If the second-most profitable law firm in the nation cuts bonuses by 73%, what do you expect regional firms to do?
Today, the management committee at Epstein Becker & Green made a decision that we will probably be copied at regional firms throughout the country. From the EBG internal memo:
The cautiousness of the Firm’s clients regarding their cash position has continued to affect EBG’s cash collections through November. We, like all law firms in 2008, are experiencing a slower pace of payments to the Firm from our clients than in prior years. While we are confident that these monies will be collected over time and we are well positioned for 2009, cash available at year end is, as a consequence, more limited than it has been in years when the economy was stronger.
Reflecting this reality, and on our history of conservative but responsible fiscal management that dictates prudence in retaining our cash reserves and not incurring additional debt for non-capital expenses — thereby protecting the Firm’s position as we enter 2009 — the Compensation Committee has determined that no bonuses will be paid at year end 2008. While we do not make this decision lightly, at a time when many law firms and businesses are engaged in large-scale lay-offs or worse, this decision is, we believe, a moderate response to what are unprecedented circumstances facing our industry.
Remember that a problem many firms are facing right now is that while attorneys keep billing, some clients have stopped paying.
EBG is the first firm that we’re aware of that is offering the “special bonus” of zero. But they won’t be the last. Don’t forget to send us your tips on other mid-sized and regional firms as they make difficult bonus decisions this year.
Read the unabridged statement that EBG attorneys received today, after the jump.