New York’s finest respond to Simpson salary gauntlet

New York firms Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft, Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy, Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison and Sullivan & Cromwell have moved quickly to match Simpson Thacher & Bartlett in offering pay hikes across all associate levels.

Yesterday’s announcement from Simpson Thacher (see, 23 January), boosted first-year salary rates by over 10 per cent to $160,000 (£81,000) from what was the New York going-rate of $145,000 (£73,000), with the most senior associates garnering $290,000 (£147,000).

Sullivan’s chairman Rodgin Cohen in a memo to his associates: “The Firm is committed to rewarding our lawyers for their contributions to our continued success by maintaining compensation levels, including year-end bonuses, at the forefront of peer firm compensation.”

The percentage rise is slightly down on last year, when associates were offered a 16 per cent hike in base salary at most New York firms.

Today, Cadwalader, Milbank, Paul Weiss and Sullivan have all matched the first-year rate of $160,000 but there was some differences at the top end of the pay scale.

Senior associates at Sullivan can now enjoy a base salary of $310,000 (£157,000), dropping to $290,000 at Paul Weiss and finally $280,000 at Cadwalader and Milbank.

These base salaries are in adddition to bonuses that were largely kept static at most of the large New York firms, starting at $30,000 (£15,280) for first-years and rising to $65,000 (£33,110) for senior associates.

In 2006, it was Sullivan & Cromwell that sparked the associate pay war by hiking salaries by $20,000 to $145,000. Other New York firms quickly followed, including Paul Weiss and Simpson Thacher.