If there’s a positive thread to be gleaned from the pandemic, it is that associates are facing brighter futures and a far less volatile job market than that of young attorneys who stared down the 2009 financial crisis. And those at elite firms may even see their compensation boosted as firms look past survival and toward the talent war.

Those who were around a decade ago see fundamental differences not only in the tenor of the pandemic-induced recession, but also in how firms—many of which were scarred by lessons learned—are conducting themselves.