Intellectual Property, Killing Lockstep, Salary Cuts, Townsend and Townsend and Crew

Nationwide Salary Cut Watch: Townsend and Townsend and Crew

Salary Cuts.jpgThe myth that IP boutiques would be immune from the recession has already been debunked. Today, a few more intellectual property lawyers came back down to earth with the rest of the legal industry.
Above the Law has obtained an internal memo from the IP firm Townsend and Townsend and Crew. The firm is cutting salaries:

All- After much deliberation and consideration of the various issues involved, including the thoughtful input of the associates, the Policy Committee has made the decision to restructure associate compensation for 2010 as follows:
1) The associate pay scale for 2010 will be adjusted so that starting salaries for first year associates will be $145,000.
2) The remaining scale will be:
Level 2: $ 160,000
Level 3: $ 170,000
Level 4: $ 185,000
Level 5: $ 210,000
Level 6: $ 225,000
Level 7: $ 240,000

But don’t get too attached to that lockstep system, Townsend associates. After the jump, we see that Townsend wants to join the cool kids hanging out behind the gym lighting lockstep on fire.

I’m just going to keep saying this until somebody hears me: abandoning lockstep is not, in and of itself, a plan. That’s like having somebody ask you what you want for dinner, and responding with: “I don’t want pizza.” While the response may be factually accurate, it lacks a certain level of basic utility.
At Townsend, after explaining its hours target and bonus expectations, the internal memo has one last point — almost as an afterthought:

5) The firm will move to a competency-based compensation system in 2011.

What. Does. That. Mean? I just want to understand. Why won’t you let me understand?
A tipster explains the decision Townsend employees are now looking at:

Time to stop ignoring those calls from headhunters. It’ll be interesting to see what the competency-based compensation system will entail.

It’s very difficult for associates and partners to make informed judgments about their earning potential when all they know is that something will be different in 2011. How different? Who knows!
Will the compensation be based on hours? Or business development? Or maybe some series of business challenges like we see on The Apprentice?
So many questions. I guess people working at Townsend will have to wait until 2011 to get some answers.
Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of salary cuts
Prior ATL coverage of killing lockstep

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