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Saturday, September 8, 2007

Locke Liddel Raises Associate Pay in Texas, DC and New Orleans Offices

Texas Lawyer reports that Locke Liddell has given raises to all associates in their Texas, DC and New Orleans offices. Below is the full article from the Texas Lawyer.

All Levels of Locke Liddell Associates Getting Raises
Miriam Rozen
Texas Lawyer
September 7, 2007

All levels of associates at Houston- and Dallas-based Locke Liddell & Sapp may start their holiday shopping early since receiving news that their compensation just rose significantly. First- and second-year associates at the 403-lawyer firm already knew their salaries increased as of Aug 1. But, according to an Aug. 28 memo Locke Liddell managing partner Jerry Clements sent to associates, more-senior associates also are receiving pay increases retroactive to Aug. 1.

Locke Liddell first-year associates in Texas earn a $160,000 base annual salary, and second years earn $170,000. Third-years earn $172,500; fourth-years $175,000; fifth-years $180,000; sixth-years $185,000; seventh-years $190,000; and eighth-years $195,000. The firm has 138 associates in its three Texas offices.

In Washington, D.C., where Locke Liddell has nine associates, the salary scale for first- through third-year associates is the same as Texas associates. But for fourth-years the base salary jumps to $190,000; fifth-years to $205,000; sixth-years to $225,000; seventh-years to $235,000; and eighth years to $240,000.

The firm has increased the salary scale in its New Orleans office as well, which currently employs one associate. First-year associates in New Orleans earn $145,000 in base salary; second-years $155,000; third-years $160,000; fourth-years $165,000; fifth-years $170,000; seventh-years $180,000; and eighth-years $190,000.

In Texas and D.C., third- through eighth-year associates have an opportunity to earn significant amounts in what the memo refers to as "the deferred portion of the compensation" or year-end lump sums. In Texas, that deferred compensation equals between $15,000 and $65,000; and, in Washington, between $15,000 and $40,000. To earn the deferred compensation this year, Clements stressed in the memo, Locke Liddell associates will have to meet a billable-hour target of 2,000 hours annually. Any associate who has worked fewer than 2,000 hours annually will not be eligible for the deferred compensation at the end of the year, Clements wrote.

On top of the deferred compensation, this year the firm will give additional, merit-based bonuses. But the firm may not continue that tradition for long. Clements wrote: "We will continue to evaluate our year-end merit-based bonus program in light of changing market conditions. In view of the increased base and deferred amounts, the lower-tier bonus amounts will likely be eliminated. The midlevel and high-level bonus amounts will likely remain, with the performance targets consisting of 2,200 hours for the midlevel bonus and 2,400 hours for the high-level bonus."

Clements did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment. But Marc Watts, managing partner of Locke Liddell's Houston office, says while the firm wants to offer compensation to attract top talent, it wants to address concerns some associates have about their lifestyles being dominated by such steep billable-hour targets. "We needed to find a way to give associates an alternative," Watts says.

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