Late last week, Foley & Lardner released its new salary structure. Honestly, I can’t tell you what they’re doing. I’m a professional firm double-talk decoder, but trying to pull out key phrases from this memo made me feel like John Nash.
The memo starts off similarly to other announcements from firms that want to move to merit-based compensation. The firm has conducted a major review, the recession sucks, you know the drill.
Foley is breaking associates out into three tiers, similar to Orrick and other firms that have moved away from lockstep. But when the memo turns to “specifics” — like how much money people will actually make — the Foley & Lardner memo turns to mush:
Within Tier I, the compensation structure will be similar to what has been in place for the last several years. Specifically, there will be a set starting salary in each office for the stub year and the first full fiscal year following law school graduation. During the second and third full years, associates will have a base salary and a 1950 billable hour deferred salary payable at year-end if they achieve a minimum of 1950 billable hours and 150 investment time hours during the year.
The starting Tier I salary is the one thing that’s clear:
Salary schedules will be distributed in each office. The starting salary in New York this year will be $160,000. In our other major city markets (Boston, Chicago, Washington and all of our California offices), where the recently announced starting salaries of the major law firms have varied to a greater extent, the starting salary will be $145,000. The starting salaries in our other offices will generally maintain the differentials from the major city amounts which have existed in recent years.
Salaries for everybody else are not at all clear. See if you can understand what Foley is doing with Tier II and “Senior Counsel” associates.