Arnold & Porter’s Not-So-Greedy Associates

An associate in Arnold & Porter's Washington D.C. office was watching a CNN program on Darfur when he learned of his salary raise. "The contrast between getting all this money and the people who needed it was jarring," Joshua Kaplan said.

So Kaplan, a second-year, is asking fellow associates at A&P to give back a portion of their 2006 raises, which ranged from $5,000 to $10,000, depending on their class. He talked to a partner in charge of the firm's pro bono efforts, and came up with the Web site www.givealittle2006.org

The site asks associates to give back a portion of the money with the goal of raising $250,000. The featured organizations include Doctors Without Borders, American Red Cross, Care, and the Clinton Foundation. Since the effort launched about two weeks ago, they have received about $10,000.

The associates are also hoping to entice donations with something any co-worker could support: a party.

The New York office is holding an event tonight (Thursday) in which the $10 cover charge goes to the charities. In Los Angeles, a similar function will be held May 18 at a swanky downtown bar.

Los Angeles associate Courtney Stuart Alban, who is spearheading the West Coast effort, said she’s hoping for a couple hundred in attendance, especially with the new L.A. locale as the venue. "There’s a dearth of places to go out downtown, so there’s a longing for some kind of place for younger associates to go and meet people," she said. Along with the $10 entrance fee, Alban is optimistic people will go on the Web site and contribute more, perhaps even a day’s salary, she said.

"I think it would not be a big deal to give $500. I frankly don’t think most of us would notice," she said. "I think most of us realize that we’re well paid, we just got a raise, and you feel this contrast with what’s going on in the world and even with our friends — like artists — who work hard and don’t receive the same remuneration."

The Arnold & Porter crew is already in talks to expand the effort, though the details are still as hushed as a pending transaction: "We’re in talks with another firm to have them officially partner up," Kaplan said.

Kaplan said message boards such as Greedy Associates in which young lawyers gripe about wanting more compensation are self-selecting sites and not at all representative of the overall associate mindsets: "Most of the people I know were pleasantly surprised when they got the raises."

— Kellie Schmitt

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