Morris Manning & Martin and Bondurant Mixson & Elmore are the latest firms in Atlanta to respond to the national wave of associate pay raises that New York firm Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy kicked off at the beginning of June.
Both firms have increased starting pay for first-year associates by $10,000 to $165,000 in Atlanta. Morris Manning, an Am Law 200 firm, and Bondurant, an elite litigation boutique, have historically been among the Atlanta-based firms that have matched when there’s been a national round of pay raises.
King & Spalding triggered the Atlanta pay increases at the end of June, when it matched the new Milbank scale in its New York, Washington, Chicago, Texas and California offices. That scale similarly featured a $10,000 bump in starting salary to $190,000 with boosts up the line so that eighth-years at firms that have adopted it now make $340,000.
King & Spalding set a new pay scale for Atlanta associates, ranging from the $10,000 increase to $165,000 for first-years to a $25,000 increase to $265,000 for eighth-years.
Alston & Bird and Eversheds Sutherland quickly followed, matching for all their offices, including their Atlanta headquarters, effective July 1.
Other national firms with Atlanta offices, including Jones Day, Paul Hastings and DLA Piper, have also matched the pay increases, as first reported by Above the Law. But plenty of large firms with a local office, Atlanta-based and otherwise, are still in wait-and-see mode.
Morris Manning is raising pay by $10,000 across the board for its first- through eighth-year associates, said the firm’s managing partner Louise Wells, who added that it “will make further adjustments at year-end to remain competitive.” The firm is raising starting pay in its Washington office to $175,000.
“We are doing this so we can continue to attract top talent,” Wells said. “Without top talent, we can’t be a top law firm.”
Morris Manning announced the news to associates on Monday, Wells said, and the raises went into effect Aug. 1.
Bondurant will also raise associate pay across the board, but the details are still being finalized, a representative said. The raises will go into effect Sept. 1.
The new round of increases are a big bump to the existing Atlanta scale of $155,000 to $240,000 for first- to eighth-years that took effect at big firms locally two years ago, after another national round of pay raises. That round, initiated by New York firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore, hiked starting pay by $20,000. The 2016 raises were the first across-the-board raises since 2007.
Morris Manning and Bondurant matched the new top starting salary for Atlanta associates just as on-campus recruiting kicks off for next year’s summer associate classes.
According to data reported by the firms to NALP, Morris Manning plans to hire nine first-years in Atlanta this fall. Bondurant is adding three. King & Spalding reported that it plans to add 26 first-years while Alston & Bird plans to add 19 at their Atlanta headquarters.