McDermott, Will & Emery has joined Big Law’s latest bandwagon: The 1,000-lawyer firm announced on Tuesday that it will be shifting its associates to a merit-based pay system and will end lockstep advancement based on years served.

A minority of associates will see their pay cut in the process as first-year salaries drop to $145,000 this year, said Jeffrey Stone, chairman of the firm’s management committee. Those associates who started at the firm last year will see the reduction from $160,000 to $145,000 on April 1, while those starting this year came in at that lower level, he said. There will be opportunities to earn more through a bonus, Stone added.

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