Vinson & Elkins, Gunderson Dettmer, and Boies Schiller Flexner are the latest firms to enter Big Law’s new associate salary race as the three announced they will bump starting salaries to above $200,000.
The firms confirmed Monday they will match the new scale announced on Friday by Davis Polk & Wardwell that raises its starting pay for associates in its 2021 class to $202,500 and $205,000 for last year’s 2020 class, up from $190,000. The firm also announced that it would be raising salaries to $365,000 for its most senior associates, up from $340,000.
Davis Polk’s announcement came a day after Milbank kicked off the salary race, announcing it would be bumping pay for its first-year associates to $200,000 and up to $355,000 for its most senior associates. Big Law associates have not seen an across-the-board salary raise since 2018, but firms are under pressure to reward and retain associates who have been working grueling hours in recent months.
The new salary scales at Vinson & Elkins, Gunderson Dettmer and Boies Schiller are all effective starting July 1, according to the firms. Gunderson Dettmer will also raise its pay scale for associates based in Singapore.
Several other firms have already announced salary changes in light of last week’s announcements from Milbank and Davis Polk.
McDermott Will & Emery, which previously matched Milbank’s scale, quickly bumped up its pay scale to match Davis Polk on Friday. Baker McKenzie, Dechert, Proskauer Rose, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, and Lowenstein Sandler also announced that they would match the new scale set by Davis Polk.
Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, and Winston & Strawn, have all matched Milbank’s salary scale since it was announced.
Vinson & Elkins also told U.S. lawyers and staff to prepare to “officially return to the office” Sept. 7. Chairman Mark Kelly and Managing Partner Scott Wulfe said in a firmwide memo that “the future of work at the Firm will be flexible,” but they did not say how often employees will be expected to come in when offices fully reopen.
“While we anticipate the majority of lawyers and staff to come back to the office, we will retain the flexibility that has always been a part of our culture, and will certainly be considerate of individual situations.”