US firms set more lawyers on the non-partnership track

An interesting article here about the creation of two-tier associate system in some of the biggest law firms in the US. These second tier associates do the same kind of work done by regular associates, but they earn less than half as much, and they are off the partnership track from the start. The system has its virtues – second tier associates (called ‘career associates’ or ‘permanent associates’) work less hours and travel less than those on the partnership track, and the arrangement probably prevents even greater offshoring of jobs. But there are downsides too: for one, the disparity in compensation and opportunity between associates may breed resentment among colleagues. Firms such as Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, WilmerHale and McDermott Will & Emery are just some of the firms that have introduced a two-tiered associate system as a way of satisfying client demand for reduced billing rates.

US firms set more lawyers on the non-partnership track Tue, May 24, 2011