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Do We Pay Partners Less Than Associates? Dewey Does

Even as associate layoffs at top law firms have become a near-daily occurrence, most partners have avoided the fate of their underlings. But how much longer can partners insulate themselves from the impacts of the economic downturn? Not much longer -- at least for partners at Dewey & LeBoeuf. Today, The American Lawyer reports that over the past 15 months, Dewey has cut compensation for 66 partners -- roughly 20 percent of the firm's 350 partners -- by as much as 80 percent. From the article:

Of the 66, the more fortunate are now taking home $25,000/month, the standard draw for partners. Lower-tier partners have faced more drastic reductions, with monthly draws of as little as $10,000, or an annual total of $120,000 -- $40,000 less than the starting salary for a 2008 incoming first-year.

According to Dewey, the cuts are part of the firm's long-term strategy of "replacing poor performers with higher-producing laterals."

Still, the partners are better off than the few dozen associates who've lost their jobs, either due to the firm's financial problems or performance-based culling. Dewey does not plan to force the partners out, and many have stayed on even after learning of changes in compensation.

That the partners have stayed on is no surprise. At the end of the day, earning $120,000 a year sure beats earning nothing at all.

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on March 16, 2009 at 03:59 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)


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