BigLaw Economics

Two posts from the Wall Street Journal Law Blog:

  • Wal-Mart Memo to Law Firms: No More Rate Hikes! Drawing a line over regular increases in hourly billing rates that it believes are linked to increases in associate salaries (now $160,000 for dewy-eyed law school grads) Wal-Mart notified outside counsel ““[w]e are today announcing a moratorium on across-the-board rate increases. Until further notice, we will only consider reasonable, individual requests for rate increases for those attorneys in your firm who are performing at an exceptional level and whose experience and knowledge is adding substantial value towards meeting Wal-Mart’s legal objectives.” Next week Wal-Mart will receive a raft letters from outside counsel telling it that all BigLaw lawyers perform at an exceptional level and add substantial value, just by walking into a room.
  • Except when they aren’t. McDermott to Create a New Class of BigLaw Attorneys reports that McDermott, Will & Emery “plans to create a new tier of full-time non-partnership-track attorneys to handle lower-end tasks at lower billing rates . . . first-years now earn $160,000, but some of their work, like electronic discovery, can be done by, well, someone not worth that much money.” McDermott has not announced this the salaries for this new class, how much they will be paid, or what they will be called. The Journal’s Law Blog invited readers to submit names. Responses include “serfs,” “plebeians,” and “pond scum.” Others note that firms already have non-partnership-track positions with different annual billing expectations and advancement opportunities; they are called staff attorneys. I also suggested some names: Lawyers with a life? Parents? Passersby at the rat race? See Legal Blog Watch for more about how staff attorney positions are desirable for those seeking a work/life balance.

4 thoughts on “BigLaw Economics”

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