As associate salaries climb (further) into the stratosphere, will firms start experimenting with different compensation schemes? Is lockstep compensation for associates headed for the dustbin of history?
As we mentioned yesterday, Thelen Reid just moved to a two-tier system. And now we’re hearing that Howrey LLP may have something odd up its sleeve.
Today the firm had a meeting / conference call about compensation matters. Here are two reports:
“They are planning to adopt a sweeping salary change that amounts to ‘it depends.’ It seems that they will determine salary based on individual evaluations and various forms of progress indicators. Who knows what this means. They said that “market rate” is not the upper cap, and that all-stars could make more than market. This plan is basically final, but they will be speaking to people in focus groups to fine tune the policy.”
“Switching to a ‘competancy’ model as of 2008. First years at 160 but from there based on skills – some above and some below market. Details not released yet as focus groups will be used to fine tune the program.”
Interesting, albeit vague. We’re eager to see what results from this process.
Is Howrey adopting an innovative approach, one that will result in a more flexible and/or meritocratic associate compensation structure? Or is it just an attempt by the firm to get away with paying below-market salaries?
Two things we’ve heard recently (the first more definitive than the second):
1. Howrey LLP: Last week, they made a “secret announcement” — nothing in writing — of associate pay raises in Chicago, California, and Washington, DC.
2. Baker & McKenzie: In their Chicago office (and perhaps others), they sent around a memo similar to the Jenner & Block memo. It was basically “a non-committal memo, pledging to remain competitive, and acknowledging recent associate salary adjustments in the market.”
If you can provide us with more details, or have some associate pay raise news not previously reported herein, please drop us a line. Thanks. Update: The Howrey raises have been announced, but not yet implemented. When they will take effect, and whether they will be made retroactive, is unclear.
We like your idea of drawing up a list of major law firms that have not (yet) joined in the latest round of associate pay raises.
Such lists have been floating around in the comments over the past few weeks. But we thought we’d try and prepare an “official” LIST OF SHAME. Law students, law clerks, and potential lateral associates:
When thinking about whether or not to accept an offer from a particular Biglaw shop, consider whether they appear on the List of Shame — along with all the non-compensation-related variables that should be considered when choosing a firm.
But do hold their presence on the List of Shame against them. That’s why we call it the List of Shame!
From government to academia:
* The brilliant Michelle Boardman is returning to teach at George Mason University School of Law. Professor Boardman had been on leave, serving as Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Counsel. From government to private practice:
* Sue Ellen Wooldridge, assistant attorney general for environment and natural resources, resigned from the Justice Department earlier this week, stating that she plans to return to the private sector.
(Interestingly enough, her alleged beau, J. Steven Griles — a former deputy secretary of the interior, who Interior Department sources say has been dating Wooldridge — has been notified that he’s a target in the Jack Abramoff corruption investigation.)
* Bankruptcy Chief Judge Melanie Cyganowski (E.D.N.Y.) is resigning to become chair of the bankruptcy litigation practice of Greenberg Traurig (NY). From private practice to government:
* Steven M. Cohen, a partner at Cooley Godward Kronish, has been selected by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo as his new chief of staff. Lateral moves:
* White-collar defense lawyers John Moscow and Jack Blum, to Baker Hostetler (NY), from New York boutique Rosner Moscow & Napierala. Moscow and Blum are gurus of the law of money laundering.
* Litigators Michael Armstrong, Paul Rooney, and William Purcell, to the newly opened New York office of Howrey. They come from, respectively, Cooley Godward Kronish, solo practice, and K&L Gates.
* Five litigators, to the new Houston office of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, from litigation boutique Edwards, Burns & Krider. Names here.
* Intellectual property litigator Richard Pettus, to King & Spalding (NY), from McDermott, Will & Emery (NY).
* Corporate lawyer Michael Nissim, to Vedder Price (NY), from McDermott, Will & Emery (NY).
Links after the jump.
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Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
Deal flow has clearly picked recently up for most US associates, counsels and partners in Hong Kong/China and Singapore. We are on the phone with a lot of these folks on a daily basis, many of whom we have known for years. Further, the head of our Asia team, Evan Jowers, and Kinney’s founder and president, Robert Kinney, frequently meet in person with leading US partners in Asia to assess their needs and keep on top of the inside scoop at as many firms as possible. The need for legal recruiting help in Asia from experienced recruiters appears to be live and well. In March, Evan and Robert were in Beijing at such meetings, in April, Evan was in Hong Kong, and for half of June Evan will be in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Thus its pretty easy for us to tell when there has been an across-the-market pick up in capital markets and corporate work.
On an average day in Asia when Evan and Robert visit firms, they typically have 5 to 9 meetings a day, mostly with US partners in the market. The reason they have these meetings is not simply because Kinney makes a lot of US attorney placements in Asia and that a particular firm may have openings; instead these are just visits with friends. After years of working together as business partners, the folks at Kinney are actually these peoples’ friends. The firms Kinney work closely with in Asia (which is just about every law firm – call us if you want to know the one firm in the world we will never place anyone with again, ever, and why) look forward to the visits, or at least act like they do. After seven years in the market, many of the client partners are former associate candidates. Also, these US partners see Kinney as a very good source of market information as well, because they know how deep their contacts are in the market and how frequently they are speaking to counterparts at peer firms.
In a land that is right here and in a time that is right now, a technology has arisen so powerful that it can replace basic human document review. Is it time to bow down before our new robot overlords?
First, here’s a little story about me: my life in the legal world began as a paralegal. My first case was a GIANT patent infringement case that was already six years old and had involved as many as five companies, multiple US courts, the ITC and an international standards committee. I knew nothing about any of this.
On my first day, my supervisor (a paralegal with at least eight other cases driving her crazy) sat me down in front of a Concordance database with a 100,000+ patents and patent file histories. “Code these,” she said. I learned that “coding”, for the purposes of this exercise, meant manually typing the inventor’s name, the title of the patent, the assignee, the file date, and other objective data for each document. I worked on that project – and only that project – for at least the first six months of my job. After a week or so, time began to blur.
What I know, in retrospect and with absolutely certainty, is that as time began to blur, so did my judgment. So did my attention to detail. If you could tell me that I did not make at least one mistake a day – one inconsistent spelling, one reversed day and month, one incorrectly spaced title – I frankly would need to see your evidence. I would not believe it. The human mind is trainable but it is not a machine.
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