We’ve been having some fun documenting the curious game of chicken happening in Chicago. The top firms in the city seem to be waiting for each other to set the associate salary market — even though that market has already been set.
At Jenner & Block, “merit-based” salary increases are in effect. But the raise — at least for some people — is nowhere near market salary. One tipster reports:
The situation is bad at Jenner Block. You should write about how cheap the firm is. A title should be something like: “PPP up 33%, Associate Bonuses 33% of Last Years.” Well that is the truth. For the past two years associates who made hours have gotten 5k raises and all others have gotten zero. So, the salary scale, for those that have consistently made hours (worse if you slip a year or have a slow department), is effectively: 160k, 165k, 170k, 180k…. the more senior you get the more the gap between Jenner and the market.
And for bonuses, this year they start at 2k, even for 3rd years.
Well, $5,000 here, $5,000 there, pretty soon you’re talking about real money. I’m sure if our Jenner friends just hang in there for another decade, they will be very happy with their compensation.
According to spokespersons for Jenner & Block, our tipsters are incorrectly reporting their salaries. But the firm isn’t very clear on what salaries Jenner folks are actually receiving.
Details and a statement from the firm, after the jump.
Multiple tipsters reported salary raises of only $5,000 to us, but Jenner claims the scale is merit-based:
As you may know, several years ago, Jenner & Block adopted a merit-based system for associate compensation. We work hard to ensure that our compensation system is fair. Salary increases were given to those who met our hours target (2000 or 1950 plus 50 pro bono) and had exceptional performance. In giving salary increases we considered and met the market in the various cities in which each of our offices is located. The scale in your email is incorrect.
With respect to bonuses, the percentage of associates receiving a bonus this year was higher than the last two years. We paid bonuses to associates who met the bonus requirement (2050 or 2000 plus 50 pro bono). As with salary increases, our bonuses are merit-based, not lockstep. Amounts ranged from $2,000 for the most junior associates to $38,000 for the more senior associates.
At least the bonus information is clear. The salary situation is much more confusing. Tipsters who work at Jenner claim that their raise was $5,000 and Jenner doesn’t deny that. Above the Law asked Jenner for further clarification about its salary scale:
[A]s we stated in our earlier email, Jenner & Block’s associate compensation is merit based. We are not lockstep. We consider all elements of an associate’s performance in determining compensation, including the market in the location of each of our offices.
So, there is no
spoon scale? Don’t even merit-based firms have a fairly standard raise they give to associates who meet expectations? And don’t those raises generally match the market salaries?
As far as we can tell, not at Jenner.
But maybe we are only hearing from low-performing associates who got nailed under the merit-based system? Are there Jenner associates out there who are making market salaries? Or more?