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FROM THE JOB FRONT

FROM THE JOB FRONT is EmplawyerNet's monthly newsletter covering the latest developments in the area of legal employment -- and a few other things. FROM THE JOB FRONT is published as a service of EmplawyerNet, the online interactive legal employment network.

MAY 2001

NEWS FROM THE JOB FRONT

Lockstep May Be Stepping Out

Survey Measures Legal Staff Happiness

New Jersey Lawyers Try Telepracticing

US Attorneys Seek Overtime Pay

OTHER FEATURES

Legal Trivia

Quote, UnQuote

Must Read

One More Thing Before You Go


LOCKSTEP MAY BE STEPPING OUT

It used to be that almost all law firm associates automatically stepped up on an annual basis to the next year of law firm seniority - and the next-year pay scale. Compensation distinctions between associates based on performance were made through the awarding of bonuses. Now, however, many large law firms are reexamining lockstep associate pay. The idea is that instead of automatically moving associates to the next level each year, they will be put on two or more different tracks based on their performance. Different salaries will be paid depending on which track the associate is placed. Some associates report liking the idea - and not just those on the higher-paying track. They note that the tracking system provides an indicator of how they are performing along the way instead of having to wait until the time they are up for partnership consideration. Also thrown into the mix is adjusting salaries based on where the associates are living and working. In other words, offices of the same firm located in different cities will set salaries based on the cost of living in those locations.

Fulton County Daily Report

SURVEY MEASURES LEGAL STAFF HAPPINESS

According to a recent study, about half of paralegals, legal secretaries and other legal staffers feel underpaid. On the positive side, these same individuals generally find their work interesting and value the flexibility their careers provide. The study results, which included 255 respondents at law firms, businesses and corporations located in Georgia, found that half believe they are fairly compensated while 47 said they were under compensated. Among the biggest career concerns expressed in the survey were dwindling benefits, poor chances for advancement, and increased workloads. Many pointed to high associate salaries as a sore spot and made the point that while lawyer salaries seem to have no limits, paralegals and legal secretaries feel they often hit a salary wall. In recent years, staff salary increases have typically come in at between four and six percent a year while associates have enjoyed double digit increases.

Los Angeles Daily Journal

NEW JERSEY LAWYERS TRY TELEPRACTICING

Seeking ways to compete against New York and Philadelphia firms for legal talent, some New Jersey firms are allowing lawyers to telecommute. As part of a their pitch of offering lawyers better quality of life, a Newark firm gives a $3,000 technology bonus to associates who set up a home office. The money can be applied toward purchase of personal computers and facilitating fast connections to the firm and its databases. Associates report using the technology to work at home instead of coming to office on weekends or on days when the weather makes commuting difficult. The firm reports that two-thirds of all its associates have taken the bonus. Said a partner from the firm: "We expect them to get their work done, and we don't care if they do it at two in the morning or two in the afternoon."

New Jersey Lawyer

US ATTORNEYS SEEK OVERTIME PAY

Telecommuting probably isn't an option for lawyers working at the US Justice Department. These same attorneys may, however, soon be receiving overtime pay. A coalition of Washington DC-area Members of Congress have sent a letter to Attorney General John Ashcroft asking that the Justice Department begin giving its lawyers overtime pay. Lawyers at other federal government agencies already receive overtime compensation. Three years ago, the Justice Department was sued for back wages by its own lawyers. In response, the department had language put in the federal budget that specifically prohibits overtime pay for its lawyers. Over nine thousand lawyers would benefit from the change in policy.

The Recorder

LEGAL TRIVIA

What is the average debt of law school graduates?
  
(a)$20,000
(b)$50,000
(c)$75,000
(d)$90,000

(Answer at the end of the newsletter)

QUOTE

"There's no question there's been a slowdown in the Valley - there's been a huge slowdown."

    --Partner at Silicon Valley's Venture Law Group

UNQUOTE

MUST READ

Full Disclosure: The New Lawyer's Must-Read Career Guide
by Christen Civiletto Carey

Covering the often-frustrating process of researching and securing a law firm job and how to succeed once a job is secured, a new mentoring guide helps lawyers at the beginning stages of their careers. The book embodies a collective wisdom about the things lawyers wished they knew at the beginning of their careers, rather than the end.

Find it at the EmplawyerNet bookstore. http://www.emplawyernet.com/bookstore.cfm

ONE MORE THING BEFORE YOU GO...

Penthouse has been sued for $500,000 by a prison inmate who claims he was "very mentally hurt and angered" when the magazine's pictorial spread of Paula Jones failed to be as revealing as he anticipated.

  • Trivia Answer:

      (c) $75,000


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