Lawyer Pay

Will fewer BigLaw firms match Milbank’s new pay hike for associates? At least 10 firms are on board

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Several BigLaw firms have matched Milbank’s new higher pay scale for associates, but there could be some that are unable to keep up, according to legal consultants who spoke with Reuters.

Milbank announced last week that it is raising associate pay by $10,000 to $20,000, depending on class year. That puts the salary range at $215,000 to $385,000.

Many law firms are still absorbing pay increases that took effect last year, said Kristin Stark, a principal at law firm consultancy Fairfax Associates, who spoke with Reuters. She thinks that most of the 200 top-grossing firms will increase pay, but some will offer hikes that are lower than the Milbank scale.

Last year, associate compensation increased 11.3% at 171 large and midsize law firms, according to Reuters, citing a report by the Thomson Reuters Institute and the Georgetown University Law Center’s Center on Ethics and the Legal Profession.

But there is a gap in profitability between top- and lower-grossing law firms, according to Reuters. Wells Fargo Private Bank’s Legal Specialty Group has projected that the nation’s 50 highest-grossing law firms will see a 17% increase in revenue, while lower-ranked firms will see a 10% increase.

Here is Milbank’s new pay scale, as first reported by Above the Law:

• Class of 2021: $215,000 (up from $205,000)

• Class of 2020: $225,000 (up from $215,000)

• Class of 2019: $250,000 (up from $240,000)

• Class of 2018: $285,000 (up from $275,000)

• Class of 2017: $325,000 (up from $305,000)

• Class of 2016: $350,000 (up from $330,000)

• Class of 2015: $370,000 (up from $350,000)

• Class of 2014 and beyond: $385,000 (up from $365,000)

Above the Law has been keeping track of law firms that are matching the new Milbank scale. Reuters and also reported on some of the firms that are matching pay. As of Wednesday morning, they included:

Baker McKenzie

Boies Schiller Flexner

Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft

DLA Piper

Duval & Stachenfeld

Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson

Goodwin Procter

Hueston Hennigan

Irell & Manella

McDermott Will & Emery

McKool Smith

Steptoe & Johnson

Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr

Loeb & Loeb, meanwhile, announced associate pay increases, but they are below Milbank’s level. Associates will be paid between $205,000 and $340,000.

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