Throughout 2020, Big Law firms were said to be “cleaning house”: pushing out unproductive partners so they could pay top earners more and tidy up their expense sheet as the pandemic raged and business development costs promised to return in 2021.

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Yet the nonequity tier, long viewed as a common target in these efforts in part because of the fixed costs and salaries of an income partner, grew roughly 6% last year among the Am Law 100. Average nonequity compensation across the Am Law 100—the aggregate salaries of a firm’s income partner tier—jumped 9.2%, from $92.5 million to $101.1 million.

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