With Biglaw firm after Biglaw firm announcing raises, re-raises, and second re-raises since January, we always suspected there would come a time when a firm would find a way to “match” the prevailing salary scale without really matching, at least not for all associates. To that end, we recently discovered that a leading firm is matching the Cravath compensation scale, but only for associates who are willing to bill, baby, bill.
Please note the UPDATE below.
Earlier this week, Fish & Richardson, a firm ranked at #87 in the most recent Am Law 100, announced that it would be raising salaries for associates — but with one little catch that could be worth thousands of dollars (or more).
If associates at Fish want to earn Cravath-level salaries, they’ll need to move to a 2000-hour annual billable target. The firm’s current yearly minimum is 1900 hours. Associates must select their hours target track by March 28.
This is what the new salary scale looks like at the firm:
Because the firm took a little while to come up with this new compensation plan, the 2000-hour target is being prorated to 1975 hours this year.
Associates who do not boost their hours will remain on the old salary scale. However, even if associates select the lower hours track and somehow wind up hitting 2000 hours, the firm will true-up their salaries.
UPDATE: Here’s some additional information that we received from a source:
On an associate-wide call, it was explained to us that F&R was also raising the salary for those who continue on the 1900 billing track. The salary will be prorated from the 2000 hr/Cravath scale. So, for example, if an A7 stays on the 1900 hr track, they will make 95% (1900/2000) of the Cravath scale, i.e., $380K, which amounts to a raise of $30K. Also, F&R will not only true-up you at the end of the year if you’re on the 1900 hr track and end up billing 2000 hr, but they will true-up for each hour billed over 1900. So, for example, if an A7 on the 1900 hr track bills 1950, they will get a true-up that is halfway between the 1900 hr and 2000 hr/Cravath scale.
If we’re looking at this through a work-life balance lens, Fish is being quite considerate by allowing associates to choose their annual hours target. If we take off those rose-colored glasses, we’re forced to look at this with a raised brow, because dozens of other firms have raised their salaries without simultaneously raising associates’ billable hours requirements.
Fish associates will see their raises reflected in their first April paychecks, retroactive to January 1. Congratulations to all associates at the firm who are willing to work more to get more money.
(Flip to the next page to see the full memo from Fish & Richardson.)
Remember everyone, we depend on your tips to stay on top of this stuff. So when your firm matches, please text us (646-820-8477) or email us (subject line: “[Firm Name] Matches Cravath”). Please include the memo if available. You can take a photo of the memo and send it via text or email if you don’t want to forward the original PDF or Word file.
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Staci Zaretsky is a senior editor at Above the Law, where she’s worked since 2011. She’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to email her with any tips, questions, comments, or critiques. You can follow her on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.
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