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Bingham McCutchen’s decision to bump associates’ starting salary in its Hartford, Conn., office to $125,000 apparently will have little or no effect on first-year pay at the state’s largest locally based firms. They just don’t see themselves in the same league as the 850-attorney behemoth. Thomas P. Flynn, a member of the management committee at Hartford-based Shipman & Goodwin, said his firm most likely would raise the starting salary for its incoming class of attorneys to $90,000. That would match what Day, Berry & Howard and Robinson & Cole pay their first-year associates in Hartford. “That’s more in response to what we see as our peer firms,” instead of what Bingham McCutchen is doing, said Flynn. When the final salaries are determined, Shipman first-years in Stamford will continue to earn at least $10,000 more in base pay than its new J.D.s in Hartford, Flynn said. That would put the firm $5,000 behind Day, Berry & Howard’s first-year associates in Stamford. Robinson & Cole pays new lawyers $100,000 in annual base pay in its Stamford and Boston offices. Hartford-based Murtha Cullina is also among the firms not being driven by Bingham McCutchen’s compensation. “We’re not going to $125,000,” hiring partner Hugh F. Murray said with a laugh. “They’re in a different market honestly.” He said Murtha will pay first-year attorneys $85,000 starting in the fall. Currently, its first-year associates earn a base wage of $80,000. There is no differentiation in pay among Murtha’s offices, Murray said. Frank Appicelli, Bingham’s hiring partner in Hartford, said the raise was made to bring first-year associates in the office in line with what their counterparts are earning firmwide. The five Bingham first-year associates in Hartford previously made $110,000, still $20,000 higher than associates at other large Hartford law firms. “This is a stronger recognition that the attorneys in Hartford work on all of the same matters substantially across the nation or the globe,” Appicelli said. “They’re doing the same work. They ought to be paid the same.” The firm, he added, will no longer have cost-of-living differentials among its offices. “We attract law students from across the country. We don’t want them to be penalized for accepting an offer in Hartford,” he said. First-year associates at Day, Berry & Howard’s Boston office are on the same salary footing as their Bingham counterparts at base salaries of $125,000. However, the difference becomes substantial in the Hartford market where Day, Berry pays $90,000. James Sicilian, DBH’s executive committee chairman, said compensation is reviewed annually. “We looked at it as we do every year as part of our annual budget cycle,” he said. First-year associates in Stamford earn $105,000. First-year associates in New York also make $125,000, he said.

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