Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton has become the latest firm in California to match the New York scale for associate salaries. The 10-office, Los Angeles-based firm said first-years in California and Washington, D.C., will now earn $160,000, though the firm said it is moving the milestone for its hours bonus from 2,000 hours to 2,100 hours.

Guy Halgren, the firm’s managing partner, said the increased cost would come out of partner profits, rather than increased rates — at least in 2007. “We look at rates on an annual basis,” he said. The firm reported revenue per lawyer of $715,000 in 2006. Profits per partner were up 30 percent to $1,025,000, in part due to restructuring of the equity partner tier.

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