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The Law Firm Salary Raise Saga: Part 2
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A salary war that was started by Milbank LLP on June 10, 2021 saw more and more firms join the race to retain and lure the best talent. To summarize, Milbank offered an initial salary raise to its associates bumping up the pay scale for first-year associates to $200,000. What followed was an outburst of pay raises by firms who tried to match and surpass Milbank.

Firms including Davis Polk and Cravath had offered an even higher pay raise to their associates. However, Milbank LLP then announced a re-raise for its associates on June 29, 2021. The firm’s new pay scale ranges from $205,000 for the classes of 2021 and 2020 to $365,000 for the class of 2013. Many elite law firms have continued the trend by making pay raise announcements since then.

  
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Magic Circle law firms also joined the salary race to compete with other big players in the market. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer became the first Magic Circle law firm to react to salary raises by Milbank. The firm has announced a new salary scale for its United States-based associates. Associates from the class year 2020 will be paid a base salary of $205,000. Associates from the class of 2013 and classes senior to 2013 will be paid an annual base salary of $365,000.

London-based Magic Circle firm Allen & Overy LLP has also announced salary increases for its associates based in Los Angeles, Washington, District of Columbia, New York, and Sao Paulo. The firm’s new pay structure ranges from $205,000 for the class of 2020 to $365,000 for the class of 2013. The firm announced that it will separately communicate the compensation for more senior associates and counsel.

The next Magic Circle law firm to offer salary raises is London-based Clifford Chance LLP. From July 1, 2021, the firm’s United States-based associates will receive higher base salaries depending on their class year. The new pay scale starts from a base pay of $205,000 for the classes of 2021 and 2020 and goes up to $365,000 for the class of 2013 and classes senior to 2013. Additionally, summer law clerks will be paid at a semi-monthly rate of $8,541.67.

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The latest Magic Circle firm to join this race is Linklaters LLP, a multinational law firm headquartered in London. The firm announced that its United States based associates will now earn higher base salaries. Associates from the class of 2021 will earn a base salary of $202,500 and associates from the class of 2020 will receive $205,000 as base salary. The base pay for the class of 2013 will be $365,000.

Washington, District of Columbia-based law firm Kellogg Hansen Todd Figel & Frederick PLLC has overtaken the likes of Milbank, Davis Polk, and Cravath by offering a pay raise ranging from $20,000 to $25,000. The firm announced the pay raise through a memo announcing a $20,000 raise for first-year and second-year associates who will receive a salary of $245,000. Third-year and fourth-year associates will receive a base pay of $310,000 and $335,000 respectively. The base pay for fifth-year associates has been fixed at $360,000 and the same for associates from the sixth-year and above is fixed at $370,000. This massive pay rise will be effective from July 01, 2021. It is also noteworthy that the firm’s pay schedule is based on the years of experience of the associates and not their class years.

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, an international law firm based in New York with gross revenue of $2,662,890,000 in 2020, also announced a salary increase. Associates from the classes of 2013 and above will now receive a base salary of $365,000. The base pay ranges from $240,000 for the class of 2018 to $350,000 for the class of 2014. The new pay for the classes of 2019 and 2020 is set at $215,000 and $205,000 respectively. Skadden, ranked at No. 5 in the Am Law 2021 list, also reduced the minimum experience required to be considered for promotion to counsel from 7.5 years to 6.5 years out of law school.

McKool Smith, a law firm with over 120 trial lawyers, has also announced that associates will receive a pay raise ranging from $15,000 to $25,000 based on their class year. Associates from class years 2020 and 2019 will receive a salary bump of $15,000 which will bring their new salary to $205,000 and $215,000 respectively. The new salaries range from $240,000 for the class year 2018 to $350,000 for the class year 2014.

Covington and Burling LLP, ranked twenty-fifth on the latest Am Law rankings with gross revenue of over $1 billion in 2020 also announced a salary raise for all associates based in the firm’s United States offices. The firm, like Davis Polk, will offer a base salary of $202,500 to associates from the incoming class of 2021. Associates from the class of 2020 will receive a base pay of $205,000 and the salary for associates from the class of 2013 has gone up to $365,000. The firm also announced that summer associate salaries will also be raised to match the salary of the class of 2021. This new pay scale will be effective from July 1, 2021.

Irell & Manella LLP, a California-based law firm with gross revenue of $132,903,000 in 2020, announced that it will be exceeding the pay scale set by Davis Polk by offering $205,000 to the class of 2021 and first-year associates. The rest of the pay scale ranges from $215,000 for second-year associates to $365,000 for eighth-year associates.

Similarly, Keker, Van Nest & Peters LLP, a leading litigation boutique law firm based in California, also announced that it will be raising the salaries of its associates to compete with big players like Milbank and Cravath. According to the firm’s new pay scale, associates from the class of 2020 will receive a base salary of $205,000 and it goes up to $275,000 for the class of 2017. The firm’s senior associates from classes of 2013 and above will receive a salary of $365,000.

Desmarais LLP, a New York-based intellectual property boutique law firm, has announced that it will exceed the Big Law grid by at least $5,000 per associate. The firm’s new pay scale will range from $210,000 for first-year associates to $370,000 for eighth-year associates. This new pay grid will be effective from July 1, 2021.

New York-based boutique Cohen Ziffer Frenchman & McKenna, with a focus on insurance recovery and commercial litigation, has also announced a salary raise to hire the best talent in the legal market. The firm’s new salary structure will allow associates from the class of 2021 to receive a base salary of $202,500. Associates from the class of 2020 will now be paid a $205,000 salary and associates from the class of 2016 will be paid $305,000 as salary. The firm’s senior associates from the classes of 2013 and above will be paid a salary of $365,000. The firm has already expanded into a team of 22 lawyers within six months of its formation and this salary raise will only help the firm to grow more.

Hueston Hennigan LLP, a California-based litigation boutique firm also announced a salary hike for its associates and counsel. The firm will be paying $205,000 as base salary to associates from the class of 2020 and the pay will go up to a base salary of $365,000 to the associates of the classes of 2013 and above.

Brewer, Attorneys and Counselors, another boutique law firm based in New York, announced a salary increase for first-year associates. From July 1, 2021, the firm’s first-year associates will earn $205,000 as base salary and many other firm members at all levels will receive performance and tenure-based salary hikes.

Selendy & Gay PLLC, a leading New York-based boutique litigation firm, has also announced a higher pay scale for associates. The firm’s new pay scale will range from $202,500 for the class year 2021 to $350,000 for the class year 2014. The firm has also announced that it will also pay significant year-end bonuses to eligible associates.

Ross Aronstam & Moritz LLP, a litigation boutique firm based in Delaware, has also joined the Big Law firms in offering a salary hike to associates. The new pay scale ranges from $202,500 for the class of 2021 to $365,000 for the class of 2013.

Joining this list of boutique firms is Wilkinson Stekloff LLP, a District of Columbia-based litigation boutique firm. Wilkinson Stekloff will now offer a base salary of $205,000 to the class of 2020 and the base salary will go up to $275,000 for the class of 2017. The firm’s senior associates from the classes of 2013 and above will be paid a salary of $365,000. It surely is interesting to see how boutique firms are competing and even surpassing big players in the salary market in an endeavor to recruit and retain the best associates.

Coming back to bigger law firms, Goodwin Procter LLP, a global law firm ranked 23rd on the Am Law rankings and headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, will match the Davis Polk pay scale and offer higher salaries to its United States-based associates. The firm’s pay scale will range from $202,500 for associates from the class year 2021 to $365,000 for associates from the class years 2013 and above.

Morrison & Foerster LLP, a California-based international law firm that ranked thirty-fourth in the Am Law 100 list with gross revenue of $1,165,000,000 in 2020. The new salary scale offered by the firm starts from $202,500 for the class of 2021 and escalates based on the experience of the associates. The associates from the class year 2016 will receive a base pay of $305,000. The associates from the class of 2013 will receive a salary of $365,000.

Kirkland & Ellis LLP, the world’s largest law firm in terms of revenue, amassing gross revenue of $4,830,000,000 in 2020, has joined the Big Law race to offer higher salaries. The firm will be matching the $205,000 pay scale for associates from the class of 2020. Associates from the class of 2015 will receive $330,000 as base salary. The firm’s new pay structure will be effective from July 1, 2021, for all United States-based associates.

Sidley Austin LLP, an Illinois-based law firm with over 2,000 lawyers worldwide and ranked sixth in the latest Am Law 100 ranking, announced on June 21 that it will be bumping up its pay scale for associates. The firm’s associates from class years 2021 and 2020 will now earn $205,000 as base salary. Associates from class years 2017 and 2016 will earn $275,000 and $305,000 respectively. The base salary for the class year 2013 has also been increased to $365,000.

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, a global law firm with over 2200 attorneys, ranks at number 7 in the most recent Am Law 100 list. The firm has announced new annual base salaries for associates effective from July 1, 2021. The new base pay ranges from $205,000 for the class year 2020 to $365,000 for the class year 2013.

White & Case LLP, another top 10 law firm according to the Am Law 100 rankings, has announced salary increases ranging from $15,000 to $25,000. Associates from class years 2020 and 2019 will receive a $15,000 hike taking their new annual base salary to $205,000 and $215,000 respectively. Associates from the class of 2013 will receive a new annual base pay of $365,000, $25,000 more in comparison to the previous base salary of $340,000.

Hogan Lovells, a leading American-British law firm earning over $2 billion in revenue, communicated the new pay scale to its associates on June 17. The new base salary for the class of 2021 has been set at $202,500. Associates from the class of 2017 will receive a base pay of 275,000 and associates from class years 2013 and above will receive a $25,000 hike, taking their base salary to $365,000.

New York-based international law firm Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP will also be bumping up the salaries of associates from July 1, 2021. The associates from class years 2021 and 2020 will earn $205,000 as base salary and the new salary for the class year 2016 has been set at $305,000. The firm’s senior associate from class years 2013 and above will receive $365,000 as base pay.

Gunderson Dettmer, a Silicon Valley-based law firm with over 350 lawyers across offices globally, has also come forward and raised associate salaries. The firm’s new pay scale provides a base salary of $202,500 and $205,000 for class years 2021 and 2020 respectively. The new base pay goes up to $375,000 for the class year 2012.

Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP, an international law firm with over 900 attorneys worldwide, has announced that it will be offering a salary raise ranging from $12,500 to $25,000 based upon the experience level of the associates. The firm will offer a base salary of $202,500 to entry level associates. The base pay for associate level 1 is set at $205,000 and goes up to $240,000 for associate level 3. Managing associates will be paid a base salary ranging from $275,000 for managing associate level 1 to $330,000 for managing associate level 3. The salary for counsel level 1 and counsel level 2 will be $350,000 and $365,000 respectively.

Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP, a Big Law firm with gross revenue of $743,100,000 in 2020, has announced a performance-based salary hike for its full-time associates in the United States. According to the firm’s new pay scale, associates from the class year 2020 will earn $205,000 as salary and it will go all the way up to $365,000 for associates from the class year 2013.

Paul Hastings LLP, a leading international law firm ranked twenty- on the latest Am Law 100 ranking, has joined the salary race. The firm’s senior-most category of associates from class years 2013 or above will receive a new base pay of $365,000 and the base pay for junior associates from the class of 2020 has been bumped up to $205,000. The new changes will be effective from July 1, 2021.

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP, the world’s largest law firm focusing exclusively on business litigation and arbitration, announced that it will be offering salary increases to associates and of counsel from July 1, 2021. Matching Davis Polk’s pay scale, Quinn Emanuel will offer $202,500 as base pay to the class of 2021. The base pay will increase based upon the class years of the associates. Associates from the class of 2013 will receive a base pay of $365,000.

Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, a California-based law firm specializing in intellectual property and corporate law, also announced salary increases for associates and of counsel in the United States, United Kingdom, Hong Kong, and China. The new pay scale offers an annual base pay of $202,500 to the incoming 2021 fall associates. The annual base salary for first-year associates has been bumped up to $205,000. Eighth-year associates will receive $365,000 as salary. The firm also announced that the salary changes for associates beyond the class year 2013 will be communicated separately.

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, a firm with over 1300 attorneys worldwide and ranking twelfth in the latest Am Law 100 list, joined the list of elite firms to offer a pay raise to associates. The firm will pay $202,500 as annual base pay for the class of 2021 and the pay scale goes up to $365,000 for the class of 2013. The firm will determine the salaries for associates and counsel classes senior to 2013 on an individual basis.

Norton Rose Fulbright, an international law firm that ranked 13th in the latest Am Law 100 ranking, has also announced salary increases for associates in some of its United States offices. The firm’s New York, Texas, District of Columbia, and California-based associates will receive salary increases effective from July 1, 2021. Associates from the class year 2013 will be earning the highest base pay of $365,000 while associates from the class year 2021 will receive $202,500 as annual base salary.

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP, a New York-based international law firm with more than 1000 attorneys in offices worldwide, is set to match David Polk’s new pay scale. Simpson Thacher will now offer a base salary of $365,000 to associates from the class of 2013. The firm’s crop of junior associates from the class of 2020 will earn an annual base salary of $205,000. The firm will deal with the salaries of associates from class years beyond 2013 individually.

Fish & Richardson P.C., a global intellectual property law firm headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, announced a fresh salary grid effective from July 1, 2021. The new pay structure offers salary raises to associates based on their level of experience. A1 level associates will now earn a base salary of $205,000 and A7 level associates will receive an annual base pay of $350,000.

Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP, a full-service, global law firm with a focus on energy, financial services, and real estate industries, also announced salary increases for on-track associates, counsel, and special counsel in its United States offices. The revised salary scale provides that the class of 2021 will receive a base annual salary of $202,500 and the class of 2014 will receive a salary of $350,000. The firm’s counsel will receive a revised base pay of $365,000 and special counsel will receive 7.4 percent above their current base pay.

Another Big Law firm to join the wage war is WilmerHale, a Washington, District of Columbia-based law firm that ranked twenty-nighth in the latest Am Law 100 rankings. The firm’s new salary scale ranges from $202,500 for first-year associates of the class year 2021 to $240,000 for third-year associates. The firm’s fourth-year senior associate base salary is set at $275,000 and the same for sixth-year senior associates is $330,000. The firm’s first-year counsel will receive a base pay of $350,000 and second-year counsel will be paid a base salary of $365,000.

Schulte Roth & Zabel, LLP, an Am Law 100 law firm with gross revenue of $444,700,000, also announced salary increases for associates. Associates from the class of 2021 will receive a base annual salary of $202,500 and associates from the class of 2013 will receive a base annual pay of $365,000. Surprisingly, the firm also announced a pay raise for the associates of the class of 2012 who will be paid $375,000 as an annual salary.

Seward & Kissel LLP, a firm with a primary focus on the financial services industry, will also be joining the likes of Davis Polk by paying an annual base salary of $202,500 to the associates from the class of 2021. The new salary for the class of 2020 has been set at $205,000. The firm will pay a salary of $365,000 to the class of 2013. The firm will also update its bonus structure soon.

Munger, Tolles, & Olson LLP, a leading California-based law firm, announced that it will be offering salary increases ranging from $12,500 to $25,000 to associates. The new pay scale ranges from $202,500 for the class year 2021 to $365,000 for the class years 2013 and above. The firm’s new pay scale is effective from July 1, 2021.

Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP, a firm ranked at forty-sixth position in the latest Am Law 100 rankings, has also announced a higher pay scale for associates. From July 1, 2021, the firm’s associates from the class of 2021 will earn $202,500 and the base pay for associates from the class of 2013 and classes senior to 2013 will rise to $365,000.

Perkins & Coie LLP, a multinational firm headquartered in Seattle, Washington, has announced that associates from the class of 2013 will now earn a higher base pay of $365,000. Associates from the class of 2017 will receive $275,000 as base salary. The base pay for the class of 2020 has been raised to $205,000.

King & Spalding LLP, ranking twenty-first on the Am Law rankings, has also announced that associates will earn a higher base pay from July 1, 2021. The new pay scale will allow associates from the class of 2014 or classes senior to 2014 to earn $350,000 as base pay. The class of 2020 will now earn a base pay of $205,000.

Shearman & Sterling LLP, with a team of more than 850 lawyers around the world, announced that it will be raising the salaries for associates and counsel. Associates from class years 2021 and 2020 will earn a base salary of $202,500 and $205,000 respectively. Associates from the class year 2013 will receive a salary hike of $25,000 and will earn $365,000 as base pay. The firm will also increase the base salaries for counsel by $15,000.

The relatively smaller law firm, Brown Rudnick LLP, with over 200 attorneys, has also announced salary increases for associates. The new salary scale ranges from $205,000 for the class of 2020 to $350,000 for the class of 2014. The salaries for summer associates will also be increased. The new pay scale is effective from July 1, 2021.

One of the latest firms to join this race is Reed Smith LLP, a global law firm with over 30 offices worldwide and ranked at the twenty-sixth position in the latest Am Law ranking. The firm has announced that first-year associates will now receive $205,000 as base pay. The firm’s larger salary restructuring scheme aims to end regional differences in salaries.

Alston & Bird LLP, an international law firm headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, has announced that it will be offering a higher salary to associates from July 1. The new pay scale will allow associates from the class of 2014 to make $350,000 as base pay and associates from the class of 2021 will receive $202,500 as base salary.

Smyser Kaplan & Veselka LLP, a Texas-based litigation boutique firm, has also announced a salary increase for associates. The firm’s associates from the classes of 2021 and 2020 will receive a base salary of $205,000 and the associates from the the class of 2014 will receive a base pay of $350,000

Glenn Agre Bergman & Fuentes LLP, a boutique law firm specializing in general commercial litigation, white collar crimes, and bankruptcy matters, has joined the list of law firms that have offered salary raises to associates. From July 1, the firm will pay $205,000 as base pay to the class of 2020 and $365,000 as base salary for the class of 2013 and classes senior to 2013.

Susman Godfrey, a litigation boutique headquartered in Houston, Texas, has offered salary raises to associates and has surpassed the scale set by Davis Polk in doing so. The firm’s new salary scale will offer a base salary of $210,000 to the class of 2020 and it will go up to $370,000 for the class of 2013.

For Part-1 of the law firm salary raise saga, visit: https://www.jdjournal.com/2021/06/30/the-law-firm-salary-raise-saga-part-1/



 

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