A quick glance at the calendar reveals that today is February 1st. 2010 is fully under way. Is there a reason why Mayer Brown associates still don’t know how much money they’ll be making in the current year? Mayer Brown had a two hour all associates meeting on Friday. Amazingly, management was able to babble for 120 minutes without saying a word about 2010 salaries:
We just had the quarterly meeting and no announcement of compensation news, lots of discussion of uptick in lateral hiring. WTF!?! Are Sidley and Mayer price fixing or what?
The Sidley quip refers to the fact that Sidley Austin is also waiting around — for no discernible reason — to make a hard decision about associate salaries.
Is this evidence of collusion among big Chicago firms? I’m going the other way on this.
To me, this kind of game of salary chicken proves that these firms are not colluding to artificially spend as little as possible on their associates. Maybe they would like to, but if Mayer and Sidley were actually getting together to fix prices, they would have done so by now.
Instead it appears that both firms are waiting for the other one to blink. I mean, they’ve seen their revenue numbers. They’ve noticed that Latham has unfrozen salaries — and Kirkland never froze in the first place. The firms have collected market information, but it sure seems like they want just one more firm to low ball associate salaries so they don’t seem cheap as compared to their competitors.
But, given what Latham and Kirkland have done, both Mayer and Sidley will seem cheap if they don’t bump salaries back up to market level. So, what’s the hold up?
Another Maybe Brown tipster puts it this way:
Dear Uncle Mayer,
Raise my salary, re-freeze my salary, I don’t care. Just grow a pair and do it. It’s embarrassing to work for a firm that doesn’t have the sack to make a business decision.
It is strange that some firms are having such trouble pulling the salary trigger.