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McKee Nelson said Friday that it has raised pay for first-year associates in its D.C. and New York offices to $160,000, matching raises made by firms earlier this week — and in doing so setting a new bar for D.C. firms. “It is always our mission not to lose someone because of money,” says William Nelson, co-founder and managing partner of McKee. The move comes a day after both O’Melveny & Myers and Hogan & Hartson raised salaries for their D.C. starting associates to $145,000. McKee, with about 60 associates in the District, according to the 2006 Legal Times 150, is the first D.C.-based firm to move up to $160,000. Before the pay hike, the firm was paying first-year associates $145,000. The associate salary wars began this week when New York firm Simpson Thacher & Bartlett announced it would increase its first-year associate salaries after a stellar financial year. So far, most D.C.-based firms are staying quiet about whether they’ll follow. But that may change. Last year, California-based O’Melveny and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher bumped up associate pay, and D.C. firms soon followed.
Nathan Carlile can be contacted at [email protected].

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