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In hopes of increasing its name recognition in the marketplace and jumping ahead of many of its larger competitors, Pittsburgh-based Klett Rooney Lieber & Schorling has decided to raise its first-year associate salaries from $105,000 to $110,000. Klett Rooney’s board of directors made the decision at an April 3 meeting, and the change will be effective retroactive to the start of the firm’s fiscal year March 1. Bill Schorling and Fred D’Angelo, two Philadelphia partners who serve on the board, said a consensus was reached after some initial discussion. The pay hike will be implemented in all of the firm’s offices. In Philadelphia, the raise puts the firm behind Dechert and Morgan Lewis & Bockius, which announced raises in September, to $125,000, and Drinker Biddle & Reath, which announced raises in January, to $115,000. “We felt we needed to be at $110,000 so we could be in the top third of the marketplace,” D’Angelo said. “It’s not an exact science or anything, and we really did discuss the positive and the negative of doing it before our president [Jack Barbour] went ahead with it. “On one hand, some people asked whether it was necessary to do this when so many of our competitors are laying people off. But our bankruptcy people said that they needed to do this to attract the top talent. We all came to the conclusion that this will re-enforce to law school graduates that while we might not be as big, we are economically stronger than larger firms.” D’Angelo said it was important to implement the change firmwide, though he noted that Klett Rooney does not have associates in its Washington, D.C., and Trenton offices. “We understand that Pittsburgh is different from Harrisburg, and Philadelphia is different from Wilmington,” D’Angelo said. “But the internal problems that would be created [by offering different starting salaries in the firm's various offices] would outweigh any possible benefits.” The Pittsburgh-based firm has 80 associates, 18 of which are in Philadelphia. Schorling said associates in their second year or higher would also have their salaries “adjusted accordingly.” “I think this will indicate that we are a player with top law students because it shows that we are financially sound enough to handle making such a change,” Schorling said. “We’ve always been near the top, and we wanted to continue to be at that level.” Klett Rooney came to Philadelphia in January 1995 with only four lawyers, but in 1997 it was able to lure a 21-attorney labor and employment group from Pepper Hamilton and that has been the center of the office ever since. Now with roughly 45 lawyers in Philadelphia, the office focuses primarily on labor and employment, litigation and bankruptcy. Schorling, though, said the firm would like to add corporate and real estate practices to round out the range of services offered in Philadelphia. “We don’t ever grow for growth’s sake,” Schorling said. “We don’t have a target, but we have been the fastest growing firm in the state. Traditionally, we’ve tried to strengthen our strengths. We have a strong corporate presence in Wilmington and Pittsburgh, and we want to extend that to Philadelphia.” In June 2000, Klett Rooney opened its Wilmington office by taking six attorneys from Duane Morris. The office has more than doubled in size since that time and has a strong bankruptcy group at its core.

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