Am Law 50 Firm Teased An ‘Update’ On Sub-Market Salaries. Update Is: ‘We’re Staying Below Market.’

When the Biglaw market moved to the $215K scale in January, it seemed only a matter of time before every major firm adopted that scale. Most moved in the first month of Milbank’s announcement. It was an almost existential decision for firms staring at a white-hot lateral market and bursting at the seams with new business. If the firm couldn’t keep up in the talent fight, it could be lost.

Troutman Pepper did not join the $215K party in January. That wasn’t too surprising because the firm persistently drags its feet on compensation though it usually gets there eventually. But this time, it didn’t move all year. In May, the firm held its associate retreat and announced that an update on the salary situation would come “shortly.” According to tipsters, the firm followed with silence despite associates requesting an update on salaries at every meeting of the Associate Development Committee since the remarks in May.

But they finally got their answer this week… no raises.

Troutman Pepper sits at 47th on the Am Law 100 with profits per equity partner at $1,386,000 at last accounting. And yet, the firm has eschewed raises JUST IN TIME FOR THE HOLIDAYS! While there’s always a chance that some ghosts can visit the partners on Christmas Eve, it’s more likely that associates are just going to have to find some other way to cover Tiny Tim’s surgery.

While a bitter pill to swallow after being teased with an update for months, somehow it gets worse. According to multiple tipsters, the partnership didn’t even bother to issue a firm-wide announcement of the decision to keep associates below market, opting instead to have the Associate Development Committee deliver the news, “to a few select associate liaisons… which the associate liaisons then communicated to their constituents.”

Partners were very quick to put the whole firm on blast when trying to get everyone back to the office in mid-2021, but when it comes to stiffing associates after stringing them along all year, that news gets delegated to liaisons. Associates put in hard work and staved off lateral opportunities believing that the grass on the other side was only temporarily greener. The firm reaped the benefits all year and the associates are left staring longingly at the fence.

Troutman Pepper may have excuses — and they might even be “good” excuses — but the firm can only be judged by the communication the associates actually get. And it was sorely lacking here.

Perhaps the firm had a bad year and found itself unable to cover a salary boost it had hoped to deliver? It happens! We won’t really know until this year’s Am Law numbers are reported out. But even if profits are down, this announcement is a management failure. Leadership needs to get ahead of news like this with transparency and accountability.

And if profits were actually up… well, there will be a lot of questions from the associates.

earlier: Biglaw Firm Finally Joins The $205K Party
Troutman Pepper Announces Big Compensation Changes
Biglaw Partner Takes To Begging Associates To Come To The Office


head shotJoe Patrice is a senior editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email any tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe also serves as a Managing Director at RPN Executive Search.

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