If you were a fourth-year associate at a firm on the Cravath scale in 2021, you would likely have brought home nearly $400,000 in total compensation, including multiple rounds of bonuses and a mid-year salary raise. That’s more than the average profit per equity partner figure at some Am Law Second Hundred firms in 2020.

These escalating wages for associates at elite firms are bound to have consequences on firms across the Am Law 200, regardless of whether they try to keep matching the market-setters. Nearly all law firms, legal industry consultants say, will face pressure to increase associate compensation, no matter their existing pay scale, but some will see opportunities to increase market share as a result of the rising wages.