After we published news of Winston & Strawn’s salary freeze, our Sidley Austin tipsters went apoplectic. A Facebook message I received moments after publishing the Winston news seems to sum up the mood of Sidley associates:
My firm [Sidley] is more like Winston than it is like a good firm. I should have gone to Kirkland.
Ouch. Why the sadness? Well, today is payday, and Sidley people have just learned that, as of now, their salaries are still frozen in place.
Details after the jump.
UPDATE: After this post went up, Sidley decided to announce its 2010 salary structure. Click here for our updated coverage.
We’ve documented how Sidley has been playing a strange waiting game with its associate pay scale. Almost a month ago, the firm claimed it needed more market information before deciding what to pay its own associates. But nobody is exactly sure what information Sidley is waiting for.
Tipsters report that while the firm takes its sweet time, salaries remain ice cold:
Sidley pay freeze is still in place as of this paycheck. Everyone I know is interviewing, no one really wants to be at a firm that takes the “we’ll get back to you but we promise the check is in the mail” approach to dealing with their associates. They had no problem raising my rate the instant the new year came but apparently they’re baffled by concepts like “market compensation” and “associate morale.”
It is a little bit funny that firms seem to know exactly what to charge clients — despite the ongoing recession — but seemingly have no idea what to pay associates. If Sidley can make the new rates stick, will it raise associate salaries? That’s waiting for the market information, to be sure, but it has little to do with the peer firms Sidley told associates about back in January.
But there are other possible reasons for Sidley to be dragging its feet on the associate pay front:
The only plausible speculative explanation I’ve heard as to why the freeze is still in place is that they are trying to figure out a way to get rid of lockstep while still trying to pretend that they keep pace with their alleged peers.
Ah yes. Trying to cut salaries without looking like you’re cutting salaries takes time and planning. I mean, associates will see right through any attempt to do that, but you never know. An extra week or two spent trying to make a merit-based pay program look better than it is might just fool a few law students into thinking the firm is keeping pace with the top of the market.
Good luck, Sidley friends. Sorry the firm won’t give you guys salary clarity.
Earlier: Sidley Austin Mystery Meeting Follow-Up