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Being a law firm manager in D.C. these days must feel something like a homeowner watching everyone in his neighborhood install a high-tech security system while you only have a bulldog. Every week a new gaggle of firms announce their intentions to raise associate pay. Just look at last week’s additions: Five firms — Latham & Watkins; Cooley Godward; Fenwick & West; DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary; and Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton — dragged first-year associates up the pay scale to the newly emerging baseline of $135,000. “This is a sign that the economy has settled down and the legal profession is getting ready to rock and roll with the economy,” says Margaret Kavalaris of Cooley’s D.C. office. Although the associate-salary frenzy is being driven by firms in California and New York, Washington is not immune to pressure from those legal shops, most of which have Beltway offices and recruit from the same pool of law school graduates.
Emma Schwartz can be contacted at [email protected].

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