Recent law associate salary hikes by large law firms like New York firms, Milbank and Cravath, have widen the gap with in-house law department salaries, especially in the coveted 4-year to 6-year range. Under the new salary scale, associates at law firms in their 4th through 6th years are making base salaries between $285,000 and $350,000, while their in-house counterparts’ salaries range from the upper $100,000s to low $200,000s at large legal departments. Further exacerbating the issue, remote and hybrid work schedules at law firms in response to Covid have blurred some of the lifestyle advantages for going in-house.
To lure top legal talent, in-house law departments should continue to focus on the quality and sophistication of their work, the variety of experience in-house roles typically offer and the lifestyle benefits of moving in-house. Furthermore, they should initiate or emphasize programs that differentiate themselves from law firms including increased roles in corporate operations outside law, greater access and mentoring from C-suite professionals and alternative compensation packages including stock options.