Written by Alyssa Walker

Good news for recent law grads looking to land an associate's position at a large, national firm. You may be able to pay back those loans sooner than you think.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that big law firms will increase their starting salaries to $190,000 per year for beginning associates. 

Why now? The increase in pay reflects the tough competition among top law firms for the best and brightest law graduates. 

In an article on Law.com, Milbank chairman Scott Edelman said, “What we’re trying to do is set fair, market-leading compensation for our associates. We’re not in a race with other firms, but at the same time, we thought this was an appropriate time for an increase, and we want our associates to know how much they’re valued.”

He said that the firm wants to applaud their human capital. He said, “Our people are our greatest assets. We’ve been working hard, we’ve been very busy. We’re committed to offering compensation at the top of the market.”

According to the report, Milbank, Tweed, Hadley, and McCloy, set the trend and explained that lawyers at Milbank will receive raises between 4.8 percent and 6.4 percent every year for eight years. Those at the top levels will make upwards of $330,000 per year. 

Cravath Swaine & Moore, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, Proskauer Rose and Winston & Strawn followed suit, with Simpson Thacher and Cravath handing out summer bonuses of between $5,000 and $25,000.

Edelman explained, "We want to signal to the market that we do want the best, and we’re willing to pay for the best, and we think after two years, an additional increase is appropriate.”

It's clear that Milbank wanted to set the trend. Edelman added, “We didn’t see the need to wait for somebody else to make an increase that we think is appropriate.”

Find out more about studying law. 

Alyssa Walker is a freelance writer, educator, and nonprofit consultant. She lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with her family.
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