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Montgomery, McCracken, Walker & Rhoads will raise the starting salary for first-year associates to $125,000 effective Sept. 1. Chairman Stephen A. Madva said September is the usual time for the firm to evaluate its compensation structure, and “we need to stay competitive for the best and the brightest.” The $10,000 increase will be given throughout each of the Philadelphia-based firm’s offices, with the exception of the newly added West Chester, Pa., office, which Madva said is at a midyear point with the firm. The office became part of Montgomery McCracken through its merger with 11-lawyer Crawford Wilson & Ryan at the end of May. The firm has not decided how the increases will pan out for each of the subsequent associate levels, Madva said. “There will be some compression at the upper levels, but there will be nearly equal raises across,” he said. Montgomery McCracken is in a bit of a growth mode at the moment and has said that its latest merger with Crawford Wilson would probably not be the last. The firm is looking to grow to “comfortably over 200 attorneys,” Madva said during the last merger, adding that the 170-attorney firm currently has about 110 litigators and 60 attorneys on the business side. Most of the additions will be on the business and transactional side, he said, and would “ideally” come in the form of additional mergers. Montgomery McCracken joins a string of firms that have increased their starting salaries for this year. In June, Fox Rothschild followed a brief hiatus of firm salary increases that started in January when DLA Piper moved to $125,000 in Philadelphia. Fox Rothschild also moved to the $125,000 mark. Other firms that raised starting salaries to $125,000 in 2006 are Drinker Biddle & Reath; Wolf, Block, Schorr & Solis-Cohen; Duane Morris; Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll; Blank Rome; Pepper Hamilton; Saul Ewing; Buchanan Ingersoll; Cozen O’Connor; and Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis. Morgan, Lewis & Bockius and Dechert increased their starting salaries in Philadelphia to $135,000.

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