Associate Salaries, Biglaw, Money, Schiff Hardin, Summer Associates

Nationwide Pay Raise Watch: Schiff Hardin (Plus offer rate news.)

In case you haven’t noticed, things have been quiet on the law firm front. And that shouldn’t come as a surprise: it’s August.

Summer associate programs are largely over (although we still want to hear about fun events and offer rates). Many associates and partners are taking vacation (especially if they have children they want to spend time with before school starts again).

On the litigation side, courts are slow because many judges are away. On the corporate side, some deals have been put on hold due to the gyrating stock market and economic uncertainty. We seem to be turning into Europe, where a good chunk of the population takes vacation for a good chunk of August.

But we still have pockets of law firm news to report, here and there. Today’s dispatch comes from Schiff Hardin, which earlier this month announced an associate pay raise….

For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, Schiff Hardin is a well-regarded Biglaw firm — Am Law 200, NLJ 250 — with seven offices around the country, and several hundred lawyers. Its origins date back to Chicago in 1864. Schiff Hardin’s lawyers have racked up many accolades, and the firm has been recognized for its commitment to diversity and to LGBT equality.

Okay, let’s cut to the compensation chase. Last week, the firm’s flagship Chicago office announced a raise in associate salaries, effective September 1. We heard about the news from various tipsters, then confirmed it with a firm spokesperson.

The prior Schiff Hardin salary scale — based on a three-tier system, not lockstep by class year — looked like this:

  • Junior associates: $145K
  • Mid-level associates: $165K
  • Senior associates: $190K

The new scale, effective September 1, will look like this:

  • Junior associates: $160K
  • Mid-level associates: $180K
  • Senior associates: $200K

Dark clouds might be gathering over the economy, but it’s nice to see at least one firm express confidence in its future by investing in its talent.

We also inquired about summer associate offer rates (a topic several sources raised with us). Here’s what we learned from the firm:

2011 Summer Program Offers
All Offices: 9 of 12 received offers
Chicago: 5 of 8
New York: 2 of 2
San Francisco: 2 of 2

For Chicago, five out of eight generates a 62.5 percent offer rate. It’s well short of 100 percent — but with a program that small, no-offering one or two associates results in a big percentage decrease.

It’s also fairly consistent with the firm’s prior offer rates (so Schiff Hardin summer associates knew the odds they were facing going in). Here are last year’s stats:

2010 Summer Program Offers
All Offices: 11 of 13 received offers
Chicago: 6 of 8
New York: 3 of 3
San Francisco: 2 of 2

And that, in a nutshell, is what’s going on at Schiff Hardin.

Yes, it’s August — a dead time in the law firm world. But if you have interesting news about your firm that you’d like us to investigate — partner infighting, imminent practice-group departures, changes to associate compensation, discontent among the support staff — please email us, at, or text us, at 646-820-8477 (646-820-TIPS). Thanks, as always.

Earlier: ATL Summer Associate Event Contest: Which Firm Had the Best Event of 2011?
Summer Associate Offer Rates: An Update

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