More Firms Match Cravath Pay Scale

More Firms Match Cravath Pay Scale
Cravath, Swaine & Moore offices in New York. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

In a dramatic turn of events reminiscent of dominoes falling in succession, several top-tier law firms, including the notable McDermott Will & Emery LLP and Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison LLP, have swiftly aligned their associate salary scales to the benchmark set by the venerable Cravath Swaine & Moore LLP. This move, echoing through the legal corridors, reflects a seismic shift in the industry’s salary structure.

More Firms Match Cravath Pay Scale : A New Frontier in Legal Compensation

Paul Weiss has not only adopted Cravath’s model but has gone a step further, introducing an unprecedented pay tier for its eighth-year associates. Similarly, legal behemoths Baker McKenzie and Proskauer Rose LLP have hopped onto the lucrative bandwagon, mirroring Cravath’s scale in both salaries and year-end bonuses, a development unveiled in a memo made public by the legal blog Above the Law.

McDermott’s Strategic Move: Aiming Beyond Compensation

Aligning with this trend, McDermott confirmed its decision to match Cravath’s recently announced pay scale, a move that aligns with Milbank LLP’s earlier structure for junior associates but surpasses it for more seasoned lawyers. Ira Coleman, McDermott’s chair, emphasized in an internal memo, “Compensation is just one facet of our larger vision to be the premier career accelerator in our field.” The firm aims to cultivate a nurturing environment for career growth, emphasizing exceptional learning opportunities and a supportive culture.

More Firms Match Cravath Pay Scale : McDermott Ups the Ante

Effective January 1st, McDermott’s new salary scale will elevate the baseline for first-year associates to $225,000, scaling up to a staggering $420,000 for those in the class of 2017. The firm, however, remains tight-lipped about matching Cravath’s year-end bonuses, which are as generous as $105,000 for senior associates.

Paul Weiss Steps Up: Elevating the Associate Pay Game

Not to be outdone, Paul Weiss is also upping its salary game to align with Cravath’s newly set scale. Their eighth-year associates stand to earn a handsome $435,000. This adjustment comes alongside the firm’s plan to distribute year-end bonuses in line with Milbank’s recent announcement, further sweetening the pot for its attorneys with an additional discretionary bonus in early 2024.

Baker McKenzie and Proskauer Rose: Joining the High-Stakes Salary Poker

Echoing these moves, Baker McKenzie and Proskauer Rose have also recalibrated their salary scales, introducing tiers for their senior associates with the potential to earn up to $435,000. These firms are also offering substantial bonuses, with Baker McKenzie introducing an additional “premium bonus” for those surpassing their yearly billable targets.

More Firms Match Cravath Pay Scale : A Tectonic Shift in Legal Salaries

This cascade of salary adjustments, set in motion just a day after Cravath upstaged Milbank’s salary scale, signals a tectonic shift in the legal industry’s approach to compensation. While Cravath has historically been the bellwether in setting associate pay trends, recent years have seen firms like Milbank and Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP taking the lead, indicating a dynamic and competitive landscape in legal compensation.