Biglaw firms across the country are eagerly announcing their Cravath matches in order to remain competitive during this white-hot lateral market for legal talent. As a reminder, the Cravath scale ranges from $215,000 for first-year associates to $415,000 for eighth-year associates and beyond. While many firms that had already matched the Milbank and Davis Polk scales are once again updating their salaries to match Cravath, firms that had yet to make salary moves at all are finally stepping forward to match Cravath. Other firms, however, seem to be ignoring that Cravath raised the stakes and have decided to match Davis Polk, days after it was no longer en vogue to do so.
That looks to be what’s happening at Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer, a top 50 firm according to the latest Am Law 100 ranking. Today, the firm announced that it would be matching the Davis Polk salary scale, which is less take-home compensation for associates than what’s offered under the Cravath scale — sometimes in the range of tens of thousands of dollars less. To say that associates aren’t happy would be an understatement.
This is what the Davis Polk salary scale looks like at Arnold & Porter:
“Arnold & Porter has apparently decided to match Davis Polk and NOT Cravath,” said one source of the firm’s raises. “Associates are furious. This is a total slap in the face.”
We always suspected that raises like this would divide Biglaw into compensation tiers, but we didn’t think it would happen this quickly. Are there any other firms out there that won’t be matching the Cravath salary scale? Which firm will be next to join Arnold & Porter in adopting a lower salary scale than the rest of Biglaw’s best?
(Flip to the next page to read the full memo from Arnold & Porter.)
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Staci Zaretsky is a senior editor at Above the Law, where she’s worked since 2011. She’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to email her with any tips, questions, comments, or critiques. You can follow her on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.
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