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December 4, 2009 3:10 PM

Orrick: No Bonuses for First-Year Associates

Posted by Matt Straquadine

In Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe's announcement of its new pay model for associates, the biggest news is the firm will not reduce starting salaries for first-year associates in major markets such as New York, D.C., San Francisco, Los Angeles, Silicon Valley, and Orange County.

That means a first-year associate at Orrick still has a chance to earn a base salary of $160,000 a year, Am Law sibling publication The Recorder reports, while plenty of other firms have dropped starting pay in major markets.

But the firm is changing the way it awards bonuses. Starting next year, first-year associates will not be eligible for year-end bonuses. They will only qualify for bonuses when they reach the next salary level, which will be determined by their performance rather than the lockstep model. For more on Orrickā€™s new (and rather complicated) associate pay model, check out the internal firm graphic that Above the Law got its hands on.

The economy has forced many firms to reexamine the way lawyers are paid. Both Reed Smith and Drinker Biddle have recently scraped lockstep for merit systems. As we reported Thursday, DLA Piper is discussing reforming its pay model at the partner level.

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