Almost a year and a half after announcing plans to move away from lockstep compensation and implement a merit-based pay system for its associates, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius has decided to keep things the same.
Associated were informed via videoconference by firm chairman Francis Milone they will receive base salaries in 2011 equal to the prevailing market rate for their class year. In addition, the firm will maintain its bonus pool, payments which have always been merit-based.
In the article at amlawdaily.com, Charles Engros, Jr., Morgan Lewis managing partner for personnel was quoted as saying: “In talking to associates and clients and partners, we concluded that it really was going to be potentially disruptive and not really help us achieve what we wanted to achieve any more than making some tweaks…to our current system.”
Associates were confused about whether they would be in direct competition for advancement. As well, there were concerns that peer cooperation could be compromised, per Engros. He also noted that clients did not have a preference for either method of compensation.
It’s likely that maintaining the lockstep method is reassuring for some associates.
In addition to the lockstep announcement, the firm said it is creating a new “career track” for some lawyers which will enable the firm to retain associates that began on the partner track but will not make partner. Engros said the firm hasn’t yet determined how large the class of “career track” associates will be.