Lawyer PayWill $144K Become the Norm for BigLaw Associate Starting Pay?
Posted Mar 10, 2009, 06:23 am CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss
A Chicago legal recruiter says the leaders of several large law firms are considering cutting associate starting pay.
The problem, recruiter Kay Hoppe tells the Chicago Tribune, is that no one wants to be among the first to announce pay cuts.
"I've heard from several chairmen who believe first-years need to be rolled back," Hoppe said. "But they are hoping somebody else will start."
Two law firms have already started the ball rolling.
McGuireWoods announced Friday that is dropping starting pay for associates in the class of 2009 from $160,000 to $144,000. At least one other law firm—WolfBlock—has also announced a 10 percent pay cut.
McGuireWoods managing partner Craig Culbertson noted in an interview with the Tribune that lawyers in the class of 2008 had their salaries frozen this year. If the class of 2009 joins the firm at the same pay, "you start to get morale problems."
Several large law firms have frozen associate salaries, and they could offer the same justification for a pay cut.
If law firm leaders act, they will be following the advice of Bradford Hildebrandt, who urged pay cuts last week at a forum sponsored by his legal consulting firm.
“If you don’t cut associate starting salaries now, you are nuts,” Hildebrandt said. “They were too high. Now we have to pay for it.”http://www.abajournal.com/weekly/will_144k_become_the_norm_for_associate_starting_pay