Wilson Sonsini flies in the face of Valley pay hikes

Top Technology firm revolts against salary war; NY firms yet to respond

Silicon Valley giant Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati has vowed to stand firm in the face of a new salary war and not increase its assistants’ wages.

Rival firm Brobeck Phleger & Harrison announced across-the-board pay hikes of $10,000 (£6,790) last week, closely followed by local rival Gray Cary Ware & Freidenrich (The Lawyer, 22 January).

Wilson Sonsini says there is no need for more increases. Managing director for member compensation Steve Schatz says: “I think there are a lot of factors, and for many associates, given our entire package, we’re more than competitive.

“We believe we’re the leading firm in the area. We provide wonderful opportunities, a terrific client base and we think that the rational choice for young lawyers who have the opportunity, is to choose us.”

He says the firm does not have a recruitment problem, but declines to comment on when it will next review the salary situation.

Brobeck has upped first-year base salaries from $125,000 (£84,880) to $135,000 (£93,000), with bonuses linked to billable hours adding another possible $35,000 (£24,000).

The refusal by Wilson Sonsini will signal the way for other Bay Area firms such as Cooley Godward and Morrison & Foerster to back out of a new salary war.

The salary increases, though, are starting to hit New York, with the announcement that Pillsbury Winthrop – a recent link-up of San Francisco’s Pillsbury Madison & Sutro and New York firm Winthrop Stimson Putnam & Roberts – is matching Brobeck’s hikes.

Pillsbury Winthrop has around double Brobeck’s 85 lawyers in the City, but other New York firms are yet to respond to the increases.