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‘Appalling’ Associate Perks Proliferating

Posted Nov 26, 2007 6:15 AM CDT
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In a battle to attract the best associates, an increasing number of large law firms are offering lifestyle perks.

Unlike sedans to take associates home who work late or dinners at their desks paid for by clients—perks that directly add to the firms' bottom lines—this new generation of perks improve the out-of-office lifestyles of associates, the New York Times reports.

The "happiness committee" of Perkins Coie’s Chicago office recently gave associates candied apples. The firm also offers pet insurance.

Some firms are now offering concierge services, "in which a lawyer can have the equivalent of a personal valet pick up theater and sports tickets, the dry cleaning, take a car to the repair shop or even choose a Halloween costume," the paper reports. Among the firms offering this new generation of perks:

-- Sullivan & Cromwell, which guarantees the first $100,000 of mortgages of associates who have been with the firm for at least six months.

-- DLA Piper, which reimburses employees $2,000 when they buy a hybrid car.

-- Fulbright & Jaworski, which offers on-site tailoring as well as reimbursements to employees who buy Subaru, Nissan or General Motors vehicles.

The new benefits are not winning universal acclaim from the old guard. "Forget the pet insurance and concierge services: That’s setting up people’s lives, and I find that appalling," Mitchell S. Roth, a principal at Chicago's Much Shelist Denenberg Ament & Rubenstein, tells the paper.

But even his firm has occasionally brought in a masseuse to rub the tense shoulders of its attorneys. "It's for morale," he said.

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