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Wake Up Call: McDermott Matches Milbank’s Associate Pay Hike

Jan. 21, 2022, 1:45 PM

In today’s column, as Big Law firms battle for scarce associate talent to help handle a flood of deal work, a handful of firms have raised yearly associate pay by $10,000 to $20,000; another firm said it will pay its former lawyers $25,000 for associate recruiting tips that pan out; Washington lobby firms had record revenues in 2021.

  • Leading off, McDermott Will & Emery joined Cadwalader among Big Law firms matching Milbank’s latest pay hikes for associates, which range from $10,000 to $20,000 depending on class year. The raises, which come amid fierce competition for talent in the legal profession, push first-year associates’ pay up to $215,000 with pay for the most senior associates rising to $385,000. (Above the Law)
  • Meanwhile, Shearman & Sterling said it will pay former lawyers of the firm up to $25,000 for referrals that lead to hires of associates and counsel who have at least one year of experience. It’ll pay smaller amounts for referrals leading to hires of business services pros and staff. (Reuters)
  • As Big Law associate pay soars, a recent panel found that firms’ efforts to improve attorney and staff “well-being” and “autonomy” had more impact on burnout than pay levels. ( Big plaintiffs firms recruiting at elite law schools say students are looking beyond pay and asking about meaningful work assignments and collaborative work environments. (National Law Journal)

Lawyers, Law Firms

  • Leaders of Georgia’s state court system described challenges in efforts to help courts catch up with pandemic-related backlogs. (Daily Report Online)
  • Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck led all Washington lobbying firms last year with a record $56.3 million in lobbying revenue, up 14% from its 2020 level. In second place, Akin Gump reported $53.4 million in 2021 lobbying revenue, up 8% and also a record, this report says. (The Hill)
  • Reed Smith said Paris disputes partner Peter Rosher is taking over as head of its global arbitration practice from Miami-based partner José Astigarraga, who’s led it for the last five years; Sullivan & Cromwell has a new Washington office managing partner, litigation practice deputy Amanda Davidoff; DLA Piper announced several office and regional leadership changes. (DLA Piper)
  • U.K. elite firm Linklaters launched a practice innovation team aimed at improving efficiency and quality of client service. (Global Legal Post)

Laterals, Moves, In-house

  • Employment law firm Wigdor hired former New York federal prosecutor Laura Edidin, recently chief special counsel for ethics for ex-New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. She joins as of counsel; Morrison & Foerster hired former New York federal prosecutor Edward Imperatore, specializing in securities & commodities fraud, as a partner in its investigations and white collar defense group in New York; Miami-headquartered Akerman added white collar attorney and criminal trial specialist Bradley Henry as a partner in New York. He arrives from Michelman & Robinson, where he was chair of the white collar defense and investigations practice; Greenberg Traurig recruited former Securities and Exchange Commission regional director Daniel Wadley in Salt Lake City as shareholder; Alston & Bird added veteran trial partners David Meadows and Alexandra (Alex) Peurach in Atlanta. They join from Troutman Pepper. (
  • Holland & Knight poached renewable energy transaction and finance attorney Justin Boose from Troutman Pepper as a partner in Los Angeles and Portland. He’ll co-lead Holland & Knight’s renewable and alternative energy team, with partner Mark Kalpin. Lending and project finance partner Matthew Roberts is also coming over from Troutman Pepper in Atlanta; Manatt hired in-house life sciences attorney Rachel Sher, a former Food and Drug Administration senior policy analyst and House FDA counsel, as a partner in Washington; Paul Hastings’ life sciences consulting arm hired Deloitte veteran health-care strategist Dhara Satija in Washington as a director; Mastercard assistant general counsel Joe Halprin took a job as general counsel at Mobility Capital Finance, a Black-owned startup focused on closing the racial wealth cap. (Corporate Counsel)

Legal Education

  • Yale Law School appointed dean Heather Gerkin to a second five-year term after a difficult year for the school. (

To contact the correspondent on this story: Rick Mitchell in Paris at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chris Opfer in New York at; Darren Bowman at