After igniting a round of major associate pay increases early this month, only to be upstaged by even higher raises at Cravath, Swaine & Moore a few days later, Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy has opted to meet Big Law’s new top-of-the market standard.
On Tuesday Milbank finally responded to Cravath’s one-upmanship, confirming it will match the pay scale that Cravath has established for associates at the most profitable U.S. law firms.
New York litigation boutique Selendy & Gay and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, two law firms that initially matched Milbank, also have joined the growing list of big firms that have already decided to adopt the Cravath scale.
Milbank was first out of the gate on this season’s pay increases when it announced on June 4 that it would be increasing its associate salaries across the board by $10,000 or $15,000, making $190,000 the new benchmark for first-year associates.
But on June 11, Cravath announced that it would pay as much as $10,000 more than Milbank for its midlevel and senior talent.
Since then, more than 20 Am Law 100 firms have adopted Cravath’s increased pay scale and summer bonuses, ranging from $5,000 for first-year associates to $25,000 for its senior associates.
Milbank said Tuesday that it will now do the same for all associates “in good standing at the firm.” A source close to Simpson Thacher said that firm will do the same.
Selendy & Gay also announced this week that it would be matching the new salary scale set by Cravath.
The high-powered litigation boutique, founded by a group of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan lawyers led by partners Faith Gay and Philippe Selendy, was one of the first boutique firms to boost its base salary for its associates. Since then, several elite litigation boutiques have moved to match Milbank’s and Cravath’s salary increases, including Holwell Shuster & Goldberg; Hueston Hennigan, Irell & Manella and Kaplan & Co.
“We hire spectacular associates who do superb work for our clients,” said Selendy & Gay co-founder and managing partner David Elsberg in a statement. “It’s important to us that their compensation reflects their great talents and enormous contributions to the firm.”
Proskauer Rose and Winston & Strawn did not respond to requests for comment on any plans they may have to match Cravath.
Cooley; Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson; Gunderson Dettmer Stough Villeneuve Franklin & Hachigian; Vinson & Elkins; and White & Case all announced this week that they would be increasing their associate salary to match Cravath.