More Salary News, More Associate Grumbling

The most popular e-mail forward this week among associates at top Los Angeles firms? Salary complaints.

One memo that was making its way through terminals across the city calls on the partners of Latham & Watkins, O’Melveny & Myers and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher to match the $145,000 starting salary and $20,000 increases that some New York firms have adopted.

“My office is usually the last to hear about things like this, but this memo got around the office pretty quickly,? writes one associate in an anonymous e-mail to The Recorder. “Considering the mileage these ‘Memos to Partners’ are already getting in the L.A. law firm community, a certain sense of bitterness and disdain is bound to follow if the ‘Big 3’ doesn’t up the ante fairly soon.?

Another “open memo? posted on message boards hit the e-mail circuit last week. It highlights increasing law school debt, high salaries for counterparts in investment banking, and soaring profit-per-partner numbers.

“In short, when you give $5,000 raised to all but first-years and fail to match modest $20,000 raises (which I believe I have shown are inadequate), you decrease moral [sic] and make me (and many others) want to leave a job that has been at least tolerable and at most satisfying,? according to the memo, signed “anonymous.?

Salaries were also a hot topic at an alumni event for Ivy League schools held in Hollywood this week. When one second-year law school student learned of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges jump to 145K, word spread around the swanky bar faster than a fresh bowl of pretzels.

Explained one unknown law student as she sipped her coconut mojito: “Why not go with the firm that’s adding $10,000 more? Are they really that different??

— Kellie Schmitt


One Response to “More Salary News, More Associate Grumbling”

  1. Rebecca Freie Says:

    Well, I am sure that no one will read this comment, but I am appalled! I consider myself to be a good lawyer. I have never made more that $100,000 in one year. I went to a nonpretigious law school at night, while working full time, and paid my way as I went. My law school got California State Bar accreditation because 80% of my class passed the California State Bare exam right after graduation. I have practiced for 30 years, and currently work for the State of California.

    After practicing for many years as an attorney in private practice, I spent nearly 10 years of my life representing abused children in juvenile dependency court. Before that I spent 2 years representing Childrens Protective Services for a county. I am quite sure that attorneys who have graduated from “better” colleges and law schools will say I am a good lawyer. There seems to be an attitude in our profession that one’s perceived ability is based on where one went to law school. Based on my experience, this is not true.

    The beginning salaries of $145,000 suggested in this article are one of the reasons the legal profession has fallen into such disregard among most “regular” people. I understand that many law school graduates have massive debt that they have incurred for their legal education, and working for high paying law firms enables them to pay off this debt.

    I suggest that we, as a profession, start lobbying our legislative bodies, state and federal, to implement programs that would pay off these students’ law school debts if they become employed by qualified nonprofit law firms, or government. While some graduates may choose to be employed by the high-paying prestigious law firms, others may be able to follow their hearts, and provide their talents to help those who are unable to pay the “going” rate for legal representation. This would certainly raise the credibility of our profession.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: