Greenberg ups first-year pay in 2 offices to $145K from $125K; will competitors follow suit?

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Working as a first-year associate in the Miami and Fort Lauderdale, Fla., offices of Greenberg Traurig just got more rewarding.

The firm has increased starting salaries for new attorneys there to $145,000 annually from $125,000, the Daily Business Review reports.

Such announcements of pay raises for fledgling legal eagles at BigLaw firms were once commonplace around the time that a new crop of law school graduates arrived to start work each fall. But since the Great Recession, layoffs and even pay cuts have not been unusual, and salaries, for those lucky enough to be working as associates at major firms, have remained largely flat during the last five years or so, with some exceptions.

Bickel & Brewer upped the ante this year for new associates from $175,000 to $185,000, the article notes, and Foley & Lardner already is paying $145,000 to first-years in Miami. Meanwhile, it remains to be seen how many other firms will follow suit.

A spokeswoman for Holland & Knight said its new associates in South Florida earn $135,000, but the firm will review their pay “to make sure we’re competitive.”

Bill Davis, who serves as managing partner in the Miami office of Foley & Lardner said he isn’t surprised to hear Greenberg has upped the ante.

“It’s a very competitive environment to get first-tier associates, and it’s what the top firms are paying,” he told the Daily Business Review. “If you’re targeting the high end of the market, it’s very competitive.”

Not every well-known law firm shares his perspective, however, the article recounts.

GrayRobinson’s president, Byrd “Biff” Marshall, says his firm has set starting salaries for its South Florida first-years at $105,000 and has no plans to raise their pay.

“We get very good candidates interested in working for us at that rate, and we don’t intend to pass along higher prices to our clients,” he stated.

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