Associate Salaries, Salary Freeze

Update: Sidley Austin (Finally) Announces Salaries

Sidley Austin new logo Sidley Austin Brown Wood ATL Above the Law blog.jpgSidley Austin associates, never underestimate the power of flipping out. Earlier today, we reported that Sidley Austin associates hit the proverbial roof (“proverbial roof” = hit send button on emails to Above the Law) when Winston & Strawn announced its salary structure (which we reported even earlier today). The Winston announcement, coupled with the fact that Sidley associates received another frozen paycheck last night/this morning, made associates at the firm very angry with Sidley’s reluctance to communicate the 2010 salary scale.
Well, Sidley associates, your complaints have been answered. Sidley just announced its 2010 salary scale, and the firm will be making a true-up raise. The raises will be retroactive to January 1, 2010.
Yay? Not quite. Some Sidley Austin people are still annoyed that the firm will evidently not be giving out a make-whole bonus, as other firms have done.
Details and the memo after the jump.


It seems pretty clear that the power of Sidley associates prompted the firm to move on salaries today. If the firm had planned all along to raise salaries on this day, surely they would have done so before today’s round of paychecks went out.
Perhaps drunk with the power of having management actually listen to them, some Sidley associates are looking to press their advantage:

We’re not getting any money back from last year [when the firm was frozen], so please don’t report this as a good news post for Sidley. The firm is still behind Kirkland and Latham in terms of market salary.

Whoa, slow down there, buddy. The firm just gave you a raise. Can’t people take at least one moment to be happy about that?
At some level, Sidley put itself in this kind of instant comparison situation by listing Kirkland & Ellis and Latham & Watkins as firms Sidley pays attention to when looking at the market for associate salaries. As we’ve said: Kirkland never froze salaries. So the only way to truly match them would be to do what Latham did and give a double-bump raise alongside a make-whole bonus. That puts people back at market salary and pays them back for the lost year of 2009 that colleagues at Kirkland didn’t experience.
Sidley didn’t do that. But it is back to paying top of the market salaries, and surely that is the most important thing.
So really, this is a good news story for Sidley associates. Congratulations.
Read the Sidley salary memo below.
SIDLEY AUSTIN — MEMORANDUM — 2010 ASSOCIATE COMPENSATION
TO: All U.S. Associates
FROM: The Management Committee
RE: U.S. Associate Salary Increases
We are pleased to announce our associate salary schedule for 2010.
Class Year 2010 Salary
2009 $160,000
2008 $170,000
2007 $185,000
2006 $210,000
2005 $230,000
2004 $250,000
2003 $265,000
2002 $280,000
Associate salary increases will be made in accordance with this schedule by class level. As was described to you at the January 15th town hall meeting, variations from the schedule will be made for some associates based upon performance or productivity. Those associates who are receiving these adjustments will be communicated with individually. Increases will be made retroactive to January 1, 2010 and will appear in the upcoming February 26, 2010 paychecks.
On behalf of all of our partners, we thank you for your professionalism and dedication to making this Firm an exceptional place to practice law.
Earlier: Another Frozen Pay Check from Sidley
Mayer Brown: True-Up Raises in Washington. Somebody Get Sidley on the Phone.
Sidley Austin Mystery Meeting Follow-Up

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