On the heels of announcements by Proskauer Rose, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett and Winston & Strawn, the fledgling but high-powered litigation boutique Selendy & Gay is the latest law firm to match the associate salary scale set by Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy early last week.
A group of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan lawyers led by partners Faith Gay and Philippe Selendy left to found Selendy & Gay just four months ago. It has been a messy divorce, with Quinn Emanuel founder John Quinn first accusing Gay of “ingratitude,” and the departing lawyers now battling their former firm over legal fees.
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The dispute, apparently, hasn’t hurt Selendy & Gay’s bottom line. On Monday the firm announced it will boost its base salaries for associates as a part of a commitment to giving them substantive work early in their careers, and paying them as well or better than other leading law firms.
“We are trying to enhance the value proposition for our associates in a variety of ways, [and] certainly as a part of that have committed to being at the top of the market in terms of compensation,” said Jennifer Selendy, one of the founders and managing partner of Selendy & Gay.
The firm’s new base salaries, effective July 2018, are:
- Class of 2018 — $190,000
- Class of 2017 — $190,000
- Class of 2016 — $200,000
- Class of 2015 — $220,000
- Class of 2014 — $250,000
- Class of 2013 — $275,000
- Class of 2012 — $295,000
- Class of 2011 — $315,000
- Class of 2010 — $330,000
Selendy acknowledged that one factor in raising salaries is to combat any notion that incoming associates would be sacrificing compensation in joining such a young firm.
Growth remains a key focus for the firm, which launched with 10 partners from Quinn Emanuel. Since then, the firm has grown to just over 20 attorneys based out of its office at 1290 Avenue of the Americas in Manhattan.
“We definitely want to be able to compete for top talent out of all the law schools, and we feel that we can do that with a leaner cost structure, without automatically increasing our rates to clients,” Selendy said.
Selendy noted that in the coming months the firm will welcome about 18 new lawyers, many from prestigious federal clerkships.
“We need [to get] staffing up quickly but also without compromising quality,” Selendy said. “That’s really our only concern.”
Quinn Emanuel, which has yet to publicly match the new Milbank salary scale that Selendy & Gay has adopted, could not immediately be reached for comment.