DLA Piper hikes US associate pay by 10% in return to pre-recession rates

DLA Piper is raising US associate pay by 10% in a move that will return salaries to pre-downturn levels, reports The National Law Journal.

A memo released to lawyers on Thursday (15 April) announced mid-year pay increases in the firm’s US offices outside of New York. DLA raised salaries in New York in January to pre-recession levels of $160,000 (£104,000) for first-year associates.

DLA’s US managing partner Terry O’Malley said that the increase was primarily intended to help retain mid-level associates, adding that the job market did not demand that the firm raise starting pay, but that it had decided to implement raises for all associates instead of doing so piecemeal.

“We realise the value proposition [of the increase] is strongest with experienced associates,” O’Malley said. “With respect to new associates, I think you could make the case to do something differently. We thought it was better to return to levels across the board.”

The adjustment will reinstate starting salaries for first-year associates of $160,000 in the firm’s major US markets and of $145,000 (£94,000) in secondary markets such as Phoenix, Tampa and Sacramento.

In June 2009, the firm reduced associate salaries by about 10% in conjunction with the announcement that it was launching a merit-based compensation model.

The adjustment will increase associates’ monthly base compensation and variable compensation, pro-rated for the rest of the year, according to the memo written by DLA’s global board chairman Francis Burch, joint CEO Lee Miller and O’Malley.

DLA Piper joins other large firms to have adjusted associate pay to reflect improved business, including Latham & Watkins, Linklaters and K&L Gates.

The National Law Journal is a US sister title of Legal Week.