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Cravath May Be A Compensation Leader, But It’s A Follower When It Comes To Office Return Plans

Cravath May Be A Compensation Leader, But It's A Follower When It Comes To Office Return Plans
Written by publisher team

office reopen welcomeBiglaw firms are still trying to get associates to return to the office in an orderly fashion in our “post”-pandemic world. At this point, it looks like the “Kirkland model” (ie, in-office work for three days each week) seems to have taken hold among elite firms.

But what about Cravath? What’s going on at the firm that just brought a compensation reckoning to Biglaw, with its $215,000 to $415,000 salary scale?

The firm recently rolled out a plan that seems eminently reasonable. Here’s an excerpt from a memo sent by Faiza Saeed, Cravath’s presiding partner (emphasis added; full memo available on the next page):

After several false starts, our return feels more promising this time, though we know the right cadence will be a work in progress. It will be rejuvenating to recapture some of the routine and togetherness we have missed, while we also embrace the flexibility that makes us more balanced and productive. Beginning Monday, March 21, we ask everyone to be in the office at least two workdays per week. After the spring holidays, as of Monday, April 25, we’ll move to three weekdays per week.

Just like Kirkland, Cravath will eventually require associates to work from the office three days each week, but at least they’re offering a ramping up period. Some associates, however, say these plans are “needlessly premature” and that they’re being “forced to return to a broken, archaic system for optics.”

“It is a monumental missed opportunity that is putting undue stress on so many still dealing with COVID,” said one source from the firm.

Cravath associates crave more than just money; They want better work-life balance opportunities, too. Some firms — like Quinn Emanuel, for example — have offered indefinite remote work options for attorneys, but we’re not sure that Cravath is offering possibilities like this to its associates as part of its flexible remote work plans. For now, it looks like if associates want their Cravath cash, they’ll need to work at the office a few days each week to get it.

(Flip to the next page to read the Cravath memo in full.)

As soon as you find out about reopening plans at your firm, please email us (subject line: “[Firm Name] Office Reopening”) or text us at (646) 820-8477. We always keep our sources on stories anonymous. There’s no need to send a memo (if one exists) using your firm email account; your personal email account is fine. If a memo has been circulated, please be sure to include it as proof; we like to post complete memos as a service to our readers. You can take a photo of the memo and attach as a picture if you are worried about metadata in a PDF or Word file. Thanks.


Staci ZaretskyStaci Zaretsky is a senior editor at Above the Law, where she’s worked since 2011. She’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to email her with any tips, questions, comments, or critiques. You can follow her on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.

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