Leaders Struggle with Setting Firmwide Rates

December 30, 2014 – In The News
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Mark L. Silow was featured in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article, “Leaders Struggle with Setting Firmwide Rates.” Full text can be found in the December 30, 2014, issue, but a synopsis is below.

In an era where law firms tend to span across numerous markets and practice areas, many of these firms have ventured away from uniform rates to more specialized approaches, creating vast differences in charged rates across offices, practices and attorney levels.

Mark Silow, Fox Rothschild firmwide managing partner, explains that, currently, there is a dynamic where people feel more encouraged and emboldened about the ability to increase rates and salaries, and, on the other hand, “everybody remains pretty scared” given the recession is not far in the rearview mirror.

He also says that some practices are back to boom times while others are operating in the “new normal,” making rate-setting much more complicated.

For Silow, the issue starts at the first-year associate level where Fox has been experiencing upward movement in starting salaries in certain markets — such as New York, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and San Francisco — but not in others. He explains that the firm, like many others, has been struggling with how to deal with that market differentiation.

“If you have multiple offices in lots of different markets like we do and you run your firm as one, integrated firm where work flows all over the firm to different offices, how do you deal with the fact that associates may be of the same rank but are being paid different amounts and charge different amounts?” Silow asks.

He concludes by saying Fox tries to keep associates within a “fairly confined boundary” in terms of the spread in rates charged. The same goes for partners. As Silow puts it, there are some matters or practices for which clients will pay a higher partner rate if a certain expertise is required.

Click here to view the full article.