Wither The Law Firm Technology Subsidy?

If your firm expects you to have the most expensive data plan, shouldn’t they be giving you something for the inconvenience? I mean, perhaps it’s not an inconvenience because you’re busy streaming Friends episodes on the subway and forcing yourself to pretend you’re watching something clever. But the firm doesn’t know that you’ve got terrible taste in television.

Practicing law in the 21st century requires more costly tools than it used to. Attorneys need laptops, smartphones, wifi access at the bare minimum, and potentially licenses to a suite of security products. Firms rarely issue all of these products anymore, both out of respect for the choices of individual associates and in recognition that cloud-based solutions make the specific product choice largely irrelevant. But many firms recognize that they’re still making an ask of their attorneys and respond with a little something to ease the burden.

Firms like Simpson and Paul Weiss offer tech stipends. Brown Rudnick even tops those offerings. It’s a nice gesture to cover the cost of equipment that firms absolutely expect an associate to have. For years, we’ve advocated for every firm to follow suit and kick in to cover the cost of the tools of the trade.

But unfortunately some firms are starting to pull back. Womble Bond Dickinson just informed its associates that it will no longer subsidize their data plans:

We all know how much the UK appreciates its counterproductive austerity, and even though the US entity is technically quasi-independent, maybe the Brits are rubbing off on the firm.

Make no mistake, this is a compensation cut. When every associate relied upon this reimbursement, taking it away cuts their take home, after tax, compensation by… what?… a few hundred or so? It’s not a lot, but that’s a student loan payment for these people. Or maybe half a student loan payment.

In any event, this is a troubling sign that firms might be moving toward the nickel and diming  their own associates. So if you’re looking at firms, remember to take some time to check out the perks.

Earlier: Biglaw Firm Blows Competition Out Of The Water With Tech Spending Stipend For Associates
Actually, THIS Tech Stipend Blows The Competition Out Of The Water