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Tired of losing associates to Internet start-ups, Silicon Alley firms have started offering associates a piece of the venture capital action to retain them. In July, Cooley Godward announced that it is setting aside 10 percent of its venture funds for associates, giving them a stake (at no cost) in the firm’s investments in start-ups. The 10 percent stake will be allocated among associates based on seniority. Last year, Brobeck Phleger & Harrison started investing $2,500 per associate annually in its venture fund, at no cost to the associate. The investment vests over five years; one company in last year’s fund returned 150 times the firm’s investment after it went public. Chairman Tower Snow claims that such benefits have cut Brobeck’s attrition to less than half the industry standard of about 25 percent. Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati’s venture fund is limited to more senior associates: after the associate has been out of law school four years and with the firm two years, Wilson will invest several thousand a year on his or her behalf.

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