June 4, 2020

O'Melveny's Chair Brad Butwin lied about coronavirus pay cuts

       O'Melveny's Chair Brad Butwin gave an interview to the American Lawyer. In the interview, Mr. Butwin said that O'Melveny did not cut pay during the covid-19 crisis. This is big. Attorneys and clients are keeping track of firms that announced pay cuts, because it sends a signal, e.g., about how the firm treats employees, and the firm's financial condition. Mr. Butwin is providing them with useful information when he tells this reporter that O'Melveny did not change compensation. 

       Mr. Butwin went on to say that the partners "cherish" their employees and will do "all [they] can to protect them." This is amazing. Who wouldn't want to work for such a firm? Those other firms treat you like an employee, but O'Melveny's partners cherish you and will do anything for you.

       The problem is that just a few weeks prior, law students were in an uproar because O'Melveny did cut summer associate pay, in a private e-mail to them. Their pay was cut by about $10,000 over the summer. These pay cuts will boost the partners' income by an estimated 0.24% ($10,000 pay cut per summer associate multiplied by an estimated 80 summer associates, divided by 170 partners, divided by $2,000,000 profit per partner = 0.24%). 

       Remember, these are students. They need that money for living expenses, more than partners need an extra 0.24% of income. And the partners know they need the money. That's why O'Melveny offered the students a $10,000 loan to make up for the lost income.  

       So it turns out there's one thing O'Melveny's partners cherish more than their employees -- a 0.24% increase in income. If the partners can make an extra 0.24% by cutting employee wages, they'll do it. This is a small story, but I write about it because it's an amusing amalgam of the money-grubbing and disingenuousness you might expect from this organization.

Brad Butwin, O'Melveny, OMM, summer associate, recruiting, pay, compensation, annual bonus, winter bonus, Brandon Jacobsen