Washington Wrap is a weekly look at the biggest legal industry news and Big Law moves shaping the legal business in Washington, D.C. Send tips and lateral moves to Ryan Lovelace at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s a season of blooming Big Law salaries, with more and more firms gritting their teeth and adopting the ritzy new associate pay scales that Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy and Cravath, Swaine & Moore announced earlier this month.
The firms that have matched so far have a few things in common. For one, they’re all profitable enough to be able to absorb—hopefully—compensation starting at $190,000 a year for a first-year associate.
But at least thus far, while many of the matching firms have Washington offices, none of them is based here in D.C.
Will any homegrown firms join the starting salary arms race for Big Law associates, or even up the ante?
If any major D.C. law firm does try to show up its New York rivals, it may be Williams & Connolly. The litigation powerhouse raised its starting salary to $200,000 in 2015 from a base of $180,000 that it implemented in 2008. Rumors aside, the last associate raises made public at Williams & Connolly came after a similar dash to throw cash at young associates across Big Law spurred on by Davis Polk & Wardwell, but before the last cycle of raises launched by Cravath in 2016.
Williams & Connolly declined to talk about its current compensation scheme or plans to change it, but earlier this year the firm publicly expressed a desire to “stay steady” in terms of base pay for associates and its lack of bonuses.
For now, the firms with D.C. offices that have already boosted salaries include Proskauer Rose; Debevoise & Plimpton; Winston & Strawn; Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison; Sullivan & Cromwell; Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan; Davis Polk & Wardwell; Willkie Farr & Gallagher; Weil, Gotshal & Manges; Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom; Kirkland & Ellis; Clifford Chance; Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton; Cahill Gordon & Reindel; Goodwin Procter; and Ropes & Gray. [Hat tip to Above the Law for its running list. For the latest ALM coverage of the salary circus, click here.]
Law Firm Moves, News & Notes:
Christopher Man is joining Winston & Strawn as partner from Norton Rose Fulbright in Washington, D.C. Man’s work at Winston will focus on civil litigation, white-collar criminal litigation, and governmental and internal investigations.
He previously worked closely with Abbe David Lowell, who made the move from Norton Rose Fulbright to Winston last month. Both men have counseled Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, and Lowell praised Man in a statement touting their nearly 15 years of work together.
Since the outset of 2017, Man’s other prominent representations have included Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter, for whom Man served as ethics counsel helping to file financial disclosures, and U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, whom Man helped to fight off criminal charges.
Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher poached Richard Parker, a top antitrust lawyer, from O’Melveny & Myers.
Parker co-chaired the antitrust and competition practice at O’Melveny, which scored a blockbuster victory against the Justice Department on behalf of AT&T in the Time Warner merger controversy earlier this week.
Parker, who wasn’t directly involved in the AT&T challenge, helped build O’Melveny’s strong antitrust reputation in Washington. He said he expects to continue tackling merger clearance matters and civil government investigative work at Gibson Dunn.
After more than eight years at Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer, where he worked most recently as an associate, José Antonio Rivas joined Vannin Capital and is setting up the firm’s Washington, D.C., operation.
Vannin Capital is a legal finance provider that supports law firms and corporations to resolve commercial disputes. Having opened for business in 2010, Vannin Capital has workers in London, Paris, Sydney, New York and located elsewhere around the globe.
Rivas said the opportunity to “conquer” a new market in Washington for Vannin Capital was a “tremendous incentive” in his decision to make the move from Arnold & Porter.
As Vannin Capital added Rivas in Washington, it also hired Alexandra Dosman to bolster its New York footprint. She most recently worked as the executive director of the New York International Arbitration Center, a nonprofit focused on international arbitration based in the Big Apple.
Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld hired Carrie Marker away from Dechert to become Akin Gump’s inaugural director of counseling and planning.
An Akin Gump representative said Marker will reside in New York and begin visiting the firm’s offices nationwide this summer. Marker will focus on behavioral coaching, career counseling, and integration planning, and is part of Akin Gump’s lawyer retention effort.
Earlier this year, Akin Gump revealed its effort to prioritize its lawyers’ mental and emotional wellness starting at its offices in Washington with the addition of an on-site behavioral assistance counselor.
Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that Carrie Marker is based in New York, not Washington.