After Davis Polk sets new bar for associate raises, Cravath ups the ante
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Updated: All eyes were on Cravath, Swaine & Moore after Davis Polk & Wardwell announced associate raises last week that set a new, higher standard.
Cravath finally announced its raises Monday, and they are higher than the Davis Polk standard for midlevel and senior associate classes.
That leaves many BigLaw firms in a quandary. Most had held back on salary announcements until Davis Polk acted Feb. 22. After that, at least 25 large and boutique law firms announced bonuses, and most matched Davis Polk, according to Above the Law’s “Salary Wars Scorecard.”
“Cravath’s move raises the question of whether the firms that pay market salaries will now move their pay scales up again en masse,” Law.com reported.
Cravath’s associate pay scale ranges from $215,000 to $415,000, based on associate class. The Davis Polk scale had ranged from $215,000 to $396,500. Milbank’s scale had ranged from $215,000 to $385,000.
According to Law.com, the higher pay for more senior associates reflects roles that are becoming more essential.
“That has been amplified in the past two years as midlevel and senior associates began working more independently due to remote work increasing, and saw increased interaction with clients,” Law.com reported, citing information from industry watchers.
Here is Cravath’s salary scale:
• Class of 2021: $215,000 (same as Milbank and Davis Polk)
• Class of 2020: $225,000 (same as Milbank and Davis Polk)
• Class of 2019: $250,000 (same as Milbank and Davis Polk)
• Class of 2018: $295,000 (compared to $285,000 at Milbank and $293,500 at Davis Polk)
• Class of 2017: $345,000 (compared to $325,000 at Milbank and $335,000 at Davis Polk)
• Class of 2016: $370,000 (compared to $350,000 at Milbank and $360,500 at Davis Polk)
• Class of 2015: $400,000 (compared to $370,000 at Milbank and $381,000 at Davis Polk)
• Class of 2014: $415,000 (compared to $385,000 at Milbank and $396,500 at Davis Polk)
After Cravath’s announcement Feb. 28, 14 mostly BigLaw firms matched the new pay scale, and one slightly exceeded it by paying its longest-serving associates $425,000, according to Above the Law’s salary tracker. Some of the matching firms had previously announced raises matching Milbank or Davis Polk.
One firm, however, stuck with the Davis Polk scale when it made its announcement March 2: Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer.
“We always suspected that raises like this would divide BigLaw into compensation tiers, but we didn’t think it would happen this quickly,” Above the Law wrote.
Updated March 3 at 3:04 p.m. to report on law firms that followed Cravath.