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Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati associates won’t get credit anymore for the new business they bag for the firm. The Palo Alto, Calif.-based firm circulated a memo last month to associates outlining the reversal of its long-standing policy of letting associates take credit for new clients. The firm also will no longer let associates open new matters or bill clients, moving those responsibilities to partners. The decision regarding so-called “origination credit” is a big change for Wilson Sonsini. Wilson Sonsini partners and associates said eliminating origination credits for associates is part of the firm’s attempt to shift away from an “eat-what-you-kill” model that encourages lawyers to work only on their own clients. The model has created tension between partners who service long-standing clients and those who got credit for bringing them to the firm. Some Wilson Sonsini associates, especially senior associates who amassed big books of business during the boom, see the sudden change as a disincentive for helping build the firm’s client base. “We’re not getting paid for [new business] and now, we’re not even getting credit,” said one senior associate. Other associates, however, were more blas�. Said one fourth-year, “I’m sure it will affect me, but I’m not sure how since I haven’t brought in any new clients.” “It makes more sense,” said another fourth-year associate. “[Credit] goes to who really is servicing the clients.” Under its origination credit model, the firm linked each client with the lawyer responsible for bringing it to the firm — no matter how long ago the first meeting took place or which lawyer currently does most of the client’s work. Changes to the firm’s compensation policies aren’t limited to associates, however. Wilson Sonsini is currently examining its partner compensation scheme and wants a separate pay plan for associates that didn’t include partner measures like book-building, said Steven Bochner, the Wilson partner who heads the firm’s compensation committee. “Associates under our system are encouraged to bring in new clients and start new matters — we’re not trying to chill that,” Bochner said. “It’s an administrative change to make sure there’s a partner involved in overseeing what associates are doing.” Bochner added that origination wasn’t used in deciding who should become a partner in the firm, nor were associates paid extra for originating work. Wilson Sonsini is one of the few Silicon Valley firms that used the origination credit model. Cooley Godward, for example, doesn’t factor in who bagged particular clients when deciding bonuses for partners or associates. “You can’t just reward the people who source the business,” said partner Mark Pitchford, Cooley’s chief operating officer.

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