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Law Practice Management

Sutherland Eliminates Lockstep, Cuts 1st-Year Pay in Atlanta

Posted Nov 23, 2009 3:39 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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In the latest move by a market leader to eliminate the traditional lockstep progression toward partnership, Sutherland has reconfigured its 175 associates from year-by-year classes to three groups into which they advance based on skills.

Their pay increases also will be tied to skills increases, recounts the Daily Report in an article reprinted in New York Lawyer (reg. req.).

Meanwhile, the law firm has also cut its starting pay in Atlanta, to $135,000, although it will remain at $160,000 in New York, Washington, D.C., and Houston.

The elimination of lockstep is not intended to cut associate pay—which has been budgeted at the usual level—and the new program will benefit associates by offering them more flexibility, managing partner Mark Wasserman tells the legal publication.

“There is skepticism, sure, but I think it's a better system for associates,” he said, noting: "Not all of them will believe that until it's in place."

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