Associate Salaries, Biglaw, Killing Lockstep, Money

Associate Salary Watch: Big (and Good) News from Winston & Strawn

Well that didn’t take long, did it? On Tuesday afternoon, we wrote about associates at Winston & Strawn who were upset over the lack of news on seniority-based salary bumps. Since we’re well into a new year, associates at top law firms should be getting raises, with first-years becoming second-years ($160K to $170K), second-years becoming third-years ($170K to $185), etc. But the Winston tipsters hadn’t heard anything — even though historically they’ve received pay raise news in early February, and now it’s mid-March.

Today, however, the Winston associates received some good news — very good news, in fact. “Salary memos went out today,” one Winston source reported. “The bottom line is that those who were not at market rate now are. They’ve abandoned the ‘merits-based’ system and have gone back to lockstep.”

Wow. Is merit-based compensation becoming a casualty of the economic recovery? Back when merit-based systems were all the rage, we created a category on ATL called Killing Lockstep. Perhaps now it’s time to create ones called Killing Killing Lockstep, or Lockstep Resurrected?

Regardless of whether or not this becomes a trend throughout Biglaw, Winston associates are happy — and grateful….

We heard the good news about W&S base salaries from multiple sources. Here’s what one said:

I am [an Nth year associate] associate in the D.C. office. We all received individual memos today in which the firm announced new base salaries (back to the lockstep $160K scale) for all domestic offices. All of the [Nth] years were raised to [the appropriate market salary] – regardless of hours. This move was a complete surprise – and has certainly improved morale.

In case you’ve forgotten, the market scale for base salary is generally $160K, $170K, $185K, $210K, $230K, $250K, $265K, etc.

Here’s a note from a different tipster:

It seems we are back on “market” payscales for each class (for the most part). So, double bumps for people who needed it to get to that level. Good news indeed.

Many think the quick response is due to ATL’s post, so thanks!

You’re most welcome (assuming that our post from Tuesday contributed to today’s announcement, and it wasn’t just a coincidence). And, of course, thanks to everyone from Winston who shared their concerns with us in the first place.

Sometimes shining a spotlight on a problematic situation can result in the problem being fixed. But we can’t write about problems unless we know of their existence. If you have information about your law firm that you’d like to bring to our attention, please email us or text us (646-820-TIPS or 646-820-8477). Thanks.

Earlier: Associate Bonus Watch: Winston & Strawn (And an additional issue about base salaries.)

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