As certain as the swallows return to Capistrano, there seems to be talk each Spring of the latest high-water-mark in starting pay for associates at large law firms in major US cities.
Commentators with more discipline have enlightened takes. Bruce MacEwen covers the firm financial side, noting the economic forces at work. Mr. MacEwen notes the recent WSJ op-ed by Cameron Stracher, who questions (temp link) whether the interests of associates and BigLaw partners are aligned. Professor Ribstein wonders why clients don’t act to lower fees.
I’d rather respond in three parts. Tomorrow, a thought about one reason for the high starting salaries; Thursday will feature a result of this unique form of bracket creep. Heck, last week I thought the high water mark was $135,000. Then Mr. Stracher calls it $145,000. $150,000? Do I hear $150,000? Anyone? Anyone?
But today I’ll end with a question. Why is this news? Why don’t we hear what new MBAs make at Fortune 50 companies? Or new residents at major research hospitals? Or new CPAs at the Big Four (or however many there are left this week)?
Do the major legal publications torture managing partners to extract this information? It’s sort of unseemly. Guess how much my new Mercedes convertible cost! Guess how much my new IWC watch cost! Guess how much my new associate cost!
(We of course know it’s not about price-fixing.)
But remember that this is the US of A, and as long as the invisible hand is working, it’s all good.