The 20 per cent reduction will see junior lawyers who start at the firm next January in any of its major markets, such as New York, Chicago, California and Washington DC, taking home $130,000 (£78,000) rather than $160,000. Lawyers in Pittsburgh will be paid $110,000.
In a statement, Reed Smith confirmed that the move would only affect the group of 51 lawyers who start in January next year and would only apply to lawyers in the firm’s US offices.
It added that salary levels for 2010 newly qualifying lawyers in Europe, the Middle East and Asia would be determined during 2010.
The firm has also reduced the rate it charges out US first years by 20 per cent while the first year associate annual billable hour expectation has gone from 1,900 to 1,700 hours.
Reed Smith’s global managing partner Greg Jordan said the decision to cut rates and remuneration was made in response to feedback from clients and concerns about driving down the cost of legal services.
“We wanted to send a clear message that we’re listening,” added Jordan.
Last month The Lawyer reported that Reed Smith had broken the lockstep remuneration system for its associates, replacing it with a merit-based structure (28 October 2009).