As the full-scale talent wars of 2021 and early 2022 become isolated skirmishes—thanks to declining demand in major practices spurred by a cooling, inflationary global economy—associates, counsels and junior partners are starting to notice a shift in their status in the market. Recruiters are backing off, signing bonuses are going away, retention bonuses failed to materialize at most firms this summer, and firms’ overall competitiveness is subsiding in noticeable ways.

“It is interesting that a few more firms have raised NQ [newly qualified lawyers’] compensation but others haven’t gone up in response as quickly as they used to. Maybe that signals something,” said an associate at a U.S. firm in London. “But right now, it’s all about the juniors …the balance is still with associates. Big push on our well-being. Frankly, we get paid a lot more money than we should.”