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New Set of Law Firms Match Davis Polk Associate Salaries (4)

June 16, 2021, 3:30 PMUpdated: June 16, 2021, 7:38 PM

Six more law firms have joined the growing group matching the associate salary scale announced by Davis Polk & Wardwell last week, as high-end firms continue to increase pay for sought-after associates.

According to a Bloomberg Law analysis, nearly 20 major law firms have so far matched the new pay scale announced by Davis Polk, which ranges from $202,500 for the class of 2021 and $205,000 for the class of 2020, up to $365,000 for the most senior associates.

The latest firms to announce associate pay on this scale include Ropes & Gray, which confirmed its associate salary raises Wednesday.

Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom is also upping its salaries for associates in line with the new scale, effective July 1. The firm told associates in a memo viewed by Bloomberg Law that it would be reducing the tenure required for promotion to counsel from 7.5 years to 6.5 years as a way to “underscore our appreciation for your tremendous efforts and as part of our ongoing commitment to your career development and advancement.”

A memo sent to lawyers at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld on Wednesday morning and viewed by Bloomberg Law said the firm will raise its salaries to the new Davis Polk scale July 1 as well, in a change that applies to associates and counsel in the firm’s U.S., London, and Hong Kong offices. Senior counsel and associates beyond the class of 2013 will get pay raises to be announced later in the summer, the memo said.

Mayer Brown has also confirmed it is matching Davis Polk’s salaries as of the beginning of July. Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati confirmed that it will be matching Davis Polk’s scale for its associates and of counsel in the U.S., U.K, Hong Kong and China. The $202,500 first-year rate will apply to its current class of summer associates and its incoming fall class later this year.

Selendy & Gay, the boutique litigation firm that spun off from Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan in 2018, also said it would match Davis Polk in a memo Wednesday.

Davis Polk announced its new salary scale on Friday, a day after Milbank said that it would be raising salaries for its first-year associates to $200,000, up from $190,000, and $355,000 for its most senior associates, up from $340,000. That was the first across-the-board raise Big Law associates had gotten since 2018.

The new salary increases come amid a hyper competitive market for associate talent, particularly in the corporate space, that has seen Big Law firms turn to special bonuses, as well as signing and retention bonuses, to keep and recruit young lawyers.

In the days that have followed Davis Polk’s announcement, several Big Law firms have announced that they too would match the new scale.

O’Melveny & Myers and Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman said on Tuesday they would be increasing their associate salaries. Vinson & Elkins, Boies Schiller & Flexner, Gunderson Dettmer, McDermott Will & Emery, Baker McKenzie, Dechert, Proskauer Rose, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft, and Lowenstein Sandler have also announced that they would be matching the Davis Polk scale.

Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo as well as Winston & Strawn, have said they would match Milbank’s salary scale since it was announced last week.

(Updates with information on Selendy & Gay salaries in snapshot, paragraphs one and seven. )

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

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebekah Mintzer at rmintzer@bloomberglaw.com; Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com

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