Pillsbury And Foley & Lardner Too Skittish To Get Rid Of Lockstep Entirely

chicken run

Most biglaw firms are sticking to lockstep despite the arguments for merit-based compensation.

Over at Foley & Lardner, things have become overly complicated. Above The Law snagged the full, long-winded memo, from which breakdown seems to be:

  • Tier I, for associates within three to four years of law school graduation, has a lockstepped system with associates in New York earning a starting salary of $160,000 and those outside starting at $145,000.
  • Tier II associates, or those with at least three years of practice, will not have a lockstep system, but rather will be paid one of six different amounts based on evaluation.
  • And third tier associates, those up for partner, will be paid using “standard” guidelines based on performance and experience.

Of course, the memo included a nice clause describing that the new system is only for this year and the firm will reevaluate at the end of the fiscal year.

At Pillsbury, also according to ATL, they’ve indicated a desire to crawl away from lockstep, but are offering lockstep raises in the meantime, which will equate to true-up raises for associates in NYC who meet their hours and a salary downgrade for those outside of the city.

So the number-crunchers at biglaw are still infatuated with paying people based on experience levels, even though the recession caused many of these firms to threaten merit-based pay, which will theoretically save money and encourage a rigorous work ethic.

Maybe we should take this as good news. Firms expect this year will be better than last, so why change, right?

See ATL’s coverage, with memos: Foley & Lardner: New Salary Structure Leaves More Questions Than Answers and Pillsbury: Raises, Bonuses, and Other Sundries

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