Back in December, DLA Piper decided to move to a merit based compensation system. Attendant to that move, the firms instituted a 10% pay cut, dropping starting salaries to $145,000. Despite widespread outrage among DLA associates, the firm repeatedly defended the move.
Other Biglaw firms that moved away from lockstep would not follow DLA down the salary rabbit hole.
Now, DLA Piper has given it up its quest to drive down associate salaries. The National Law Journal reports:
DLA Piper is raising associate pay by 10 percent, in a move that will return compensation to their levels before the economic downturn.
A memo released to attorneys on Thursday by firm leaders announced midyear pay increases in offices outside New York. DLA Piper raised salaries in New York in January to pre-recession levels of $160,000 for first-year associates.
Welcome back to the pack, DLA? Tipsters report that the firm is not quite there yet…
DLA’s managing partner said that the raise was an attempt to retain mid-level associates:
DLA Piper U.S. Managing Partner Terry O’Malley said that the increase was primarily intended to help retain midlevel associates. He said that the job market didn’t demand that the firm raise starting pay, but that the firm had decided to implement raises for all associates instead of doing so piecemeal.
“We realize the value proposition [of the increase] is strongest with experienced associates,” O’Malley said. “With respect to new associates, I think you could make the case to do something differently. We thought it was better to return to levels across the board.”
Well, slow down there. DLA Piper is still doing something differently than their Biglaw peers. A tipster reports:
Still with a 15% holdback. Better, but still a grudging minimum by the management.
Apparently DLA is still holding back 15% of their associates’ salaries until the end of the year. That’s a nice little no interest loan the associates are giving to the firm.
Despite the holdback, this is still good news for DLA associates. It turns out that DLA Piper is not immune to the market.
DLA Piper Reinstates Pre-Recession Pay Rates [National Law Journal]