Seyfarth Shaw held its firm wide meeting on Monday, and we (finally) know what went down. The top line news is that Seyfarth will be moving to a pure competency based associate compensation system. But it won’t be fully up and running until 2011. Seyfarth’s managing partner, Steve Poor, issued this statement to the firm after the meeting:
We all recognize that the profession of law is changing in some profound and fundamental ways. Our Firm is making strong strides to align our services with changing client needs through initiatives like Seyfarth Lean, which are gaining strong recognition and support from many of our clients. We discussed another key change that we will introduce more formally in January — one that will change the way we train, develop, recognize, reward and promote our associates. We will be moving to a full competency-based talent system that will be phased in over the course of 2010. We believe this effort will benefit our clients, our Firm and each of you individually. Promotions and compensation will no longer be tied to class years, so that you will be able to excel and be recognized based on your individual skills and accomplishments. Enhanced training will help you develop broad-based skills to add greater value and meet changing client needs, like those being evaluated in the ACC Value Index. More information will be coming to you next month and throughout the year.
So, like Sonnenschein and WilmerHale, Seyfarth will be changing associate compensation, but it’s not yet prepared to tell its associates (or its recruits) how much they’ll be making under the new model.
Despite not being ready to roll out its new program, Seyfarth will still be taking a look at associate costs for 2010. Details on Seyfarth’s 2010 structure after the jump.
Sources who were at the meeting explained that Seyfarth will pay 2010 salaries based on 2009 performance. Seyfarth rates its associates as: exceptional, exceeds expectations, meets expectations, and below. Based on that rating, here is your 2010 raise at Seyfarth:
* Exceptional = 5% raise
* Exceeds expectations = Salary Freeze
* Meets expectations = 5% cut
* Lower = cuts of up to 20% mostly in the form of deferred compensation that could be made up at the end of the year.
It is beyond funny that Seyfarth believes that its associates that meet the firm’s expectations deserve a 5% salary cut.
Here’s how the firm put it:
[W]hile next year will be a transition year, associate compensation for 2010 will be based on 2009 performance. The structure remains the same, and the approach is consistent with our pay-for-performance philosophy. Any changes to 2010 salaries are based on a combination of productivity targets and individual performance, as determined by performance reviews. Some associates who achieve their productivity targets will see their salaries increase by 5%. Some will have no change; and, others will have salaries lowered by 5%. For those associates whose productivity was below target levels, an additional portion of salary will be deferred, and paid after year-end by meeting their productivity and performance goals for 2010.
We know that 2010 will be a year full of both challenge and promise, and on behalf of all the partners at Seyfarth Shaw, we look forward to working with you in the year ahead.
We understand that there was a chart that explained this whole system. But a tipster reports:
The firm had a powerpoint chart which broke all of this down, but Steve Poor literally flipped through the slide in about 5 seconds and then informed associates that they could not get a copy for fear it would end up on some legal blog.
I asked for the slide, but I was denied.
That’s pretty much what I expected; am I now suppose to be 5% meaner to Seyfarth in 2010?
Earlier: Sonnenschein: Staff Layoffs and New Associate Compensation Model Potpourri
WilmerHale Joins the Killing Lockstep Party