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Attorneys at Texas’ largest firms worked more pro bono hours in 2006 than the previous year, even as associates were presumably under more pressure to rack up billable hours because of big raises the firms gave them in 2006. Associate salary scales at large Texas-based firms are on the rise again � Houston-based Vinson & Elkins kicked off the market move on July 17 � which could put the crimp on big-firm commitment to pro bono work. However, managing partners at a number of large Texas-based firms and out-of-state firms with large Texas operations say the new, higher associate salaries won’t depress pro bono hours this year. In recent weeks, seven Texas-based firms � V&E, Andrews Kurth, Locke Liddell & Sapp, Thompson & Knight, Bracewell & Giuliani, Susman Godfrey and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld � have announced plans to boost first- and second-year associate salaries in Texas as of Aug. 1. [ See "Big Bucks, Some Whammies,"Texas Lawyer , July 23, 2007, page 4.] The firms increased salaries to a $160,000 base for first-year associates and $170,000 for second-years. That’s a big move from the $135,000 market first-year base salary large Texas firms instituted in January 2006. N. Scott Fletcher, a member of V&E’s pro bono committee, says the higher associate salaries will not affect pro bono hours, despite a requirement in the new pay scale that third-year associates and up bill at least 2,000 credit hours to earn their full raises; the 2,000 hours can include up to 150 pro bono hours. “We give them full credit for pro bono, up to 150 hours per year and have consistently given credit to people with more than 150 hours on major pro bono matters,” he says. V&E attorneys in Texas donated 20,830 pro bono hours during 2006, the same number of hours the firm provided in 2005, and 198 attorneys each donated more than 20 hours of pro bono, a 10 percent increase compared with the 180

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