Seyfarth Shaw Abandons Lockstep
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Like many firms before it, Seyfarth Shaw is abandoning lockstep starting in 2011. Details haven’t been released, not even to the associates who must now spend next year trying to hit performance goals that have not been announced in order to receive salaries that have not yet been determined but that’s just part of the charm of working for biglaw. 2010 salaries will be based on 2009 performance and although exceptional associates can expect a 5% salary increase next year, those that merely met expectations will be rewarded with a 5% pay cut. Exceeding expectations without being exceptional is good enough to get you a salary freeze, so a second year associate that is exceeding expectations can expect to be paid the same as a wet behind the ears first year and a second year associate meeting expectations will be paid less than colleagues that haven’t had the pleasure of prepping their first document. Seyfarth Shaw’s web page says that they pay “competitive salaries”. Who knew that meant competing with each other to avoid being paid less than a first year…

I’m not sure which is more insulting – getting a 2010 pay cut for meeting 2009 expectations, or being told that at the end of 2009.

UPDATE: A tipster reminded me that Seyfarth Shaw has already cut the salaries of the incoming first year associates by five to ten percent, so meeting expectations isn’t going to drop your salary below that of a first year associate after all.  Well, isn’t that a relief.



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