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Baker McKenzie Matches Associate Salaries Starting at $215,000

Jan. 24, 2022, 5:44 PM

Baker McKenzie, one of the world’s largest law firms by headcount, is matching a new associate salary scale as firms ramp up their competition for talent in a tight market.

The move, retroactive to Jan. 1, adds $10,000 to $20,000 in pay for lawyers with between one and eight years of experience. The raises bring salaries to $215,000 for first-year associates and $385,000 for eight-year veterans, according to a memo from the Chicago-headquarterd firm obtained by Bloomberg Law.

Big Law firms are expected to report a record year in 2021, driven by a boom in corporate dealmaking and financings. Baker McKenzie brought in $3.1 billion in revenue during its latest fiscal year, which ran through June. Revenue rose nearly 8% while profits were up more than 36%.

Milbank LLP kicked off the latest round of salary increases last week, with firm chairman Scott Edelman calling the bumps a reaction to a strong financial performance and a recognition of the work junior lawyers have done.

Firms that said they’d match the new scale include Goodwin Procter, Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft, McDermott Will & Emery and Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson.

Associates at Big Law firms last year received record bonuses of as much as $115,000 or more for the hardest-working lawyers. Still, firms are struggling to tamp down record attrition rates, with nearly one in four associates leaving firms each year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Roy Strom in Chicago at rstrom@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com; John Hughes at jhughes@bloombergindustry.com