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Will $180,000 First Year Associate Salaries Hurt Diversity in Big Law?
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Photo courtesy of Law Sarasota.

Photo courtesy of Law Sarasota.

Summary: Bloomberg Law speculates that the Big Law associate salary raises may lead to increased billable hours and decreased mentorship time.

The Big Law salary increase from $160,000 to $180,000/a year is great for most associates, but Bloomberg Law said that the raises actually may hurt diversity.

  
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“The premise is this: the result of the salary hikes has put pressure on billable hours for young lawyers, one of the primary reasons women leave Big Law,” Casey Sullivan wrote on Bloomberg Law. “At the same time, an increased focus on the billable hour means less time spent on mentor programs, which is bad for both women and minorities.”

Bloomberg Law continued by adding that Bloomberg BNA had reported that in environments without mentorship, diverse attorneys become marginalized and eventually leave their firms.

This theory comes after the recent controversial associate salary raises that occurred this summer. More than 110 large law firms raised their associate salaries starting July 1st of this year after Cravath, Swaine & Moore first announced their new base pay scale.

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Some said the salary increase was long overdue and necessary to retain and attract talent. However, others were against the change.

Kelley Drye & Warren’s new chair James Carr had already been critical, saying the raises could turn off clients. For instance, it has already been reported that one Big Law client, Bank of America, felt salary increases were unjustified and that they didn’t want to absorb costs.



“While we respect the firms’ judgment about what best serves their long-term competitive interests, we are aware of no market-driven basis for such an increase and do not expect to bear the costs of the firms’ decisions,” David Leitch, Bank of America’s global general counsel, wrote in June.

Since the salary raises are still relatively new, it is unclear what will be the actual long-term effects on diversity. However, it has also been reported that many large law firms actively try to cultivate and retain women and minorities. These firms do so by offering flexible schedules, leadership programs, and other benefits.

Do you think the salary increase hurts minorities and women? Let us know in the comments below.

Source: Bloomberg Law



 

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