Milbank law firm salary for first-year associate raised to $190,000

Some lines of work pay more than others. While Americans have largely seen lackluster wage growth during the past year, the roughly 500 associates laboring at Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy just drew a large bump in pay, putting the law firm at the top of the legal heap in terms of salaries paid to attorneys just starting out.

A spokesperson for the 690-lawyer firm confirmed that it is hiking associate salaries by $10,000 to $15,000, bringing a first-year associate's salary to $190,000. A second-year associate at the firm will now make $200,000, while an eight-year associate will pull in $330,000. 

The prior high mark had been set two years ago by Cravath, Swaine & Moore, which upped starting pay by $20,000 to $180,000, an industry standard that was quickly matched by Milbank and multiple other firms.

"Two years have now gone by, and there is cost-of-living increases and inflation," Scott Edelman, chairman of Milbank, said in an interview with the American Lawyer. The firm wanted to "set fair, market-leading compensation," he added.

The pay hike at one of New York's most prestigious litigators would not have a "material impact" on its finances, Edelman noted, telling the industry publication: "if we didn't do this at some point" another firm would.

The law firm's gross revenue increased 7.1 percent to $916.5 million in 2016, according to the American Lawyer.