Associate Salaries, Biglaw, California, Gunderson Dettmer, Money, Silicon Valley

Nationwide Pay Raise Watch: West Coast Action

We recently reported on Wilson Sonsini restoring associate base salaries to pre-recession levels. Wilson Sonsini associates in five major offices — New York, Palo Alto, San Diego, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. — are now paid on what might be called the New York market scale or the $160K scale (a scale I’ve committed to memory: 160/170/185/210/230/265).

In our story, we quoted a WSGR associate who viewed the firm’s raise as a response to salary hikes by two Silicon Valley peer firms, Cooley and Gunderson Dettmer. At the time of our story, however, Cooley and Gunderson had not raised SV associate salaries to NYC market levels.

UPDATE: To be precise, Cooley had announced a raise at the time of the WSGR memo, but the raise had not yet taken effect. Gunderson did not announce until yesterday.

Let’s learn more….

According to The Recorder, Cooley recently raised associate base salaries, so that a fourth-year associate earns $210,000 (up from $185,000). An ATL tipster confirmed the firm’s move to the $160K scale:

[Cooley recently sent out a memo] expressly stating that they had decided to not pay spring bonuses, but would bump-up to market rate as of May 1st. New pay structure: $160, $170, $185, $210, $230, $250, $265, $280, $290.

That is pretty much the standard NYC scale (although the scale at many firms stops at $280K, with pay above that level being individually negotiated).

Meanwhile, Gunderson has gotten in on the fun as well. Associates at Gunderson “will now draw the standard pay scale in New York, where associate salaries at big firms start at $160,000,” according to the WSJ Law Blog.

In addition, as noted over at the ABA Journal, lateral hiring and in-house hiring in Silicon Valley are up significantly as well. The pay raises presumably represent an attempt by firms to prevent their associates from leaving for greener pastures.

Congratulations to the Cooley and Gunderson associates on their pay raises. It’s nice to belong to the “$160K Club” (as long as your firms can afford it).

P.S. Speaking of Cooley, we extend our condolences to the relatives, friends and colleagues of former Cooley partner and legendary tax law scholar James Eustice, who passed away late last month.

In Valley, Associates Are Once Again in Demand [The Recorder]
Silicon Valley Law Firms Hire More Associates and Hike Their Salaries [ABA Journal]
West Coast Firms Boosting Associate Pay [WSJ Law Blog]
Death of Jim Eustice [TaxProf Blog]

Earlier: Associate Salary Watch: Wilson Sonsini Restores Pay to Pre-Freeze Scale

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