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Orrick, DLA Piper Warn Associates of a 2009 Pay Freeze

Posted Jan 5, 2009 7:44 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Two more law firms have released memos giving associates some bad news: Their pay will be frozen in 2009.

Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe and DLA Piper announced pay freezes last week, according to Above the Law. The blog obtained copies of memos explaining the decision. Orrick cites a “radically changed business environment” while DLA Piper refers to a “difficult business environment.”

Orrick said 2008 associate bonuses will be paid as promised. The amounts will range from $25,000 to $85,000, according to the American Lawyer. That's higher than several large firms, which are reducing year-end associate bonuses to a maximum of $32,500.

Bonus decisions at DLA Piper will be made in January or early February, but the firm says outstanding performance will continue to be rewarded through the program.

The first large law firm to announce an associate pay freeze was Latham & Watkins. All first and second-year associates there will make the 2008 going rate of $160,000 in base pay this year. Dorsey & Whitney is also freezing pay, the American Lawyer story says.

DLA Piper made news in November when it invited its 275 nonequity partners to make capital contributions and become equity partners, part of a “seismic shift” to a one-tier partnership structure.

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