After MoFo on Monday became the first firm we know of to cut California associate salaries, but leave New York the same, we checked in with a couple of other firms to see whether they agreed with MoFo’s thinking on the matter.
Bob Williams, chief talent officer at Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton, got back to us and said his firm had grappled with the same issue.
New York’s cost of living is higher than that of San Francisco or Los Angeles, he said. But in the end, the firm decided to pay associates in the same year the same salary because New York associates aren’t necessarily more profitable.
“It’s not really the case that New York lawyers are consistently billing at a higher rate and generating more profit,” Williams said, adding that it also not the case that New York associates work only on New York matters.
The firm froze salaries earlier this year, and decided to pay all incoming associates $145,000, regardless of city. When they become second years, they will earn $160,000.
“We were driven to move the first step down to $145,000 because we wanted to give a rate decrease for clients for first years, and I have a feeling a lot of firms will want to do that,” Williams said.
— Amanda Royal
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