Mayer Brown Lawyers Take $100,000 Pay Cut To Avoid Layoff

From the Chicago Tribune:

Mayer Brown is paying some of its associates to work in-house at corporate clients such as United Airlines parent UAL Corp. and Kraft Foods Inc. But there is a catch: The associates' pay is reduced to $60,000 plus benefits, from about $160,000, and the jobs last one year with no guarantee of further employment.

But for the associates, it's an alternative to joining the ranks of the unemployed.  "These are young lawyers, and they are not going to find another $160,000 job out there," said Art Gunther, a Chicago legal recruiter who places associates at firms. "It's a creative idea."

In the last month, eight of Mayer Brown's lawyers have gone to work at three other Chicago-area companies besides UAL and Kraft: Fortune Brands Inc., Baxter International Inc. and W.W. Grainger Inc. according to the Tribune.

"The vast majority took the job offer," said Paul Crimmins, a Mayer Brown partner who coordinated the program. "I really think it's a good situation for the associates because the job market is so tough right now."

Major law firms are suffering from the searing recession as much as any other industry because some of the financial institutions they rely on for lucrative work have imploded. Historically, layoffs at top-tier firms like Mayer Brown were kept quiet. This time around, firms are owning up to the fact that they are not as recession resistant as some thought.

This year, major firms have laid off nearly 4,000 lawyers and nearly 6,000 staffers, according to the legal blog Law Shucks.  In April, Mayer Brown eliminated 45 lawyers and 90 staff at its U.S. offices. The reduction is the second since November.

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