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CHICAGO — Baker & McKenzie and Jenner & Block have joined the Chicago associate pay raise parade, boosting wages for first-year lawyers in the Midwest city to $160,000. The increases by the two firms, which have major offices in Chicago, follow prior boosts by Kirkland & Ellis, Sidley Austin, Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw, DLA Piper and other major firms that began in May. The firms typically increase salaries for their more senior associates at the same time. The Chicago boost to $160,000 from $145,000 followed an increase to first-year associates in New York and California. While the big cities in those states have often given lawyers a cost-of-living premium, that has evened out with Chicago for now. The increases came on top of salaries climbing to $145,000 from $135,000 in February. Compensation for the junior lawyers is climbing as competition to hire top law school graduates becomes fiercer. While law firms are growing, law school classes have remained about the same. Demand in Chicago has also been stoked by an influx of national firms in recent years looking to fill up new offices in the city.

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