Big Law Associate Pay Stagnates as Partner Profit Soars

Feb. 13, 2020, 12:27 PM

First-year associates at firms following the so-called “Cravath scale” made $205,000 last year. How does that stack up to those fresh-faced lawyers’ wages a decade ago? Not that well when adjusted for inflation.

Recession: Adjusted for inflation, first-year salaries are down nearly 20% since pre-recession highs and up a mere 4% since 2010, according to data from biglawinvestor.com. Meanwhile, partner profits at many firms have soared past inflation rates.

Management: “Most compensation systems will highly value the business generator—the rainmaker,” said Michelle Fivel, a partner at Major Lindsey & Africa who recruits associates for law firms. Roy Strom has more ...

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