Here we go again. In early June, Cravath, Swaine & Moore announced that it was increasing starting salaries for associates from $160,000 to $180,000, the first material hike in almost a decade. (The last time law firms made significant changes to the associate compensation scale was in 2007, and before that it was 1999.) Predictably, Cravath’s move triggered similar raises with firms announcing matching compensation scales.
As the legal market continues to evolve, the consequences of the pay increases remain unsettled, including their impact on minimum billable hour requirements. Whatever actions law firms take, it is critically important that they preserve and protect their commitment to pro bono. We have lessons learned from past experiences to draw on to ensure that the financial and psychological aspects of salary escalations do not negatively impact the pro bono culture and performance that so many firms have worked diligently to develop.
Interested in learning more about what the salary hikes mean for law firm pro bono? Check out our recent edition of The Pro Bono Wire and tune in to our podcast, The Pro Bono Happy Hour, to listen to a special episode about Salary “Wars”.
As with all other aspects of law firm pro bono practice and administration, Pro Bono Institute’s Law Firm Pro Bono Project is available to provide assistance to firms addressing the challenges to pro bono presented by these developments. Please contact us, if we could be of help.