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Law firms are off to a great start in the new millennium if they want to emulate major league baseball owners. In the last two weeks, Big Silicon Valley and San Francisco firms have rushed into a steeply escalating salary war that threatens to spread across the country. Menlo Park’s Gunderson Dettmer jumped first, before the new year, elevating first year salaries to $125,000 with a guaranteed bonus of $20,000 and another $5,000 for … well … good behavior. By mid-January, Silicon Valley stalwarts Cooley Godward, Wilson Sonsini, and Gray Cary had matched Gunderson leap for leap. By the end of the month, another dozen Bay Area firms and a few New York firms’ west coast outposts had jumped into the compensation abyss.

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