Texas firms stayed out of the water initially, avoiding the rush of associate pay increases that began in December 2005 on the West Coast. In February, New York firms began diving in, with the announcement by Sullivan & Cromwell that it was raising first-year associate pay to $145,000.

By March, large Texas firms had jumped in, too. They began announcing associate pay scales that, for the most part, increased the first-year associate salary from $115,000 to $140,000 — a whopping 21.7 percent leap.