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In the most recent round of the salary wars, the dominoes seemed to be falling at a more leisurely pace than usual — at least in D.C. But, with a few more area behemoths last week raising starting salaries to $160,000 for first-year associates, it’s unlikely that any major players will be able to delay matching much longer. The curfew bell hath rung. Last Tuesday, D.C. stalwart WilmerHale raised starting salaries for first-year associates to $160,000 in all of its domestic offices. “We’ve been watching the market develop over the last several weeks,” firm Co-chairman William Perlstein says. “The fact is that no single law firm can swing the market away from the direction in which it is otherwise going.” Arnold & Porter followed a few days later, announcing on Friday that it would match in its D.C., Northern Virginia, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Denver offices. “We want to be competitive in the markets in which we operate,” says Arnold & Porter Chairman Thomas Milch, noting though that no single factor led the firm to increase salaries when it did. The firms’ moves come two weeks after Hogan & Hartson and Akin Gump boosted first-year pay to $160,000 from $145,000 in their D.C. offices. Although more than 20 New York and California firms were already at that level before Hogan jumped on the $160,000 bandwagon, the firm was the first D.C. native to do so. Meanwhile, a number of out-of-town firms last week matched the $160,000 level in D.C., as well as in some of their other offices across the country, including Goodwin Procter, DLA Piper, Kirkland & Ellis, McDermott, Will & Emery, Mayer, Brown, Rowe, & Mawe, Sidley Austin, Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, and Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton. Wilmer, A&P and many of the other firms raising last week made their pay hikes effective June 1. Covington & Burling, Crowell & Moring, and Wiley Rein declined to comment about their intentions as of press time.
Alexia Garamfalvi can be contacted at [email protected].

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