Drinker Biddle Will Not Defer Associates, But Will Cut Salaries
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Drinker Biddle will allow its 36 incoming associates to start on time in September; but their salaries will be reduced, and they will enter a training program rather than jumping right in.

From a memo so long, we wondered if he catches the whale at the end:

Many of our lawyers have asked us whether we intend to modify our hiring program. In particular, given client questions about the value of very junior lawyers, it has been suggested that we should rely more on lateral hiring of more senior lawyers who have already received their initial training elsewhere. …we believe the answer is not to cut off the source of talent and future leaders of our firm by abandoning our traditional practice of hiring lawyers out of law schools. Nevertheless, we are now reviewing how we run our summer programs and train recent law school graduates to be Drinker Biddle lawyers. …we may very well hire fewer people and commit to train them better.


We have also decided to welcome and train our incoming lawyers rather than defer their arrival for months or a full year…

Accordingly, we are advising all of our incoming lawyers to join us in late September of this year and to expect to spend the first several months of their practice receiving intensive training – a training program far more rigorous and focused than any we have previously provided. Although much of this training will be focused on traditional legal skills relevant to particular areas of practice, we also expect to spend substantial time educating our new lawyers about our clients’ businesses and Drinker Biddle’s approach to adding value in countless practical ways…

During this initial period.. we will pay our incoming lawyers at an annual salary rate of $105,000. Any client work they perform will be billed at a significant rate reduction to ensure that, if new lawyers perform work for clients, the value is clear. In the spring of 2010 – once our new lawyers have been with us for at least six months – we expect to bring their compensation in line with then prevalent market rates for first-year lawyers.

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The firm also announced a new flex time policy.

Some time in 2010, the firm plans to announce a new structure for associate compensation and bonuses.

Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP was founded in Philadelphia in 1849. The firm has more than 650 attorneys in 12 offices in the US. Its largest offices are in Philadelphia; Chicago; Florham Park, New Jersey; and Washington, DC.


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