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Kathryn Cole, a 25-year-old who earned her J.D. last year from the University of Michigan Law School, accepted a position at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges in Silicon Valley. Her starting pay was $135,000, but before she even began working she got a $10,000 raise. Then in January, just a few months into the job, her salary went up another $15,000.

Cole, who grew up in rural South Carolina, said she makes more than both her parents combined. On learning about her salary hike, she headed to Cost Plus World Market and bought a new couch for $500. “It was off-white,” she said. “But having gotten that second raise, I spent the extra $60 for the dark green slipcover that I really wanted.”

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