Saturday, January 3, 2009

salary freezes

The big news on some of the other legal blogs appears to be salary freezes at various AM Law firms.  This is usually followed by comments by associates at these firms noting how firm is traditionally "cheap," or a "follower," etc.  Similarly, there's been a lot of talk on the boards about annual bonuses, whether "Skadden" level or "measly" half-Skadden (believe me, it is still a darn good bonus).  In these times, with you, your relatives, or friends being laid off, why are we complaining?

If you have a bigLaw job and let's say, started off at 160,000 or even 135-145,000, the fact that firms are going to hold for a year at the same salary shouldn't be alarming. Of course, it is nice to get raises - understand the cost of living increases -- but I ask the same question; wouldn't you prefer a pay freeze or a reduced bonus over no job for you and your friends??  People need to come back to reality here -- a "half-Skadden" is still a friggin nice thing to have.  And it is a heck of a lot better than being a headhunter's reject because there's few jobs out there.

Start the new year off without the complaints.  Be enthusiastic.  Be a company man or woman (while networking, developing expertise, growing your reputation and base).  Long term view should trump the short term whining.  

I also want to address social networking, and will do that in an upcoming post.

Thanks for your votes on the ABA journal.  I still go trounced by the Temporary Attorney, but apparently there is a lot of interest in that topic these days!

Happy 09 once again.  


Anonymous said...

Law schools and law firms should follow the business school model, and place a much higher recruitment premium on people who have worked at least 2-3 years before law school, or even make it virtually a requirement (like the top business schools). The problem you have is that many law graduates entering the profession have never worked a full time office job in their lives, and come away thinking that huge bonuses and year-by-year salary increases are the norm in the working world.

Once people have seen how the rest of the private sector operates, they won't feel nearly as entitled to whine about 5-figure bonuses and an occasional salary freeze. Frankly, if this were any other job, we won't even be mentioning bonuses under our breaths.

So yes, agree with the post - time to get a huge dose of reality check.

Anonymous said...

what a joke. this entire line of reasoning only makes sense if partners end up taking a hit financially in '08/'09. if they earn more than '07 and you tell associates they have to deal with the reality that times are tough you're
a) insulting their intelligence
b) giving them even more motivation to leave which in turn drives up costs for firm and lowers morale.

And partners wonder why associates bash them all the time.

Hiring Partner said...

Do associates have clients of their own? I think not; it is the partners who generally bring in the business. Of course, nonproductive partners should be dealt with. In today's market, if I were a third year associate making very good dough, I would shut up and do my work -- much better than sitting in my fancy shoes on the street

Anonymous said...

amazing. if you actually read what's written above it is rather clear that the point is that partners have no qualms lying to the associates that do all their work and tell the associates that they will need to take a pay cut due to tough economic times while the partners earn even more than in prior years.

the issue is not associates sacrificing as part of the firm. it is the audacity of a group of bald face liars telling those who slave away that they will earn less for reasons other than the true reason in many instances. namely, greed.

it's also short-sighted from a business standpoint as it increases turnover when the turnover rates are already far higher than ideal for a well-run business.

finally, the point wasn't that partners who bring in clients shouldn't get their pay. no one disputes that they earned that (and the right to tell associates to shut up and work).

the point was, and is, that when associates see salaries decreased, or even worse, excellent associates laid off, but the multitude of partners who bring in little business and have really no great expertise keep their jobs.

the fact that you can't listen and respond to the point made, but instead just angrily write off a response that essentially says 'i bring in the clients so shut up' suggests that you've had a few too many years of people just saying yes to you all the time because you're a partner to realize what everyone really thinks.

sadly, many partners delude themselves and act like celebrities who have their crew and are shielded from ever having to actually deal with criticism from an "inferior"

Anonymous said...

I have a simple, practical question.

How does one handle sick days while working in big law? Unfortunately, about once or twice a year I get really sick and unable to leave bed for 2-3 days (and sometimes up to 5 days). With time senstive assignments, how does this work? Are law firms generally a bit sensitive to this if they aren't one of the grueling sweatshops? Or is this unacceptable across the board?

Anonymous said...

Speaking of winning business, what's the appropriate protocol for an associate when he sees a business opportunity? In other words, how do you start to build your own book of business without stepping on partners' toes or be accused of trying to overstep one's role? It sounds like partners can be very territorial when it comes to these things.