"Hard" legal skills, "soft" practice management, and rainmaking skills are developed at different rates in different individuals. The firm's associate compensation system recognizes these differences and encourages the development of well-rounded professionals.
In general, associates' salaries are lockstep by class year for the first three years of practice. During these years, attorneys are expected to focus primarily on developing their legal skills, although they are encouraged to take the initial steps toward identifying those community activities and networking forums with which they'd like to become involved. After three years of practice, compensation is set based upon an associate's work quality, productivity, teamwork, business development efforts and firm management activities. We pay our associates competitive salaries to recognize and reward them for their efforts.
Additionally, after the first full year of practice, an associate is eligible for a merit bonus. Bonuses are awarded for exceeding the expectations set for the associate, and we look at the same "skills + activities" factors used to set the associate's base salary. The amount of our bonuses varies greatly, but typically fall within the range of 2% - 10%.