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Starting Salaries for First Year Associates Rise to $145,000 - But How Many Will Stick Around Past Three Years?

The Friday edition of the New York Times featured an article reporting on the rise of starting base salaries for first year associates at the country's largest law firms to $145,000. The article shared how one firm, Sullivan & Cromwell, broke ranks and raised the first year base salary to $145,000, and all of the other major NYC law firms quickly followed suit. Of course, starting salary doesn't tell the whole compensation story since starting and year-end bonuses differ from firm to firm and could result in major differences in total compensation.

But what caught our eye was a photo of four young first year associates starting work at Weil Gotshal this fall. In the past, we have reported on statistics showing that, despite impressive salaries, 37% of associates leave their firm by the end of the third year (see here), and 55% don't expect to last longer than five years (see post here).

So we wonder - how many of those 4 hopeful Weil Gotshal associates in the New York Times photo will still be at Weil Gotshal in 3 years? in 5 years? We don't know but what raises a concern, aside from the surveys referenced above, is that two of the associates are already using what appear to be Blackberries, which as we've noted in a prior post, can become addictive and pretty much destroy an attorney's work life balance by keeping them tethered to the office 24/7.

Will our heros succumb to the Blackberry fate of those who preceded them? Or will they rise above the billable hours to achieve a work life balance? Stay tuned.....

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