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Atlanta-based law firm McKenna, Long & Aldridge, which has a San Diego office, announced today that it will drop salaries for new associates by $20,000, another example of how this recession is hitting industries previously thought of as recession proof.

Last month, voiceofsandiego.org contributor Rich Acello wrote about local law firms having to lay off employees as the recession has deepened.

In the past, law firms have actually thrived during downturns because competition among businesses becomes more cutthroat, and lawyers are needed for business restructuring. But this recession is different, Acello found, because businesses aren’t reorganizing, they’re liquidating, leaving less work for lawyers.

McKenna, Long & Aldridge acknowledged the current economy as a contributing factor to its decision on associate pay, but added that the salary cut is part of a years-long effort by the firm to change its compensation practices to a “merit-based” system.

“We are committed to providing our clients with top-quality legal counsel at a cost that is appropriate to the market and economic conditions,” said firm chairman Jeff Haidet in a news release.

Update: The original version of this post incorrectly stated that McKenna, Long & Aldridge is a San Diego-based firm.

DAVID WASHBURN

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