Lawyer Pay

Davis Polk finally announces its associate pay scale; 'this is not a Milbank match'

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Updated: Davis Polk & Wardwell has finally announced its new associate pay scale, and it is more generous than the standard set by Milbank last month, at least for more experienced associates.

“This is not a Milbank match. We repeat, this is not a Milbank match,” Above the Law reports.

The Milbank scale begins at $215,000 for the class of 2021 and tops out at $385,000 for the class of 2014 and beyond. The Davis Polk scale also begins at $215,000, but it beats Milbank beginning with the class of 2018. The most experienced associates at Davis Polk will earn $396,500. reports that the move “was somewhat unique in its timing.” It took about a month for Davis Polk to inform associates of its decision. The last few rounds of bonuses or pay increases, on the other hand, were “upped by Davis Polk within a few days,” reports.

Here is the Davis Polk scale, as reported by Above the Law and

• Class of 2021: $215,000 (same as Milbank)

• Class of 2020: $225,000 (same as Milbank)

• Class of 2019: $250,000 (same as Milbank)

• Class of 2018: $293,500 (compared to $285,000 at Milbank)

• Class of 2017: $335,000 (compared to $325,000 at Milbank)

• Class of 2016: $360,500 (compared to $350,000 at Milbank)

• Class of 2015: $381,000 (compared to $370,000 at Milbank)

• Class of 2014 and beyond: $396,500 (compared to $385,000 at Milbank)

The raises are retroactive to Jan. 1 for associates in good standing March 15, according to

Many law firms had held back announcements on pay hikes, possibly because they were waiting to see what Davis Polk and Cravath, Swaine & Moore would do. When Milbank announced raises in 2018, Cravath followed with a higher scale. The same thing happened last year when Davis Polk decided to pay more money than Milbank.

After the Davis Polk announcement, several law firms responded with matches within days. As of Feb. 24, these firms had announced matches, according to Above the Law, Bloomberg Law and

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton

Debevoise & Plimpton (with a higher tier of $406,500 for class of 2013 and beyond)


Hueston Hennigan

Kirkland & Ellis

McDermott Will & Emery

O’Melveny & Myers

Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison

Proskauer Rose

Ropes & Gray (matching Debevoise)

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom

Willkie Farr & Gallagher

Before the Davis Polk announcement, several California law firms had recently announced that they were matching or slightly exceeding the Milbank scale, previously reported.

Those law firms included Fenwick & West; Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati; Cooley; and Gunderson Dettmer Stough Villeneuve Franklin & Hachigian.

Above the Law keeps track of law firms that have announced salary increases at its “Salary Wars Scorecard” here.

Updated Feb. 24 at 2:10 p.m. to include law firms that matched Davis Polk & Wardwell.

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