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After more than a year of examining its associate advancement and compensation model and seeing other firms move to a competency-based advancement model, Morgan Lewis & Bockius has decided to stick with its lockstep system of increasing base salary with each year of experience. The decision, first reported by legal blog “Above the Law,” was announced to the associates by Chairman Francis Milone in a video conference earlier this week. In mid-2009, the firm said it would look into moving to a merit-based advancement model, but as it turns out, the firm decided not to fix what it didn’t see as broken. Morgan Lewis will continue to increase base salary for each class year in lockstep fashion and will also maintain its bonus pool, which has always operated as a merit-based system and will continue to do so. Milone also told associates the firm would be implementing a new tier of associates, according to a statement from one of the firm’s management committee members. “First, we have decided not to make any dramatic changes to our evaluation and attorney development system. Rather, we will make some improvements to the system we currently have in place, such as enhanced training,” managing partner for personnel Charles Engros Jr. said in a statement. “Second, our chair confirmed that associates meeting the firm’s expectations will receive base salaries in 2011 equal to the prevailing market level for their class year. In addition, the firm confirmed it will pay discretionary, incentive bonuses. Third, the firm will now have alternatives to the traditional partnership track for associates–including a ‘career track’.” Morgan Lewis hasn’t yet told associates what the career track entails.

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