The waiting game to match or one-up the associate pay scale continues to drag out, with some law firms quietly telling associates they will match the market scale whenever it has been finalized—meaning when other leading Big Law firms make their moves. Other firms, meanwhile, are plotting their own course, exposing some fragmentation in the industry.

“This is a little bit unusual for how long the dust is in the air as opposed to settling,” acknowledged William Hartnett, chairman of the executive committee at Cahill Gordon & Reindel, in an interview.