Dozens of Law Firms Match Milbank Salary Pay Scale
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Summary: Several law firms have matched the new associate pay scale set by Milbank this year. 

On June 4, 2018, Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy changed the legal industry when it announced it was raising its first-year associate salary rate from $180,000 to $190,000. The increase affected other associate years as well, and other law firms subsequently announced that they were matching the Milbank scale, according to


One of those firms, Cravath, Swaine & Moore even upped the ante by stating they would pay mid-level and senior-level associates a higher salary than the Milbank Scale. See the two scales below:

The Milbank Scale:

  • First year: $190,000
  • Second year: $200,000
  • Third year: $220,000
  • Fourth year: $250,000
  • Fifth year: $275,000
  • Sixth year: $295,000
  • Seventh year: $315,000
  • Eighth year: $330,000

The Cravath Scale: 

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  • Class of 2017 — $190,000
  • Class of 2016 — $200,000
  • Class of 2015 — $220,000
  • Class of 2014 — $255,000
  • Class of 2013 — $280,000
  • Class of 2012 — $305,000
  • Class of 2011 — $325,000
  • Class of 2010 — $340,000

Since Milbank’s announcement, several firms have stated they would match the new scale while others have stayed quiet. So far, the following firms have agreed to increase their scales to match Milbank’s.

  1. Akin Gump
  2. Baker McKenzie
  3. Barack Ferrazano
  4. Brown Rudnick
  5. Cahill
  6. Cleary
  7. Clifford Chance
  8. Cooley
  9. Cravath
  10. Davis Polk
  11. Debevoise
  12. Dechert
  13. Freshfields
  14. Fried Frank
  15. Goodwin
  16. Greenberg Gross
  17. Gunderson
  18. Holwell Shuster & Goldberg
  19. Hueston Hennigan
  20. Irell
  21. Jones Day
  22. Kaplan & Company
  23. Keker
  24. Kirkland & Ellis
  25. Kramer Levin
  26. Morgan Lewis
  27. Munger Tolles
  28. Orick
  29. Paul Weiss
  30. Proskauer
  31. Quinn Emanuel
  32. Ropes & Gray
  33. Schulte Roth
  34. Selendy & Gay
  35. Sherman & Sterling
  36. Sidley Austin
  37. Skadden
  38. Sullivan & Cromwell
  39. Vinson & Elkins
  40. Weil Gotshal
  41. White & Case
  42. Wilkie Farr
  43. Wilson Sonsini
  44. Winston & Strawn

Susman Godfrey, who already paid first-year associates $190,000 since 2016, told The American Lawyer that another raise could be in the pipeline. The law firm said that they wanted to attract and retain the best talent, which meant offering competitive salaries.

“If I were a betting man … discussion would not be about meeting the Milbank, Cravath scale. It’ll be about surpassing it,” Neal Manne, managing partner of Susman Godfrey, said to The American Lawyer.

Manne added that paying more for quality attorneys was not a negative for the firm, and that increasing revenue was more important.

“Our real focus is on the revenue side. We can grow our revenues by winning cases,” Manne said. “Changes in our costs in acquiring and paying our associates has no impact on our clients, except that they have happier associates working on their cases.”

But while dozens of law firms are catching up to Milbank, some refuse. For instance, Reed Smith told The American Lawyer that it refused to match the new scale.

In 2016, Cravath changed the pay scale from $160,000 to $180,000. The previous scale was set by Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP who raised the amount from $145,000 to $160,000 in 2007.

What do you think of the pay scale for law firm associates? Let us know in the comments below.



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