Highest Starting Salaries Are $160,000: Business of Law

The highest starting salaries at the largest U.S. firms with more than 700 lawyers remain unchanged at $160,000, according to the National Association of Law Placement’s 2014 survey of associate compensation.

The figure can be misleading, since the placement organization found that only 27 percent of offices responding to the survey paid their new associates that amount. In contrast, in 2009, NALP found that almost two-thirds of large law firms reported $160,000 as a starting salary.

The drop in percentage doesn’t reflect a decline in compensation. The disparity stems from income differences in regional offices of larger firms. Associates in regional offices often earn less than their counterparts in larger, more expensive cities.

“In the simplest terms, it is fair to say that law firm starting salaries are flat,” James Leipold, NALP’s executive director, said in a statement. “The fact that the incidence of $160,000 as the starting salary at the largest law firms is less than it was before the recession is really more a reflection of the changing contours of the large firm market.”

Because of many law firm combinations, the legal market is more heterogeneous than it was in 2009, and the apparent drop in starting salaries results from regional offices of large firms, which often pay young associates less.

The survey found “that the overall national median first-year salary at firms of all sizes was $125,000, unchanged since 2012. Medians ranged from $68,000 in firms of 2-25 lawyers to $160,000 in firms of 251-500. In larger firms of 501-700 the median was $125,000, as it has been since 2012. In the largest firms of 701+ lawyers the median was $135,000, after standing at $160,000 in all but one of the prior six years.”

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Deals

Simpson Thacher, Weil Gotshal Work on Blackstone-PJT Deal

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP represented longtime client Blackstone Group LP in its deal to combine its advisory group with PJT Partners, a firm created by Paul J. Taubman in 2013. Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP advised PJT.

M&A partners Eric Swedenburg and Josh Bonnie led the Simpson Thacher team. Also from Simpson were Greg Grogan, executive compensation and employee benefits; and John Hart and Gary Mandel, tax.

The Weil team was led by corporate partners Barry Wolf and Michael Aiello and included partners Howard Chatzinoff and Shukie Grossman, both corporate; Kenneth Heitner and Stanley Ramsay, tax; Michael Nissan, executive compensation; and David Wohl, regulatory.

The new company will compete with advisory firms like Evercore Partners Inc. and Moelis & Co. Taubman, who founded PJT after three decades with Morgan Stanley, will head the new company, according to a statement Oct. 10 from New York-based Blackstone.

Taubman, along with employees of PJT and the Blackstone unit, will own 35 percent of the new boutique. Blackstone’s current shareholders will own the rest.

Blackstone is separating the division, which advises on mergers and corporate restructurings, and also includes fund-services business Park Hill Group, to reduce conflicts of interest with its money-management business. The firm oversees almost $300 billion across private equity, credit, real estate and hedge funds, about three times what it managed at the end of 2009.

Firm Moves

Baker Donelson Adds Four Lawyers in Its Houston Office

Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz PC has added a team of four health-care attorneys -- Ivan Wood Jr., Stuart Miller, Marissa Weitzner Arreola and Matthew Maruca -- in Houston. All previously practiced at Strasburger & Price.

Miller, who joins as a shareholder, represents health-care providers in corporate and regulatory matters, including joint ventures, mergers and acquisitions, entity formation and private-placement securities offerings. Also joining as a shareholder, Arreola represents large hospital networks, individual hospitals and physicians in transactions and regulatory matters.

Wood, who joins as senior counsel, represents clients in the health-care industry in a range of transactions. Maruca, joining as an associate, has experience with negotiating and drafting a range of agreements and leases.

Moses & Singer Adds New White-Collar and Health-Care Partner

Lauren Mack has joined Moses & Singer LLP as a partner in the firm’s white-collar criminal defense and government investigations and health-care litigation practice groups. She has a broad range of experience in criminal investigations, litigation and health-care fraud and abuse.

Before joining Moses & Singer, Mack was an executive district attorney in Brooklyn, New York. During her 25-year tenure in that office, Mack was responsible for recovering more than $10 million on fraudulent claims and assessing over 2,000 allegations of fraud totaling more than $18 million in alleged fraudulent claims, the firm said in a statement.

Scharf Banks Marmor Adds Employment Lawyer Stillman in Chicago

Nina Stillman has joined Scharf Banks Marmor LLC as a partner. With 13 lawyers, Scharf Banks Marmor is Chicago’s largest women-owned firm.

Stillman was most recently senior counsel in the Chicago office of Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP, where she specialized in labor and employment, particularly in issues such as equal employment. She successfully represented corporations and institutions in large employment class actions and individual employment, restrictive covenants, and health and safety-related cases, the firm said in a statement.

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