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Houston’s Porter & Hedges and Dallas-based Jenkens & Gilchrist each have increased associate pay, following the lead set by a number of other large Texas firms. Both firms are responding to a new, higher BigTex market rate that began to develop March 8, when Houston-based Vinson & Elkins announced a new, higher salary scale. “When your people are your most important asset, you�ve got to do what you believe is necessary to attract and retain your people. So this is where the market is moving, and we believed this is an investment worth making,” says Jenkens shareholder Patrick Mitchell of Dallas, a member of the firm’s board of directors. The 275-lawyer Jenkens announced a new Texas associate salary scale March 27 that will pay a first-year lawyer a base salary of $140,000. The firm is working on a bonus scale, Mitchell says. The rest of the new Jenkens Texas salary scale � the firm has offices in Dallas, Austin, Houston and San Antonio — calls for a second-year associate to be paid a $145,000 base salary, and a third-year to be paid a $150,000 base. It’s a $160,000 base for a fourth-year, $170,000 for a fifth-year, $180,000 for a sixth-year, $185,000 for a seventh-year and $190,000 for an eighth-year associate. The new base salary scale at Jenkens will be effective on April 1. That’s in contrast to the 90-lawyer Porter & Hedges, located in Houston, where the new associate salary scale is retroactive to Jan. 1. The new pay for a first-year associate increased to a $135,000 base pay plus up to $5,000 in bonus, says chairman William Porter. Going up the salary scale, a second-year will be paid a base of $145,000 and earn up to $10,000 in bonus; a third-year will get a $150,000 base plus up to $20,000 in bonus; it’s a $160,000 base and up to $25,000 bonus for fourth-years; a $165,000 base for fifth-years plus up to $45,000 in bonus, and a $170,000 base and up to $50,000 in bonus for sixth-year associates, Porter says. For other associates, Porter says, the firm launched a different program. The higher-level associates will not be grouped in classes, but instead the firm will “start ranking them fresh” and place them into new groups. “Those [groups] will have separate pay and bonus potential, which we aren’t publishing,” Porter says, noting that the earnings potential for the veteran associates is equal to or in excess of what associates can earn at other BigTex firms that have already announced new, higher salary scales. At Baker Botts, for instance, an eighth-year associate who bills more than 2,300 hours can earn up to $240,000 in salary and bonus. Porter says Porter & Hedges associates will have to bill 2,050 hours to qualify for any bonus. He says the firm hasn’t set a specific hourly target for associates to bill to earn the maximum bonus. Porter & Hedges has 50 associates, Porter says. Porter says associates will receive the new higher salaries with their April 1 paycheck, but the retroactive portion of the raises won’t be paid until the summer. The firm’s associates learned details of their new salary schedules last week, he says. Porter says Porter & Hedges raised the salary scale to keep associates from jumping ship for more money. “We’re in a business where all the assets go home every night, and, you know, we want to keep our assets,” he says. In the weeks since V&E took the plunge and raised its associate salaries, a number of large Texas firms have either announced new pay scales or announced that they will do so. Jenkens associates outside of Texas — the firm has offices in Chicago, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and Pasadena, Calif. — will be paid a higher base salary, according to a separate new salary scale the firm announced on March 27. The new base for first-year associates outside Texas is $140,000, and the base for second-year associates is $145,000. The base salary for a third-year is $155,000, and it’s $170,000 for a fourth-year, $185,000 for a fifth-year, $195,000 for a sixth-year, $210,000 for a seventh-year and $215,000 for an eighth-year associate.

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