Westlaw News

Pandemic widens associate pay gaps as some firms offer extra while others cut back

For associates choosing between Big Law firms before 2020, compensation was predictable - few firms dared to opt out of accepted market salary and bonus rates, making factors like culture stand out more, said Michelle Fivel, a partner at legal recruiting firm Major, Lindsey & Africa.

But the pandemic’s varied economic impacts on law firms could change that, she said, as an evolving mix of pay cuts and bonuses makes associate compensation more stratified. That continued this week when firms that never announced pay cuts earlier in the crisis pledged to give associates extra bonuses this year, ranging from up to $7,500 at Cooley, up to $40,000 at Davis, Polk & Wardwell and even more at Milbank.

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