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Partner Pay Secret at Some Firms

Posted Aug 23, 2007 7:43 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A handful of big law firms keep partner pay a secret in an effort to keep a lid on lawyer jealousy and reduce rancor.

Cesar Alvarez, head of Greenberg Traurig, told Legal Times the firm has refused to reveal partner pay since it was formed in 1967. Partners who don’t know what others are making aren’t angry about what someone down the hall is making, allowing the firm to pay more to big producers. "A closed system gives you more latitude to make a business decision instead of a political decision," Alvarez said.

Other firms with closed compensation systems include Sidley Austin, Jones Day and McKee Nelson.

At the other end of the spectrum are Bingham McCutchen and Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, which send out pay information by e-mail or make it available on the firm Web site.

“We find an open system works and is an important sense of fairness to the partners,” Bingham chair Jay Zimmerman told the legal newspaper.

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