Monday, October 22, 2007

More Money or Less Work?

We posted here and here about surveys that paint a less than rosy picture of life as an attorney.  No doubt a "work/life" imbalance is at the core of much of the dissatisfaction expressed in the surveys.  As you know, associate salaries are on the rise again, but not all associates are happy about it.  Some first-year associates in New York now bring down $250,000 annually, and starting associate salaries at the larger law firms in cities like Chicago and Houston have jumped to $160,000 or even $170,000.  It's easy to understand why partners think of the associate pay hike as a necessary evil at best, but even some associates aren't happy with the pay increases because they know that with an increase in pay comes an increase in billable hour requirements.   

In this piece, the ABA Journal reports that a handful of law firms are creating two tiers of associates in response to associates' differing views on the issue of increase pay for increased work.  In one tier are those associates willing to work more for the increased pay and in the other are those who would sacrifice the pay increase for a lower billable hour requirement.  Many associates will be electing to work less and earn less if the ABA Journal's February 2007 survey, "The Time-Money Trade-Off," is accurate.  According to the survey, 84.2% of the nearly 2400 associates surveyed said they would be willing to earn less if it meant they could also bill less.--Counseller

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