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Top NY law firm boosting first-year pay

  Legal Business  -   POSTED: 2007/01/24 04:31

New York law firms may have to play catch up with Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, which just raised the annual base pay of first-year associates to $160,000 before bonus. The Manhattan firm's move comes less than a year after a similar round of increases bumped first-year salaries in the city to $145,000, after sitting at around $125,000 for five years. "The firm has been very busy and we expect the high level of activity to continue," executive committee chairman Philip Ruegger wrote in a memo. "We are proud of the results we are helping our clients achieve."

As in the past, when large firms like 700-lawyer Simpson Thatcher announce a salary hike, others are quick to follow. Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison matched Simpson Thacher's increase to $160,000 Tuesday afternoon. Last February's increase to $145,000 was first announced by Sullivan & Cromwell, and other firms wasted little time jumping on the bandwagon. Firms generally succumb to the pressure to match salaries to remain competitive in nabbing talent from a small pool of top law students.

Simpson Thacher's decision also comes after a pay increase at a number of California firms, which upped their first-year salaries to $145,000 from $135,000. New York firms may also follow Simpson Thacher's lead in an effort to maintain the Big Apple's status as the top market for associate pay.


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