After Milbank raises associate salaries, Davis Polk goes higher and many follow
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Updated: Several law firms followed Milbank’s lead when it announced June 10 that it was raising pay for associates to $200,000 for the first-year class and $355,000 for those with the most experience.
Then Davis Polk & Wardwell announced the next day that it was topping the Milbank scale, raising associate pay to $202,500 for the class of 2021 and $365,000 for the most senior associates, report Above the Law, Law.com, Bloomberg Law and Law360.
That same day, six law firms announced that they were generally following the higher Davis Polk scale. They are Baker McKenzie, Proskauer Rose, Lowenstein Sandler (which is matching Davis Polk on the class of 2020 and making “corresponding” adjustments for others), Dechert, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, and Gunderson Dettmer Stough Villeneuve Franklin & Hachigian, Above the Law reports.
McDermott, Will & Emery, which initially matched the Milbank scale, announced last Friday that it would match Davis Polk, according to Law.com.
Above the Law has a “Salary Wars Scorecard” listing firms and their raises here. On Thursday, June 17—a week after Milbank’s initial announcement—more than 40 mostly BigLaw firms had announced raises, and the vast majority were at the higher Davis Polk scale.
Here is Milbank’s new scale, which takes effect July 1:
• Class of 2021 and 2020: $200,000
• Class of 2019: $210,000
• Class of 2018: $230,000
• Class of 2017: $270,000
• Class of 2016: $295,000
• Class of 2015: $320,000
• Class of 2014: $340,000
• Class of 2013: $355,000
Here is the Davis Polk scale, which also takes effect July 1:
• Class of 2021: $202,500
• Class of 2020: $205,000
• Class of 2019: $215,000
• Class of 2018: $240,000
• Class of 2017: $275,000
• Class of 2016: $305,000
• Class of 2015: $330,000
• Class of 2014: $350,000
• Class of 2013: $365,000
The new Davis Polk scale gives pay increases of $12,500 to $15,000 for more recent associates, $20,000 for midlevel associates and $25,000 for more experienced associates when compared to the salary scale set in 2018, according to Law.com. The Milbank pay bumps ranged from $10,000 for associates with less experience and $15,000 for others.
Many firms are paying special bonuses this year that range from $12,000 to $64,000 based on class year. Davis Polk had set the standard for those special bonuses. Year-end bonuses last year typically ranged from $15,000 to $100,000 based on class year.
Law.com sees Davis Polk’s new move as raising the stakes for Am Law 100 firms “as partners take a close look at whether their firm profitability this year can keep up with the rising market for associate pay.”