It wasn’t long ago that we wondered why more Biglaw firms hadn’t announced raises yet. Milbank introduced its new salary scale more than two weeks ago, and while quite a few firms have matched, the bulk of Biglaw management committees seem to be sitting on their hands, leaving associates squirming. As the majority of firms continue to monitor the market to see where compensation is headed, this top 10 Biglaw firm has committed to a match — but not yet, and the salary scale the firm is matching isn’t yet clear.
On Friday afternoon, Morgan Lewis — a firm that brought in $2,446,000,000 gross revenue in 2020, ranking it at No. 7 in the most recent Am Law 100 — announced a match. Kind of. Sort of.
In a firmwide voicemail, associates were notified that while Morgan Lewis remains committed to providing top compensation, the firm’s “preference and practice is always to make changes in a calm, deliberative, and generous manner, rather than in a reflexive and reactionary way.” As such, the firm will award associates with salaries in line with whatever the prevailing market rate is on March 31, 2022, in their first April paycheck. Any backpay that is owed to associates will be made up with a “bonus” at that time.
Yes, you read that correctly. April. Morgan Lewis is waiting until April to officially make a match because firm leadership isn’t sure how these raises will shake out and they’re waiting for the market to settle.
Reactions from associates have been mixed. While some are happy that a raise is coming down the line in the future, others are downright disappointed that they have to wait until April, and even more are confused about why their delayed salary true-ups are being referred to as a “bonus.”
Will this move by Morgan Lewis encourage either Davis Polk or Cravath to make a move on salaries? Perhaps, but probably not. In the meantime, associates at MLB are left to wonder how exactly they’ll be compensated come April. It stinks that you have to wait, but pre-congratulations, everyone.
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”). 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.