Money

Howrey LLP Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.JPGAs 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?

Miami 2 South Beach Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgWe’re more or less done with our series of posts profiling various “secondary” legal markets. We thought about putting up the Portsmouth thread that some trolls commenters have been demanding, but we decided against it after reading this.
So now we’re going to loop back to a city that we previously covered, to wit, Miami. We have a news hook for this post: a recent story, from the Daily Business Review, about how 2006 treated South Florida’s top law firms.
More details about this market, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Skaddenfreude: Life Is Good in Miami”

Covington Burling LLP logo Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.JPGSome good news for law clerks heading to the New York office of Covington & Burling after their clerkships. A source at the firm directed us to check out this updated section of their website:

We reward judicial clerks who come directly to the firm following their clerkship(s) with credit for purposes of both salary and partnership consideration, together with a $50,000 bonus for one clerkship and a $70,000 bonus for two clerkships for those who have clerked for a federal judge, or for the highest court in any state or the District of Columbia.

So add a new member to the $50K/$70K Club. But note that Covington is taking the Ropes & Gray approach: the new and improved clerkship bonuses are paid out in New York only. In Washington and San Francisco, the firm still pays a $35,000 clerkship bonus.
Update: Also noteworthy, per a commenter: “This is different from the other $70K bonuses in that it only applies to people with two-clerkships, rather than one two-year clerkship.”
In addition, we’ve heard a rumor that Willkie Farr & Gallagher has raised its clerkship bonus to $50,000. But we haven’t seen the email, and Willkie’s website and NALP form don’t reflect this info. If you can confirm, please drop us a line.
A “List of Shame” for top firms paying below-market clerkship bonuses, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Clerkship Bonus Watch: Covington (New York), Willkie, and a List of Shame”

Thelen Reid Brown Raysman Steiner LLP Abovethelaw Above the Law legal blog tabloid.jpgAssociates at Thelen Reid were clamoring for a post shining the spotlight on their firm. Here are some representative emails:

“Since your posting on Bingham worked so well, how about starting one on Thelen? The silence from OTC [Office of the Chair] is deafening, and people are super-disgruntled.”

“We’ve waited long enough here, and they haven’t said anything. We’ve come up badly in who knows how many articles. We’re the highest ranked firm (#17) on the Cal Law 25 not to raise, and several below us already have. And several firms that would be below us on the AmLaw 100 (we would be #69, but AmLaw refuses to count firms as merged unless the merger happened by a certain date, and our merger was officially Dec 1, 2006) post-merger have raised, and we haven’t. And our PPP [profits per partner] is quoted in one article as $860K and in another as $850K, $15K-$25K behind Pillsbury who has raised.”

“[A]lthough management hasn’t said anything, popular opinion is that they will raise first years to $160K and compress everyone else across the board, mainly because that’s what they always do. I don’t quite understand how they feel they have “matched market” without lockstep salaries.”

We meant to do a Thelen Reid post some time ago, but we never got around to it. And perhaps now one is no longer needed, since the firm has matched — sort of.
More details, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide Pay Raise Watch: Thelen Reid, and A Tale of Two Tiers”

Happy Texas Unhappy Texas Above the Law blog.jpgWe did a post on associate salaries in the Texas markets last month. But since a number of you have been clamoring for another, and we haven’t done one as part of our recent series on various non-New York markets, here’s another post going out to the Lone Star State.
In our last Texas post, we included some starting salary information for various Texas offices. Today we’re going with a different theme: compression. From a Texas tipster:

Leaving aside the fact that the large Texas-based firms (and many national firms with large Texas presences) are playing a game of petrified chicken on the latest round of raises, I have seen no coverage at all on the massive compression resulting from the last round of raises. These firms at issue are some biggies: Baker Botts, Vinson & Elkins, Akin Gump, Fulbright, etc.

Here’s how it worked after last year’s round of national raises: First years in Texas got a big increase, from about $110k to $135k. 2nd and 3rd years also got around a $15k increase. And that’s pretty much where it stopped. 7th years received a $5,000 raise, to about a $185,000 base. To put that in perspective, it’s about 50% less than a 7th year currently makes (at the same firm or a national that pays a uniform scale) in LA, NYC, DC, etc. That is, a 7th year at BB in Texas makes $185,000; a 7th year at BB in NYC makes $275,000. Sheeeeeit! And don’t look for explanations in billing rates. The vast majority of work done in Texas by these firms is billed at national rates — the same charged in DC and LA (though maybe 10% less than in NYC).

The point: screw the first years! They now make only $50,000 less than the folks up for partner. Not that partnership chances have increased.

Counting on you to get the ball rolling!

Franky, relatively broke and senior in Texas

Feel free to bitch and moan — or, if you’re not from Texas, to remind them that they pay no state income tax and have a relatively low cost of living — in the comments. Thanks.
Earlier: Nationwide Pay Raise Watch: Unhappy, Texas

100 dollar bill Abovethelaw Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPGGood news for clerks with offers from Debevoise & Plimpton: the bonus is no longer flat. Debevoise is joining the $70K Club for two-year clerks.
The announcement email appears after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Clerkship Bonus Watch: Debevoise Joins the $70K Club”

portland.jpg
To wrap up the week, we stay in the West and move up the coast to Portland, Oregon. Portland is the nation’s 23rd largest city, and probably the greenest one. We hear the quality of life is pretty good, but what about the money?
This comes from a February New York Times article:

Holland & Knight’s new associates are paid between $93,000, the rate in Portland, Ore., and $160,000 , the rate in New York.

Is this representative of where Portland’s at generally? Discuss Portland associate salaries and other issues of interest in the comments.

Perkins Coie LLP Above the Law blog.jpgPerkins Coie is raising to market in California, with a catch. To get the raise, associates must 1) be “on pace” of 1900 hours; and 2) have “no outstanding timesheet penalties.”
The memo’s after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “National Pay Raise Watch: Perkins Coie to $160k in California”

ca.jpg
From Vegas we take a short drive through the desert into the beautiful state of California.
Since Los Angeles, San Francisco and Silicon Valley are regularly covered on ATL, this open thread will be for the rest of California: San Diego, Sacramento, or any other not-regularly-covered market in the Golden State that you care to discuss. Feel free to discuss associate salaries in these markets or any other issues of interest in the comments.

Jenner Block LLP logo Abovethelaw Above the Law legal tabloid.JPGThis from a source:

Jenner has gone to $160,000 for first years in its Chicago, DC, and Dallas offices. The NY office will remain at $160,000. More senior classes will be determined and communicated individually. The raise was communicated this morning by individual memoranda and is effective August 1, 2007.

Earlier: Prior ATL Jenner & Block Coverage

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