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Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton managing partner Mark Walker is old-school when it comes to partner compensation. He sees no reason to change Cleary’s seniority-based lockstep scheme, in which the spread between the highest- and lowest-paid partner is less than 3:1. It’s a no-hassle system — no long meetings explaining bonus decisions and no disputes among partners over credit for bringing in business. And it is the foundation of Cleary’s culture, Walker says, which emphasizes the collective over the individual. If the firm is not a magnet for hot lateral candidates who want to be paid like A-Rod, that’s OK with Walker. “My view is that if someone says I’m not going to Cleary Gottlieb because [another firm] is guaranteeing me a salary of X, then they don’t belong at our firm anyway,” he says.

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