The latest iteration of salary wars set off by Milbank and Davis, Polk & Wardwell may threaten the industry’s aims to diversify its ranks—or at least do little to combat diverse lawyer attrition—some experts say. But firms that can’t match have an opportunity to differentiate themselves in a way that could advance their diversity goals.

“There’s not an extra pot of gold sitting around at these firms to fund unexpected salary wars. Unless the money comes from the partners’ pockets, the only way to pay for associate increases is higher billing rates or more billable hours,” Caren Ulrich Stacy, founder and CEO of Diversity Lab, wrote in an email.