Apparently the increase of many big firm starting associate salaries to $135,ooo wasn't enough. Now some firms have raised the stakes with a move to $145,000. The Wall Street Journal's Law Blog has a detailed scoop on the subject.
This is such bad news. First year associates already can't earn their pay. It's impossible. Their billing rates are too high, so their collection percentages are low. And there's this thing called mentoring which has gone by the wayside (see my previous posts on this here and here), so associates have to learn by the "sink or swim" method. Quality training and learning involves achieving a balance between being quick on the uptake (a fair expectation for high paid associates) and allowing associates to engage in sometimes time-intensive learning that cannot be billed but makes them better lawyers. That does not happen at many firms, although some do emphasize learning, much to their credit.
This latest pay hike will just make the vicious cycle worse if it ripples through the private law firm community. Higher pay will mean more pressure on associates. More pressure will mean less leeway to make mistakes. Less leeway means more pressure. And so on. Where does it end?