Philly firms join New York associate pay war

The US East Coast associate pay war has spread from New York to Philadelphia, with the city’s leading firms all raising newly-qualified salaries.

Philadelphia-based national Saul Ewing increased first-year pay to $125,000 (£71,600) in all its offices bar Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, reflecting a $10,000 (£5,700) hike on all associate salaries.

The firm matches rival Philadelphia-based firm Pepper Hamilton’s decision this week to also raise starting salaries by $10,000, with Philadelphia first-years getting $125,000.

The raise applies to all the firm’s offices except Harrisburg and Detroit, where salaries were boosted only $7,000 (£4,000).

The firms follow the lead of Blank Rome, which announced on Thursday that it will boost first-year pay in Philadelphia from $115,000 (£66,000) to $125,000, as well as increasing first year salaries in New York and DC to $135,000 (£77,000).

DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary was the first firm to raise its salaries in Philadelphia (first revealed on www.thelawyer.com February 6) when it upped its starting salaries to $125,000 – making its associates then the highest-paid in town. Drinker Biddle & Reath immediately matched the figure that day.

Wolf Block Schorr & Solis-Cohen and Duane Morris then followed in mid-February only to be trumped by Morgan Lewis & Bockius the same day, which announced it was increasing Philadelphia starting salaries to $135,000. The firm also upped pay for its New York first years to $145,000 (£83,000). Dechert has matched Morgan’s $135,000 figure this week.