Americans show associates the money

It’s all kicking off in New York. Yesterday, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett cunningly stole a march on its Wall Street competitors by raising associate salaries by 10 per cent to $160,000. (That’s £81,000 in real money.)

As usual, the New York rises makes London associates – with upper starting salaries of a mere £55,000 – look like the poor cousins.

Simpson’s move has prompted a rapid and entirely predictable response by some of its competitors. The new salary ladders announced by Sullivan & Cromwell, Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison and Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft have an eerily familiar ring to them.

The three firms have announced identical salaries (not including bonuses) all the way up to eight-year associates.

And that’s where there’s a gap. Sullivan & Cromwell is pushing the boat out the most, with the class of 1998 on $310,000, or £156,000. Lawyers of the same vintage at Paul Weiss will trouser $290,000, or £146,000.

This can only mean one thing – average partner profits in New York are about to go up again. That’s not good news for London partners, who are desperately hoping that these moves stateside won’t trigger a rash of rises over here. Fingers crossed.

Meanwhile, in case you missed it, The Lawyer’s first podcast went live on Monday. Tune in for Linklaters‘ current managing partner Tony Angel’s thoughts on the meaning of partnership. It’s available at, or for those of you familiar with newfangled downloads, you can get it on iTunes.