Law Firms

Small Firm Pays Big, But Not Right Away


A smaller Manhattan-based law firm gives students from lower-tier schools a chance to attain salaries comparable to that of the big firms—if they can make it through the first few years.

Fifty-lawyer Duval & Stachenfeld pays first-year associates only $60,000, well below the starting salary of $160,000 paid by many big New York law firms, the Recorder reports. But midyear and senior associates get at least the same pay as associates elsewhere.

The firm found it was difficult to compete for top law students, so it tried a pay scale that gives associates with lesser resumes a chance to prove themselves. The pay plan also attracts experienced but dissatisfied associates from the big firms. About half the firm’s new associates don’t make it to the third year.

“Since we’re not paying as much, we can hire more associates—some turn out to be astonishingly good, and sometimes people aren’t that good,” said founding partner Bruce Stachenfeld.

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