AS associate salaries in New York City continue their upward climb, firms face the difficult task of hiring the best and brightest at top dollar in a very competitive market.

The rise in associate salaries has been exponential – base salaries at the leading New York firms have gone from about $87,000 in 1997 to $107,000 for the class of 1999, an increase of 23 percent. Most firms pay associates a base salary plus a fixed or guaranteed bonus, and to top it off, a discretionary bonus that can be as much as 25 percent. Add benefits to that and it is not unusual for mid-level associates to be earning close to $200,000.