The general counsel and chief compliance officer of a large logistics company made waves in 2018 when, in response to $10,000 to $15,000 raises for first year associates, he said, “If a law firm feels it necessary to pay first-year attorneys an extraordinary $190,000 to remain competitive, then that is their decision. Just don’t ask for me to pay for it.”

The scale has moved considerably higher since then. And clients are clearly willing to pay for it—begrudgingly or not. Associate compensation, from salaries to retention bonuses to other benefits, keeps rocketing higher. All bets are off when a deal has to get done.

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