Associate Salaries

Latham & Watkins: Unfreezing Salaries?

Latham Watkins LLP lw logo.jpgThe decisions Latham & Watkins has made regarding its associates have been well documented in these pages. Because of the firm’s associate layoffs, some people forget that Latham & Watkins was one of the first firms to freeze associate salaries. Latham froze salaries way back in December of 2008.
It would be somewhat fitting if Latham became one of the first firms to unfreeze associate salaries.
For now, the firm isn’t saying anything. Latham spokespeople did not respond to our multiple requests for comment.
But multiple sources inside Latham are preparing for a thaw. And, if true, Latham could go a long way towards answering one of the most important questions we have about making associate pay raises come back again.
Details from our Latham sources after the jump.

We’ve anticipated that one day firms would unfreeze associate salaries. But the big question is whether firms will give associates a “true raise” — up to where associates would have been without the freeze — or not. According to our sources, Latham is prepared to make a “double bump” up on associate salaries. Here are the bullet points from multiple tipsters
* Latham is prepared to make salary raises on 1/1/10.
* The Executive Committee has already signed off on the plan and communicated the decision to the associate’s committee.
* The raise will be to the “prevailing market rates” of firms Latham considers “peers.”
* Skadden and Gibson Dunn are a couple of firms Latham views as equals.
Now, obviously that information comes with a lot of caveats. First of all, our sources on this are predominately out of just one Latham office. We’re not sure if this thaw is firm wide. Also, we obviously don’t know what “prevailing” market rates will look like on 1/1/10, so there is still a lot of wiggle room for the firm. But it looks like Latham is at least willing to contemplate a double pay raise at the beginning of next year.
It has been a long, dark winter of associate salary freezing. Is this the first warming ray of sunshine?
Earlier: Nationwide Pay Raise Freeze Watch: Latham & Watkins
Nationwide Layoff Watch: Latham Cuts 440 (190 Associates, 250 Staff)
Prior ATL coverage of salary freezes

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