Top General Counsel React to Recent Associate Salary Increases

(NEWTOWN SQUARE, PA, May 9, 2007) — In a newly released Altman Weil Flash Survey, 58% of top General Counsel characterized the recent increases in law firm associate starting salaries to $160,000 as “outrageous.”

Some respondents (16%) were more philosophical, indicating that the latest round of increases were merely “the cost of doing business.”  An additional 5% said the increases were “not even on my radar screen.”   The remainder of participants made a variety of comments on how they will proactively limit the effect of the increases through budgets, fee caps, fixed fees, and less frequent use of high-end law firm services.

The Altman Weil Flash Survey on Increases in Associate Salaries, conducted in April 2007, included responses from General Counsel in 38 of the 200 largest U.S. law departments.

Law Firm Response
When asked if any of their panel firms had contacted them to discuss associate salary increases and their impact, 100% of General Counsel reported that they had not been contacted.  In a follow-up question, 84% indicated that they thought their law firms should have done so.

“This is significant omission on the part of law firms in managing their client relationships,” comments Altman Weil principal Dan DiLucchio.  “These salary increases have gotten lots of press coverage and have touched a nerve in many law departments.  General Counsel are under serious pressure to manage legal costs in a highly competitive environment and they expect a dialogue with their outside counsel about pricing issues.”

Policy Changes
The Survey reports that 13% of the top 200 U.S. corporate law departments have changed their policies on use of first and second year associates in light of recent round of salaries increases.  Over half of those said they make decisions on associate use on a case-by-case basis, while 20% restrict first and second years from all of their matters.

The Full Survey
The Survey was conducted in April 2007 and polled law department General Counsel in the United States. It reports responses from 38 of the 200 largest law departments.  For purposes of final report tabulation, two responses from smaller departments were excluded.  The full report, along with individual comments from the participating General Counsel, appears on the Altman Weil website at

About Altman Weil
Founded in 1970, Altman Weil, Inc. provides management consulting services to law firms, law departments and legal vendors throughout North America, Latin America, the U.K. and Europe. Altman Weil is known for the many legal economic and management surveys it conducts and publishes, including the annual Survey of Law Firm Economics.  For more information about Altman Weil, go to

Contact Information

Daniel J. DiLucchio, Jr.
Altman Weil, Inc.

Download a copy of the full survey at

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