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Cravath Tops Rival Davis Polk’s Associate Pay Scale, Up to $415k

Feb. 28, 2022, 9:48 PM

Cravath Swaine & Moore is raising its salary scale for midlevel and senior associates, the latest move in an ongoing pay war among some of the world’s richest law firms.

The Wall Street firm, which has historically been the leader in associate compensation, announced its new scale on Monday in a memorandum first reported by Above the Law. The memo was sent by presiding partner Faiza Saeed, managing partner of Cravath’s corporate department George Zobitz and litigation department managing partner Karin DeMasi.

Cravath’s most senior associates will see annual pay rise to $415,000, an increase of $18,500 over the scale previously announced by Davis Polk & Wardwell.

Cravath’s new scale follows the previously announced scales instituted by Milbank and Davis Polk for first-, second-, and third-year associates. It surpasses Davis Polk’s scale for its midlevel and senior associates, starting with fourth-years, who can now expect to make $295,000 a year, up from $293,500 under Davis Polk’s scale.

The salary increases are retroactive to January 1, the memo stated.

Cravath’s salary increases come as law firms jockey for top associate talent amid heightened demand for their services.

Milbank was the first to increase associate salaries this year with a new scale ranging $215,000 for first-year associates, up from $205,000, to $385,000 for its most senior talent. Davis Polk matched Milbank’s scale for its junior talent, but increased the salaries for its midlevel and senior talent over Milbank’s scale by 3%.

Since Davis Polk announced its changes Feb. 23, many of the nation’s top law firms were quick to match their scale, including Kirkland & Ellis, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison and others.

VIDEO: Big Law’s Big Paychecks: Partner Compensation, Explained

To contact the reporter on this story: Meghan Tribe in New York at mtribe@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com