The Great Recession has been tough for many different types of firms — and that even includes intellectual property firms. During the past year, IP-focused shops have cut back on hiring, slashed salaries, and lost key partners to larger firms.
A few recent developments at Finnegan Henderson, the D.C.-based IP powerhouse, reflect the new realities. Multiple sources report the following:
1. Earlier this week, at an “all associates” meeting, the firm announced that it is freezing associate salaries.
2. At the same meeting, the firm announced that it is reducing first-year associate salaries from $160,000 to $145,000 (in all offices).
UPDATE: We understand that Finnegan has frozen support staff salaries as well.
Two additional items about Finnegan, after the jump.
The next two items are not as well-sourced as the first two, so they should not be seen as completely confirmed:
3.. The firm’s offer rate for its 2009 summer associate program came in at (or below) around 50 percent.
4. Some associates are quietly being asked to leave, getting six months to find new jobs.
If true, that’s generous; six months is on the high side in terms of time given to get a new job. Most firms seem to give their lawyers around three months.
We reached out to Finnegan managing partner Richard Racine for confirmation and comment, but he did not return our email or voicemail messages.
UPDATE: From one source with knowledge of the D.C. legal market:
What you posted, specifically #4 (about stealth layoffs) is probably true. Finnegan Henderson has traditionally done everything in its power to avoid admitting that the firm lays off people for economic reasons. They are terrified of being seen as anything other than the biggest and the best. I’m sure the people being asked to leave are, relatively speaking, the weakest performers, but I would be shocked if they are admitting that the slowdown in work is obviously the main impetus. Those patent partners are very crafty when it comes to inventing creative ways to lay off attorneys and making them disappear.
If you have any corrections or additions to the foregoing, please email us (subject line: “Finnegan Henderson”). Thanks.