Lawyer Pay

What will Cravath and Davis Polk do? Many law firms await more news on salary hikes

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Milbank’s pay hikes for associates have yet to gain widespread acceptance in BigLaw.

“Large swaths” of the legal industry seem to be holding back since Milbank announced Jan. 20 that it was raising associate pay by $10,000 to $20,000, according to Above the Law. The blog’s salary tracker shows that, by Feb. 10, at least 15 BigLaw and boutique firms had matched or slightly exceeded the Milbank scale.

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.

Complicating matters is whether Davis Polk & Wardwell and Cravath, Swaine & Moore will match or exceed Milbank’s numbers, report and Above the Law. 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.

Some law firms are “quietly telling associates they will match the market scale whenever it has been finalized,” according to “Other firms, meanwhile, are plotting their own course, exposing some fragmentation in the industry.”

Two law firms telling associates tat they will match the prevailing rate are Cooley and Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, Above the Law has reported.

Another law firm, Cahill Gordon & Reindel, has not yet made an announcement. The chairman of its executive committee, William Hartnett, explained why in an interview with

“Various firms say it’s X and then Y,” he said. “We’ll just wait to see where the dust will settle.” In any event, he added, “Our lawyers know we will match and exceed market.”

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