Law Practice

Chicago Firm Creates 2 Tiers of Associates

Law firms with two tiers of partners are commonplace. So it was perhaps foreseeable that some would respond to ever-increasing starting salaries for attorneys by creating two tiers of associates.

Chicago-based Chapman and Cutler has done just that, giving associates a choice between working more hours for top dollar (the firm recently went to a starting salary of $160,000 for associates) or fewer hours for less (exact figures aren’t specified), reports New York Lawyer (reg. req.), in an article reprinted from the National Law Journal.

Associates apparently make this choice in their second year, according to the article.

“The salaries have escalated really dramatically and yet people seem to be really unhappy,” says Rick Cosgrove, the 220-lawyer firm’s chief executive partner. “They don’t want their whole life to be work.”

He says the firm decided to give associates a choice of whether to earn more or work less after determining that associates disagree about which option they prefer.

A similar approach is being tried by Seattle-based Perkins Coie, as discussed in this month’s ABA Journal.

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