Oh no. Is it really time to crank up the salary freeze watch again? I thought that the big question this winter would be whether firms that froze salaries last year would be unfreezing pay for 2010. And whether or not the raises were a “true up” raise that put people up to where they would have been absent last year’s freeze.
Instead, could we be looking at a winter where firms that did not freeze last year decide to freeze this year? A tipster reports on some disturbing news coming out of Covington & Burling:
Covington just announced salary freeze for all offices but NY; NY TBD. All-associates meeting.
Above the Law reached out to spokespeople at Covington. Read the firm’s statement after the jump.
It is not a good indication that a firm as prestigious, profitable, and safe as Covington is freezing salaries. This is the time for bonus announcements, not salary freezes.
Covington offered Above the Law this brief statement about today’s announcement:
Earlier today, we announced that we will not be increasing associate salaries in our offices outside of New York. Our decision was based on an assessment of the market for associate salaries and our best sense of the fair and appropriate course to take in the current environment.
Compare this to what the firm said back in April (emphasis added):
Our balanced mix of practices; our longstanding, deep and broad client relationships; and our careful management have mitigated some of the worst impacts of the economy to date. We have not seen a need for any cutbacks in the size of our legal and non-legal staff. We have not frozen salaries. We have paid bonuses. We will welcome our incoming class for 2009 at the usual time this fall, and we will offer a full summer program.
You have to wonder if other top firms will make a similar “market assessment” and start freezing salaries on their talent as well.
Earlier: Open Thread: The Good News
Prior ATL coverage of salary freezes