Due to the “current economic environment,” Dallas firm Gardere Wynne Sewell cut base salaries for its first- and second-year associates and will delay the start date for incoming associates until January 2010. The salary cuts are effective May 1. Managing partner Stephen Good declines comment, but he says in a written statement that the changes are “necessary to bring some economic rationality back to our associate compensation program.” First-year salaries are reduced from a $160,000 base to $145,000, and second-year base salaries are now $150,000, according to a written statement from Good. Good said in the statement that many clients of the firm and other firms have been “upset” at the salary levels for new associates and have asked firms to refrain from using first-year or second-year associates on their matters. “That reaction is not healthy for the law firm, the client or the associate and the associate’s future development,” Good writes in the statement. Good notes that young associates in Texas, where there is no state income tax, make the same $160,000 base salary as associates in New York City and $20,000 more than associates in Atlanta, where the cost of living is similar to Texas’. The statement does not say how many first-year or second-year associates work at Gardere or how many new associates will start work at the firm in January. The incoming associates will receive a $10,000 stipend because of the start-date deferral. In March, Gardere announced that it had laid off an unspecified number of associates and staff due to the economic downturn.
-- Brenda Sapino Jeffreys