After a number of anguished partner meetings — and fevered information exchange on Yahoo’s Greedy Associates chat boards — many of New York’s largest firms have settled on what first-year associate salaries will be for 2000. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, offering a base salary of $140,000, is standing above the crowd.

But for at least 27 big firms, including Davis Polk & Wardwell, Cravath, Swaine & Moore and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, a lower base salary of $125,000 has become the new standard.