14 attorneys and 38 staffers while jumping through approximately 1.2 million hoops to avoid calling the move a “layoff.” Here’s how the firm described its April cuts:
Today, we have notified 14 associates in our transactional practice areas that the demand for legal services is not sufficient to support their full-time positions. In addition, we are reducing our support personnel by 38 staff members across several of our offices.
In any event, we wish Alston & Bird people the best of luck with their temporary salary cuts, limited salaries freezes, and non-layoff layoffs. Waiting for the economy to magically recover is the hardest part.
Earlier: Nationwide Pay Freeze Watch: Brrr! Things are getting chilly beneath the Mason-Dixon Line
Nationwide Pay Freeze Update: Slurpees Still on Ice (or Poured Out)
Nationwide Don’t Call It A Layoff Watch: Alston & Bird Cancels Full Time Work for 14 Attorneys