Large law firms rush to match Cravath’s salary hikes for associates

The Cravath, Swaine & Moore offices in Manhattan, New York City, U.S. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

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  • Cravath’s salary scale tops out at $415,000 for the associate class of 2014
  • Debevoise and Latham & Watkins add extra pay tier
  • Law firms have been moving quickly to match others on pay

(Reuters) – A slew of the largest U.S. law firms have said they will compensate mid-level and senior associates at the same salary rates set Monday by Cravath, Swaine & Moore, with at least two firms offering their most senior attorneys even more cash.

Debevoise & Plimpton and Latham & Watkins said in internal memos Tuesday they will match Cravath’s scale, which topped out at $415,000 for the associate class of 2014.

The firms will add an extra tier of $425,000 salaries for ninth year associates – or the associate class of 2013 – and senior.

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Other large firms, including McDermott Will & Emery, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison said in their own internal memos they would match Cravath.

Cravath’s scale for mid- and senior-level associates blew past the one set last week by Davis, Polk & Wardwell, which topped out at $396,500.

Law firms have used salary raises and bonuses as a recruiting tool amid stiff competition for attorneys, particularly for more seasoned associates who specialize in deal work.

Many large firms have been quickly matching their competitors’ associate salaries any time a new pay scale is announced. This is the third time in as many months McDermott, a large Chicago-founded firm, said it was matching another firm on associate pay.

“This continues to be an extraordinary period in our profession, with raises being fast and furious, but it underscores the incredible value that this cohort delivers every day,” McDermott chairman Ira Coleman said in an internal memo Tuesday.

Quinn Emanuel’s memo confirmed that its Cravath scale match applies to all U.S. associates. The firm said in December it would let all of its U.S. lawyers work from anywhere in the country indefinitely, a rare move in the industry.

(NOTE: Updated to include information on Latham & Watkins salary raise announcement.)

Read more:

Cravath leapfrogs rival firms’ pay, offering associates up to $415K

Deluge of law firms join Davis Polk pay-raise rush amid battle for associates

Davis Polk ups senior associate salaries in latest round of pay war

Associate raises are back. Will fewer law firms follow this time?

Quinn Emanuel tells U.S. lawyers they can work from anywhere, forever

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