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Two more Philadelphia law firms have decided to raise starting salaries to $115,000 annually. Buchanan Ingersoll and Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young announced their decisions in the past week, making it 12 firms that have raised their wages for first-year entry-level associates in the past several months. Buchanan Ingersoll had been paying $105,000 a year to new associates, but Philadelphia office managing partner Howard Scher said the market shift made the firm rethink its situation. “We have clients who want first-class legal representation, so we have to compete for the best people,” Scher said. “While I don’t think that $5,000 or $10,000 should be the basis for making a career decision, it is for people at that stage of their careers. So we hope this shows law students that Buchanan Ingersoll is a first-class firm.” Buchanan Ingersoll initiated the raises to $115,000 immediately in its Philadelphia, New York, Washington, D.C., and Wilmington offices but all other offices — including its Pittsburgh home base — will pay $110,000. Scher said the firm will pay for the raises from its partner profits and not through increasing associate billable hours requirements or billable rates for clients. Scher also said the firm wanted to avoid “compression” in pay differences among associate classes, so it also increased salaries for experienced associates. When asked if those increases matched the $10,000 hike for first-years, Scher said he was not certain but that there would be a discernable difference between the salary levels for each class. At Stradley Ronon, new managing partner Jeffrey Lutsky announced the increases Friday to the firm’s associates. The 140-attorney Stradley Ronon has traditionally lingered behind other large firms when it comes to salary. Its starting salary had previously been set at $102,000, slightly below the old standard of $105,000. Lutsky declined to reveal the firm’s profits per equity partner or revenue per lawyer but did say they were competitive with those of the firms that now pay their associates $115,000. So he said it only seemed natural to pay its associates that kind of money. “Traditionally, we have been behind the other firms with associate salaries but we are competitive financially,” Lutsky said. “We’ve been competing successfully for top talent for years but when the market moved, we just wanted to enhance our competitiveness in recruiting law students and retaining and attracting associates. We are coming off our third tremendously successful year and we hope this demonstrates that fact.” Like Buchanan Ingersoll, Stradley Ronon plans to foot the bill for the raises — which kick in immediately — by dipping into partner profits. Lutsky said all associates will receive raises, but those at the lower rungs will receive larger increases. He said the firm is giving senior associates expanded opportunities for merit raises and bonuses, which are rewarded through billable hours and business generation. Lutsky said Stradley Ronon will not increase billable hour requirements — 1,900 hours for junior associates and 1,850 for senior associates. He said the firm will increase its summer associate program from six law students to a class of nine. The latest round of starting salary increases began in the fall, when six firms — Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll, Blank Rome, Duane Morris, Pepper Hamilton, Reed Smith and Wolf Block Schorr & Solis-Cohen — raised their salaries to $115,000, and Cozen O’Connor moved up to $110,000. Dechert and Morgan Lewis & Bockius had already established a starting salary of $125,000 two years ago while Drinker Biddle & Reath moved to $115,000 soon after. Two more Philadelphia law firms — Hangley Aronchick Segal & Pudlin and Saul Ewing — joined the parade in December. Meanwhile, Fox Rothschild raised its starting salary from $100,000 to $110,000.

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