The first move goes to Andrews & Kurth. The 251-lawyer Houston-based firm announced Feb. 23 it is raising its associate base salaries by 20 percent across the board in all U.S. offices, effective Feb. 16. That boosts the base salary for a first-year lawyer at Andrews & Kurth’s Texas offices to $104,000 from $86,000. Associates salaries have been moving to stratospheric levels across the country since early January when Silicon Valley firm Gunderson Dettmer Stough Villeneuve Franklin & Hachigian hiked starting pay for its first-year lawyers to a guaranteed $145,000. While the avalanche of higher salaries has rolled across the Silicon Valley and into Los Angeles, New York, Washington, D.C., and other big cities, major Texas firms have been playing the wait-and-see game.
Not anymore. Andrews & Kurth’s decision to move associate salaries solidly into the six-figure range, even for wet-behind-the-ears lawyers, will certainly reverberate through the Texas market. While a number of large Texas-based firms have associate salaries on the table, and salaries for associates working at the Texas offices of out-of-state firms have gone up in recent weeks, Andrews & Kurth is the first large Texas-based firm to make a move in the post-Gunderson era.
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