What do new lawyers gain? A 15-Year Retrospective 1994-2008 (NALP Bulletin, August 2009) — Two results are remarkable. First, the average starting salary of the law firm more than doubled from $50,000 to $125,000 over this period. This reflects wage growth in general, particularly in large firms, and a general increase in the share of employment in large firms where wage coverage is more comprehensive. Second, even though wage coverage for jobs in large firms is more comprehensive, comparisons between firm sizes are still valid, and it is true that wages in larger firms have increased the most in percentage terms, more than doubling over the period. Salaries of law firms were little changed from the previous year (press release, 8. September 2011) — Recent research by NALP shows that law firm salaries remained broadly unchanged in 2011 compared to 2010, with the $160,000 salary for first-year employees still prevalent in large companies in a number of markets. Cravath`s new scale follows previously announced scales introduced by Milbank and Davis Polk for first-, second- and third-year employees. It exceeds the Davis Polk scale for its middle and senior staff, starting in the fourth year, who can now expect to earn $295,000 a year, up from $293,500 less than the Davis Polk scale. How much do law firms pay new employees? A 14-Year Retrospective as Reported by Firms (NALP Bulletin, September 2009) — Over the past 14 years, law firms of all sizes have increased their salaries in the first year, with salaries more than doubling at the largest law firms. According to Zimmermann, compensation costs are rising faster than some companies` revenues.
Salaries for lawyers at major U.S. law firms have risen over the past year thanks to salary increases and bonuses. Many companies have struggled to keep up with customer demand for mergers and acquisitions and other services, leading to a war for talent. Cravath`s size has remained largely the same in large law firms, as these firms compete for the best law students from top law schools. When one company offers a higher salary, other companies tend to announce a raise soon after. The tables above show Biglaw`s current salary range, as well as historical changes in employee compensation and a comparison of Biglaw`s historical employee compensation to Cravath`s current scale on an inflation-adjusted basis. First-year partner salary increases at major law firms (May 22, 2019 press release) – The 2019 PNLA Associate Salary Survey shows that the average salary for the first year ended May 1, 2019 totaled $155,000 in January 2019, an increase of $20,000 (14.8%) over 2017, the year of the last previous survey. The rise comes just as Big Law announced its most successful earnings cycle in its history. Law firms with 251+ lawyers accounted for about 70% of the responses. How much do law firms pay new employees? A 14-Year Retrospective as Reported by Firms (NALP Bulletin, September 2009) — Over the past 14 years, law firms of all sizes have increased their salaries in the first year, with salaries more than doubling at the largest law firms. «That`s when they`re most likely to poach by another company or something else,» such as taking an internal job in a company`s legal department, she said. But not everyone plays in the same sandbox.
Take, for example, the world-class company Magic Circle Linklaters. The company wowed U.S. employees with a Davis Polk game on Feb. 24, and now, less than two weeks later, the company`s U.S. employees have received a brand new Tirave game. Wages in the largest companies continue to rise rapidly (press release of 14. September 2007) — According to the recently released 2007 NALP Associate Salary Survey, the median and actual salary of first-year employees in firms with 501+ lawyers increased to $145,000 as of April 1, 2007, up from $10,000 in just one year. The median starting salary for firms of all sizes was $113,000, a modest increase from the median of $105,000 in 2006 and largely due to growth at the top end of the scale. Milbank was the first to increase employee salaries this year with a new scale of $215,000 for first-year employees from $205,000 to $385,000 for its most experienced talent.
Davis Polk matched Milbank`s scale for promising talent, but increased the salaries of his average and older talent by 3% compared to Milbank`s scale. Milbank began the wage war in January, announcing a new scale that increased first-year employees` pay to $215,000 a year. Salaries for second-, third- and fourth-year employees increased by $10,000 below this scale, while middle and senior employees increased by $20,000 to $385,000 at the top end. In the days following Polk`s announcement, many large companies quickly followed suit. In the week following the announcement of Cravath`s new scale, at least 28 companies reached this benchmark. Of those firms, at least 16 are among the top 30 law firms in terms of profit per partner, according to American Lawyer`s 2020 figures. What do new law graduates gain when they enter private practice? Looking Back at 25 Years (NALP Bulletin, October 2018) — Just take a quick look at the chart below to see that starting salaries have increased much more in large law firms than in small firms. The difference is striking: while median salaries at the largest law firms (251+ lawyers) increased by 157%, the median at the smallest law firms didn`t even double. This gap has contributed to the development of the bimodal nature of wage distribution. A few weeks later, Polk outperformed the Milbank scale for fourth- to eighth-grade employees by 3 percent.