Don’t you feel sorry for managing partners at the District’s top firms? Two months ago, they thought they had quieted associate demands when they raised starting pay above $100,000 – a figure that now seems quaint. Then a Silicon Valley firm opened a bicoastal war when it raised rookie compensation to $145,000. And now every day brings a new report of another firm raising salaries.

What’s a managing partner to do? If you raise salaries, you cut into partner profits. If you say no, other firms and in-house jobs will lure away your future stars.