Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Photo: Thomas Phillips/ALM

When upper-echelon law firms raised their starting pay for first-year associates this spring to $190,000, the soaring salary hit a record for the industry. Right? Are new associates really making more, or are firms simply keeping pace with inflation? What exactly is behind the upward trend?

A New York Times article from April 18, 1986, reports that the venerable Cravath, Swaine & Moore, often the firm that leads on giving rookie raises, paid salaries of $65,000 for fresh blood. (That was a new high at the time, and it came as the result of a $12,000 increase from $53,000.) Adjusted for inflation, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics’ online calculator, that $65,000 in 1986 dollars comes to $150,582.14 in 2018 dollars. Vice-versa, a salary of $190,000 in 2018 is like a salary in 1986 of $82,015.04.

This content has been archived. It is available through our partners, LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law.

To view this content, please continue to their sites.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Not a Bloomberg Law Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law are third party online distributors of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law customers are able to access and use ALM's content, including content from the National Law Journal, The American Lawyer, Legaltech News, The New York Law Journal, and Corporate Counsel, as well as other sources of legal information.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]

Thomas Phillips

Thomas Phillips is part of the social media team at ALM Media.

More from this author

Dig Deeper

Reprints & Licensing
Mentioned in a Law.com story?

License our industry-leading legal content to extend your thought leadership and build your brand.


ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2021 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.