Ten Biglaw Firms Match Cravath Salary Scale For Associates
September 22, 2022
The Cravath Scale, which sets the base salaries of associates at one of the largest law firms in the world, has been one of the most well-known and respected salaries in big law for over 100 years. It’s one of those things that doesn’t change year to year, and associates at Cravath have come to expect it won’t ever change.
#1: Simpson Thacher & Bartlett
Some law firms have a flat-rate salary system for associates and junior partners. The newest example is Simpson Thacher & Bartlett.
Effective January 1, 2018, the firm will set the compensation of all attorneys at a flat $280,000 per year, plus an annual bonus (performance-based) from 10% to 15%. The goal of this move is to help retain and attract talent by increasing flexibility in work arrangements and work/life balance.
#2: Davis Polk & Wardwell
– Davis Polk & Wardwell’s summer salary is $2,950 per week.
– DWP’s monthly full-time salary for associates is $26,180 for attorneys who are not living in New York City. This applies to associate attorneys with a minimum of one year of experience and at least 50 hours of billable time per month.
– Associates who live in New York City have a slightly higher minimum monthly full-time salary: $27,720. The same number of billable hours applies.
#3: Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton
Law firm salaries vary depending on where you work and the scope of the position.
A Forbes study found that the average salary for a general counsel at a big law firm is $850,000, which makes it one of the top-paying positions at a law firm. One notable exception is Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP (CGS&H). Entry-level associates at CGS&H get paid just as much as attorneys with ten years of experience:
$150,000 per year. The base starting salary ranges from $140,000 to $150,000 per year and varies according to experience. After being employed for two years or five quarters, whichever comes first Firms, attorneys receive an additional discretionary bonus not limited to 10% of their annual compensation.
#4: Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom
Based in New York City, Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP (Skadden) is the US’s fifth largest law firm with over 2000 attorneys in offices around the world. Skadden hires talented, bright, and ambitious people to help clients navigate global business and legal matters. Associates will receive their
full-time salary Firms between $178,000 and $235,000 along with bonuses averaging about $50,000 each year. Along with an excellent compensation package, Skadden offers associates a rich culture of diversity Firms, and inclusion and offers a broad range of opportunities for personal growth while partnering together to address society’s most pressing issues.
#5: Kirkland & Ellis
Kirkland & Ellis is another big law firm that has followed the trend of paying higher salaries. Along with the other firms on this list, Kirkland is one of the few that has participated in salary surveys and takes efforts to have salaries fair for both men and women. It is often ranked as one of the top five law firms for those looking to climb their way up in the legal world, making it a popular choice among attorneys.
The scale begins at $145,000 a year, which is almost $5,000 more than what first-year associates make at some of its competitors.
#6: Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe
Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP is among the best firms for legal education. A survey from Wall Street Journal reveals that on a scale of 1 to 10, Orrick was ranked 7.5 with 83% of their staff recommending it.
Moreover, 97% of its associates stated they would recommend the firm to others and 40% say they are very happy with their work at Orrick. Moreover,
it has been voted as the third best firm to work in by the Working Knowledge staff survey in 2010-2012 while 81% said they were very satisfied with their job in 2015. Furthermore, 50% said that they had opportunities for professional development and 31% believe there are opportunities for them to be recognized based on performance or rewarded based on merit at Orrick as well.
#7: Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison LLP
Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP: The 2008 merger between the New York-based Weil, Gotshal & Manges and the Los Angeles-based firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP created a mega law firm with 1,700 lawyers across nine offices. With nearly $1 billion in revenue in 2017,
Weil offers an annual base salary of $190K for first-year associates up to about $315K for those with six or more years of experience. The associate bonuses scale from $10K for first-year associates to a whopping $30K if you’ve been at the firm for more than a decade.
#8: Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP
Established in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1869, Morgan Lewis is a large law firm with nearly 700 attorneys. The firm’s broad areas of expertise include antitrust and competition law, copyright and trademark prosecution and litigation, merger control counseling, class action litigation, environmental law, energy, and natural resources enforcement, government investigations, and white-collar defense.
Notable practitioners have included John W. Griggs Jr., former Associate Deputy Attorney General; Kim A. Brownlee, Partner at Hogan Lovells US LLP; Morgan Prentice Senior Counsel at the FTC’s Office of General Counsel; Kathy Kincade Neely who served as Acting Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security for U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) from 2006 to 2008; Roy Weiss Director of Litigation for Bloomberg LP
#9. Sullivan & Cromwell LLP
Sullivan & Cromwell LLP is a New York City-based international law firm that consistently ranks as one of the most prestigious in the world. The firm operates globally, with approximately 1,200 lawyers in 16 offices around the world. It was founded by John R. S
Sullivan Firms and William H Firms. Cromwell on October 1, 1879, and currently has a working relationship with 10 additional firms worldwide. With offices in three U.S. cities and eight foreign countries,
S&C practices US law domestically and advises clients around the globe on matters such as tax controversy and restructuring, capital markets transactions, mergers and acquisitions, project finance, financial regulatory reform compliance, and private equity investing among other areas of practice.
#10 Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP
As a big law firm, Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP offers an associate salary with the potential to increase. It’s mandatory for attorneys at Milbank to get peer review reviews of their work annually. The firm prides itself on excellence in its work and in recognizing individuality among its attorneys.
*Photo of Co-Chairman Colin Day*
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