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Texas associates and counsel at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld recently received a big raise as the 900-lawyer firm joined a number of other large Texas firms by adopting a higher associate salary scale. “The market has clearly changed, and we have always been competitive in each of our markets, and we are committed to staying competitive and to continue to recruit and retain the best lawyers,” says Daniel Micciche, a partner in Dallas who is on the firm’s associate and counsel compensation committee. The raises, announced Wednesday, are retroactive to March 1. First-year associates in the Austin, Dallas and Houston offices of the firm will earn a base salary of $135,000, plus a $5,000 guaranteed bonus. According to the new base salary scale for the Dallas-based firm, a second-year-associate will be paid a $145,000 base, and a third-year associate will earn $150,000. The base for a fourth-year associate is $160,000; $170,000 for a fifth-year associate; $175,000 for a sixth-year associate; $180,000 for a seventh-year associate; $185,000 for an eighth-year associate; $190,000 for a ninth-year associate; and $195,000 for a 10th-year and above associate. The scale also includes new base salaries for “counsel.” Micciche says associates are eligible for promotion to counsel after they have been at the firm for five-and-a-half years — an indication an associate is on the partnership track. According to the new scale, the base salary for a sixth-year counsel is $180,000; $185,000 for a seventh-year counsel; $190,000 for an eighth-year counsel; $195,000 for a ninth-year counsel; and $200,000 for a 10th-year and above counsel. The firm will continue to award bonuses to associates and counsel on a merit-based system, Micciche says. He says the yearly merit bonuses, which range up to $50,000, are based in part on billable hours but also on other factors, including excellence of work product, efficiency, supervisory skill, involvement in training and mentoring, pro bono work, recruiting, teamwork and business development. “It appeared from the press reports that the other firms had adopted a purely mechanical system based on billable hours. We didn’t think that kind of system was better than the system we have in place,” Micciche says. Micciche also notes that counsel who are with the firm for six years are paid a one-time, $60,000 longevity bonus. Micciche says the firm earlier this year, in response to the market, increased salary scales for associates and counsel working in offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., and California.

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