Am Law 50 Firm teased an ‘update’ on submarket salaries. Update is: ‘We are staying below the market.’

When the Biglaw market moved to the $215,000 scale in January, it seemed only a matter of time before every major company adopted that scale. Most moved in the first month after Milbank’s announcement. It was an almost existential decision for companies staring at a red-hot side market bursting at the seams with new customers. If the company couldn’t keep up with the battle for talent, it could be lost.

Troutman Pepper didn’t join the $215,000 party in January. That was not surprising, because the company is constantly dragging its feet on compensation, although it usually gets there in the end. But this time it did not move all year. In May, the company held its employee retreat and announced that it would provide an update on the salary situation “soon”. According to insiders, the company followed suit with silence, despite employees asking for an update on salaries at every Associate Development Committee meeting since May’s comments.

But they finally got their answer this week… no raises.

Troutman Pepper ranks 47th on the Am Law 100 with earnings per partner equity of $1,386,000 at last accounting. And yet the company has avoided raises, JUST IN TIME FOR THE HOLIDAYS! While there’s always a chance that some ghosts might visit the partners on Christmas Eve, it’s more likely that employees will simply have to find another way to cover Tiny Tim’s operation.

While it’s a bitter pill to swallow after months of being teased with an update, it somehow gets worse. According to multiple tipsters, the partnership didn’t even bother to make a company-wide announcement of its decision to market employees, opting instead to let the Associate Development Committee break the news, “to a few select associate liaisons … which the associate liaisons then communicated to their constituents.”

Partners were very quick to throw the whole company into trouble when they tried to get everyone back to the office in mid-2021, but when it comes to keeping employees stiff after stringing them along all year, that news delegated to liaisons. Employees worked hard and averted lateral opportunities in the belief that the grass was only temporarily greener on the other side. The company reaped the benefits all year round and the employees stare longingly at the fence.

Troutman Pepper may have excuses – and they may even be “good” excuses – but the company can only be judged by the communication the employees actually get. And that was sorely lacking here.

Perhaps the company had a bad year and was unable to cover a salary increase it had hoped to deliver? It happens! We won’t really know until this year’s Am Law numbers are reported. But even if earnings are down, this announcement is a management bust. Leadership needs to be ahead of this kind of news with transparency and accountability.

And if profits really went up… well, there will be a lot questions from employees.

earlier: Biglaw Firm finally joins the $205,000 party
Troutman Pepper Announces Major Compensation Changes
Biglaw partner begs employees to come to office

Head shotJoe Patrice is editor-in-chief at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to send an e-mail with tips, questions or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe is also a Managing Director at RPN Executive Search.

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