Law Practice Management

Pillsbury Cuts 1st-Year Pay to $145K, But Offers $15K Bonus If Target Hours Met

In the latest move in an ongoing wave of pay cuts among a number of well-known law firms, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman has confirmed that it is cutting the starting salary for first-year associates to $145,000 in all of its offices except New York, where they will be paid $160,000.

However, associates outside New York who meet target hours are also eligible for a $15,000 bonus, the firm says in a written statement provided by a representative to the ABA Journal. And it appears that this may not be the final answer to the associate salary question for all of 2010.

The statement says Pillsbury made the changes “after analyzing recent changes in the associate compensation marketplace,” and notes that the firm hasn’t yet “announced any other changes to our 2010 associate salaries.” It adds that “Pillsbury remains committed to paying competitive compensation at all associate levels.”

A copy of an internal memo distributed to associates today is reprinted in Above the Law, and the firm has confirmed the memo’s accuracy to the ABA Journal.

In it, Pillsbury leaves open the possibility that the firm will revisit its 2010 associate salary structure, noting that “the market for first-year associate salaries outside of New York among our peer firms is still in flux.” If it should elect to increase first-year pay to $160,000 outside New York, that increase will be retroactive to Jan. 1, the memo states. (The new first-year pay scale outside New York apparently took effect Jan. 1.)

The memo says the target associates outside New York must meet to be eligible for a $15,000 bonus is 1,950 billable hours.

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