ASSOCIATE AND OPPORTUNITY ASSOCIATE PROGRAMS AT DUVAL & STACHENFELD
Duval & Stachenfeld has learned that “talent” isn’t always found in obvious locations and, accordingly, we are being more creative in our search for talent. To that end we have established two entry-level associate programs – the Principal Associate Program and the Opportunity Associate Program. In addition, we recently launched a third program, the Alternative Track Program, which is available to attorneys who have been practicing with us under certain circumstances (i.e., this program is not available for entry level attorneys). Below is a brief description of all three programs; of course, the Firm reserves the right to discontinue, modify, change or terminate any of the programs and plans described herein and/or to establish different programs or plans in its discretion.
Principal Associate Program:
This program is targeted at the highest caliber law students at the most selective law schools. The essence of this program is that for the first three years of employment, Principal Associates are paid a base salary that exceeds the “market” paid by major law firms in New York City. For example, first year base salary for Principal Associates joining the Firm's NY office is $175,000. After the third year the compensation becomes more merit based; however, we generally seek to have overall compensation consistent with the so-called large New York law firm “market”.
Generally, we expect to hire into our Principal Associate Program only star-quality lawyers who wish to develop into lawyers of the highest quality and competence over time.
Opportunity Associate Program (for full employment starting September 2013):
As noted above, talent does not necessarily stare one in the face through a gilt-edged resume. Occasionally, exceptional attorneys do not necessarily shine in law school or do not have the funding or skill set to be accepted into a top law school, yet have the inherent ability to become exceptional lawyers. Indeed, we have found some of our greatest lawyers with resumes that are not necessarily Principal Associate quality, yet the attorneys ultimately developed over time into Principal Associate quality attorneys.
To permit the Firm and associates of somewhat hidden talent to enjoy success together, we have developed our Opportunity Associate Program. The essence of this Program is that there is a two-year period during which the associate (i) is paid significantly below major law firm “market” (the starting salary is $70,000), (ii) has 9 months to “make the team”, and (iii) if not terminated during such 9 month period, continues in the program with the expectation that in the second year the associate will be promoted to Principal Associate status, terminated, or promoted into our Alternative Track Program (described below).
Although Opportunity Associates will start out with lower compensation than Principal Associates, they are eligible to become Principal Associates, and if they achieve that status at the Firm there will be no further distinction between them and the Principal Associates who are hired into such status directly from law school as described above.
Generally, we expect to hire excellent lawyers into our Opportunity Associate Program who wish to develop into lawyers of the highest quality and competence over time.
Our hiring is targeted for the class beginning work full time in September of 2013. However, The Firm may, in its discretion, offer an early start (the “Early Start”) to some Opportunity Associates, in which event such Opportunity Associates (“Early Start Opportunity Associates") will commence work at the Firm on or about January 2 (or such other date selected by the Firm) and will work as Opportunity Associates under the guidelines described above, except that:
1. Any Early Start Opportunity Associates who commence their position at the Firm on or before January 15, initially will receive compensation at an annual rate of $50,000 (and there may be a discretionary bonus) until such date (the “Orientation Date”) as the Opportunity Associates who are in the same class as such Early Start Opportunity Associate (but are not participating in the Early Start) shall commence their positions with the Firm.
2. Any Early Start Opportunity Associates who commence their position at the Firm on or before January 15, will receive one week’s vacation during the period from July 1 – August 15 of the same year in which they start, and thereafter shall be subject to the Firm’s vacation policies, as detailed in our Policy Manual.
3. Provided that an Early Start Opportunity Associate shall have commenced his or her position at the Firm on or before January 15, then in or about August of the same year (or, if the Early Start Opportunity Associate does not start on or before January 15, then on such other date as determined by the Firm), the Firm will evaluate the performance of such Early Start Opportunity Associate. If an Early Start Opportunity Associate’s performance has been satisfactory, he or she will be permitted to continue with the Firm as an Opportunity Associate if the applicable department has a need for him or her, in which case as of the Orientation Date, such Early Start Opportunity Associate will participate in the Orientation for the incoming class of Opportunity Associates and will receive the compensation and other benefits which are provided to all of the incoming Opportunity Associates for that year. If such department does not have a need for the applicable Opportunity Associate, the Firm may enter into an interim arrangement with such Opportunity Associate or, alternatively, his or her employment will be discontinued. If an Early Start Opportunity Associate’s performance has not been satisfactory during the Early Start period, then his or her employment will be discontinued.
Alternative Track Associate Program:
Associates are not eligible for this Program at the time they graduate from law school. It is intended to be an escape valve for (i) associates who do not necessarily have the skill set to become Principal Associates but who are otherwise very valuable to the firm, (ii) situations in which a department does not have the profitability of client base to pay Principal Associate salaries, or (iii) associates who are otherwise skilled and of great value to the Firm but want to step off the partnership track and seek reduced hours or reduced workload. Overall compensation is targeted to the individual associate, however, generally it is significantly less than the compensation payable in the Principal Associate Program.
The Alternative Track Program has been developed to permit these alternative resolutions to what would otherwise be an “up or out” policy that might result in talent leaving the Firm.
Of course, these programs are being launched with the understanding and expectation that there will have to be some adjustments. However, our committed goal is to create programs that are beneficial to our firm and to the attorneys who come to work here.