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Retaining its traditional lock-step base pay for associates, San Francisco-based Morrison & Foerster informed associates last week that they would receive full step pay increases for 2002. The pay at each salary level remains the same as it has for the past two years. Thus, first-year associates will continue to receive $125,000 base pay. MoFo also retains its two-tiered compensation structure for second- through seventh-year associates in which associates billing 1,950 hours are paid a higher rate than those billing under 1,950 hours. Fourth-year associates billing at least 1,950 hours will receive a base salary of $165,000 and those billing under 1,950 hours will receive $145,000. MoFo had told associates in April that it was going to revise its compensation structure in 2002 and replace the lock-step system with a range of salaries for each class based on merit. “We did not go to a purely merit model that we talked about shifting to,” MoFo Chairman Keith Wetmore said. Rather than using an entirely subjective compensation model, he said the firm is using an objective, hours-based model. The firm also implemented merit bonuses this year, which are based on factors besides the number of hours billed. Wetmore said some bonus recipients fell below 1,850 billable hours, such as attorneys in practice groups with low hours that were “willing to relocate to another office, practice group or department to help out.” MoFo’s salary boosts are in line with Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, which also gave its associates lock-step salary increases. By comparison, Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison; Cooley Godward; and Gray Cary Ware & Freidenrich froze associate pay, deciding not to advance associates to their next lock-step salary level. Cooley did give a modest raise to second-year associates. And Pillsbury Winthrop froze first- and second-year associate salaries but gave pay raises to third-, fourth- and fifth-year associates, though at a reduced level than the firm’s existing lock-step structure.

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