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When Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe’s New York competitors gave its associates year-end bonuses, the San Francisco firm with a growing East Coast presence responded West Coast style. The firm, which for the first time in 2000 had more attorneys in its New York office than in its San Francisco headquarters, gave out additional bonuses at the end of the year to help keep its New York lawyers happy. Firm Chairman Ralph Baxter says the bonus helps the firm strike a balance between the different regional salary expectations of East Coast associates, who are accustomed to year-end bonuses, and West Coast associates, who tend to prefer participation in investment funds and a more structured salary package. “The New York firms don’t offer structural bonuses and investment plans,” Baxter says. “And the San Francisco firms don’t tend to announce big bonuses at the end of the year. “It’s the best of both worlds and, culturally, it’s the optimal blend of both markets. I think we are in an unusual position.” Orrick decided that associates at all offices should get in on the New York-driven action: a $5,000 year-end bonus for reaching the minimum billable hours of 1,950 and $10,000 for hitting 2,100 hours. At Orrick, associates can earn four different bonuses: discretionary bonuses tied to performance; hours-based bonuses; investment pool money and, now, a year-end bonus based on how the firm does. First-year associates can make up to $178,000 and fourth years can get $233,000. “We wanted the associates to feel they were compensated at the top of the market,” Baxter says. “We were trying to add more bonus, consistent with the New York market.” To be sure, Orrick is seeing a West-to-East shift. Its New York office numbers 183 attorneys, including 67 partners, compared to 152 attorneys, with 68 partners, in San Francisco. Overall, though, attorneys in the Los Angeles, Sacramento, Calif., San Francisco, Seattle and Silicon Valley offices outnumber Orrick’s East Coast offices in Washington, D.C., and New York City 320 to 218. Associates say they like the changes to the compensation package and that it rewards consistent, good work and not overwork and over billing. For starters, associates will get a bigger bonus for reaching 2,250 hours than for reaching 2,400 hours. Also, the firm didn’t jump into the latest salary fracas started by Brobeck when it jumped base salary from $125,000 to $135,000 in January. Instead, Orrick associates can earn $10,000 more if they reach 1,950 hours. One fifth-year associate at Orrick’s Menlo Park, Calif., office said, “We all feel very happy, very well compensated and very well looked after.” She said the unexpected year-end bonus at the end of 2000 made her happy, but she acknowledged that it was possible the firm felt that it needed to add another bonus because money from the new investment fund has so far been negligible. Mark Pitchford, managing partner at Cooley Godward’s Palo Alto, Calif., office, says it appears Orrick is doing what it has to do to stay competitive in dual markets. Pitchford, whose firm offers discretionary bonuses and an investment pool, noted that firms are typically conservative when making adjustments to compensation packages. Having recruited attorneys based on one type of compensation package, they are hesitant to make radical changes. “It is all about what works within the fabric and culture of the firm,” he says. Paula Patton, executive director of the National Law Placement Center in Washington, D.C., says Orrick’s move is the latest example of a growing trend. “What you are starting to see are a lot of different hybrids,” Patton says. “They are trying to include a lot of different packages.”

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