Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
The Legal Intelligencer After looking at the market conditions and discussing integration plans post-merger, Drinker Biddle & Reath has decided to move up the start date for its first-year associate salary increases. The firm originally planned to pay its first-years $135,000, effective Sept. 1, 2007, but has now made the increase effective March 1 for the Philadelphia, New Jersey, Chicago and Wilmington, Del., offices. First-year associates in the New York, California and Washington, D.C., offices will now earn $145,000, effective March 1. The Philadelphia, New Jersey, Chicago and Wilmington offices will also be moved up to $145,000, effective Sept. 1, Managing Partner Andrew C. Kassner said. “We all know that recruiting is extremely competitive, and it’s important to us that we really do attract the top legal talent,” Kassner said. In 2006, Drinker Biddle increased its starting salary to $125,000. The firm’s merger partner, Gardner Carton & Douglas, had also paid its Chicago first-year associates $125,000 prior to the merger. Associate compensation for Drinker Biddle’s Albany and Milwaukee offices will be handled on a case-by-case basis, Kassner said, because there are so few associates in each office. He said subsequent associate levels will also receive an increase, but may not follow a lock-step system. He said there would be less compression this year, however, which is an issue “each firm has to face at some point.” Drinker Biddle’s increase follows Wolf Block Schorr & Solis-Cohen’s jump last week from $125,000 to $135,000 in the Philadelphia area. Wolf Block also bumped up its starting salary for the New York office to $145,000 from $130,000. Duane Morris, Blank Rome and DLA Piper have each raised associate salaries in Philadelphia to $135,000 retroactive to Jan. 1. Morgan Lewis & Bockius and Dechert increased Philadelphia starting salaries to $145,000. Dechert went up to $160,000 in New York. Ward Bower of Altman Weil said the salary increases are due, in large part, to an imbalance in the supply and demand of law school graduates. He said the AmLaw 200 firms are, on average, going to bring in 50 new associates each this year, or 10,000 total. Bower said there are about 40,000 law school graduates each year, and only a small pool of those are the top-tier students that the top firms say they are looking to hire. Bower said the recent salary increases will “have the predictable ripple effect.” In the foreseeable future, Bower said, the New York firms would move well beyond the $160,000 starting salary many implemented this year. The rapid rise in salary is going to create new tiers of law firms, he said, where the highest-paying New York firms will get the top talent and other firms will realize they can’t continue to match the market leaders. “In order to follow the leader, they’re going to reduce their profits per equity partner significantly,” Bower said. Firms’ unwillingness to drop partner profits, coupled with client concerns over salary increases, will eventually create firm tiers nationally and by market in terms of compensation, he said. Cozen O’Connor has said this year that it has no present intention of increasing starting salaries from $125,000. “We think our starting-level salaries are exactly where they should be,” Cozen O’Connor Chairman Stephen A. Cozen said. “We also think, to a certain extent, [raising salaries] is a disservice to our clients.” Cozen said firms are “kidding themselves” if they think salary increases aren’t having a negative affect on clients. When a base salary changes, he said, all other levels of compensation change and that, in turn, has to cause rates to increase. Cozen O’Connor removed all of its lock step and limited bonus structures last year to move toward a more merit-based compensation program, Cozen said. Bonuses can range from $10,000 to $25,000 for associates, he said. The idea that firms need to raise salaries to get the best talent is a philosophy Cozen said he doesn’t follow. “Top talent comes to you for a whole variety of reasons, only one of which is the starting salary,” he said. Cozen questioned how much of the top talent that a firm gets as a first-year associate is still with that firm as a third- or fourth-year associate. “As a third- or fourth-year, they’re probably over at Cozen O’Connor,” he said. “And that’s where we want them.” Frank D’Amore of Attorney Career Catalysts said Drinker Biddle’s announcement that it will raise salaries again in September may actually help with retention because attorneys at all levels know they will be getting a raise in a few months. It will also help, he said, with recruitment. The summer associates – who are probably already selected – will have a clear understanding of where they would stand if they chose to take an offer from Drinker Biddle, he said. While most firms institute raises in January, D’Amore said Drinker Biddle would have an advantage for fall recruiting given that the raises are effective in September.

This content has been archived. It is available through our partners, LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law.

To view this content, please continue to their sites.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Not a Bloomberg Law Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law are third party online distributors of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law customers are able to access and use ALM's content, including content from the National Law Journal, The American Lawyer, Legaltech News, The New York Law Journal, and Corporate Counsel, as well as other sources of legal information.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]


ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2021 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.