Which firms REALLY matched the Cravath scale?

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Many associates were fortunate to see their salaries raised in line with the new Cravath scale this summer.  Many other firms raised salaries, but didn’t fully match Cravath. 

For your convenience, we’ve listed in one place all the Vault 100 firms (and a few boutiques) that matched the Cravath scale, the firms that came close to matching, and the firms that fell short. Full details on the status of each firm’s raises are in a chart at the bottom of the post.

The Winner: Wachtell has its own way of paying associates above market, but only one firm publicly bested the Cravath scale: Desmarais. Desmarais, an IP litigation boutique, now pays its 1st year associates $200k and its 8th year associates $335k ($20k more than Cravath).

Full Matches: A full match to the Cravath scale in our book starts at $180k for first years, and rises to either $300k for 7th years or $315k for 8th years in all U.S. offices.

The firms that matched were, naturally, the most profitable firms in the country. Of the 30 Vault firms boasting at least $2M in profits per partner (PPP), 27 (90%) are known to have matched the Cravath scale in all U.S. offices. Of 31 firms with PPP between $1.5 and $2M, 21 (68%) matched Cravath; of 29 firms with PPP between $1 and 1.49M, 11 (38%) matched Cravath; and of 22 firms with less than $1M in profits per partner, only one firm (Ashurst) fully matched Cravath (5%). 

Close Matches: Many firms matched Cravath in major markets, but either a) gave smaller raises to associates in smaller markets; or b) did not match the Cravath scale for their senior associates.

Fell short:  Many firms wanted to give their associates raises and stay competitive for recruiting purposes, even if they didn’t have the same profits as Cravath and its peers. Many of these firms raised 1st year salaries to $180k but gave smaller raises to mid-level and senior associates, or left midlevel/senior associate raises ‘to be determined’. Some firms delayed raises until October or Q1 2017. Others gave associates raises but let them know that bonuses would be affected. And some firms tied raises to associates’ billables and performance reviews.

Lastly, we want to point out that 23 boutique firms raised salaries and smartly got the word out to the market. They are listed in the full chart below (scroll to the bottom). 

Source: Above The Law