Law Practice

NY 1st-Year Pay Plan: $250K, But No Jobs

Observers are waiting to see what the next salary move will be in New York City, where law firms that tried to surge ahead on first-year pay are now neck-and-neck with competitors from other major cities.

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett’s move earlier this year to raise starting pay to $160,000 momentarily seemed like a big upward bound. “But while Simpson’s bump momentarily opened up a $25,000 gap between top-end New York firms and their Washington counterparts, the pack soon matched the move. Eight months later, starting salaries for first-years at most of the 200 largest firms nationwide remain bunched at $160,000,” reports New York Lawyer (sub. req.), in a reprint of a Legal Times article.

Now the question isn’t so much whether some New York City firms will up the ante again, but when. Another round of raises is inevitable, many observers believe, “probably ignited by a New York corporate firm looking to up the bidding war for talent,” the article reports.

Earlier this year, the National Law Journal suggested “whispers” of a $190,000 starting salary in NYC—which, of course, has not yet become the new standard even as October begins.

For the moment, at least, the only big salary move was suggested in jest by the unnamed head of a Washington firm, according to the Legal Times article. “The firm will announce tomorrow we’re going to $250,000—but we’re just not going to hire anyone,” he says.

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