The Cravath Scale Goes Up (Again)

What is the Cravath Scale?

Most BigLaw firms pay their Lawyers on the Cravath scale.

A BigLaw firm simply refers to the largest law firms internationally by headcount. The Cravath scale is a lockstep system which ensures Associates receive pay increases based on their number of years since leaving law school. This means that Lawyers can receive very different pay packages depending on their years of post-qualification experience. This method is used across most major law firms in order to compete for the best talent.

Milbank Smashes the Associate Pay Scale with Yet Another Raise

Milbank has recently announced that they are raising Associate pay by between $10,000 and $20,000, depending on class year, a move that cracks the scale set just last year. This means that Associate pay at Milbank will range from $215,000 for the class of 2021 to $385,000 for the class of 2014 and beyond.

Milbank had raised Associate pay to $200,000 for 2021 graduates and $355,000 for 2014 graduates in June 2021. However, Davis Polk & Wardwell quickly topped that amount, raising associate pay to $202,500 for 2021 graduates and $365,000 for 2014 graduates. Milbank eventually matched the Davis Polk scale, as did many other BigLaw firms.

As previously mentioned, it is important to BigLaw firms that they are on an even playing field for attracting talent when it comes to salary. For that reason, it is likely that other law firms will fall in line with Milbank’s new scale.

Cravath’s New Pay Scale:

  • Class of 2021: $215,000 (up from $205,000)
  • Class of 2020: $225,000 (up from $215,000)
  • Class of 2019: $250,000 (up from $240,000)
  • Class of 2018: $285,000 (up from $275,000)
  • Class of 2017: $325,000 (up from $305,000)
  • Class of 2016: $350,000 (up from $330,000)
  • Class of 2015: $370,000 (up from $350,000)
  • Class of 2014 and beyond: $385,000 (up from $365,000)
Is this Necessary or are Law Firms Missing the Point?

With the legal market so competitive in its current state, is increasing the already eye watering salaries the way to go? Or are Junior Lawyers looking for something other than a pay rise?

Junior Lawyers at the world’s top law firms last year reported rising rates of stress due to the soaring workloads associated with a boom in dealmaking but also pandemic-induced anxiety and isolation.

Associates at elite firms have long viewed exhausting hours as part of a pact in which evenings, weekends and sleep are exchanged for eye-popping salaries. And few will shed any tears for twenty-something Lawyers on six-figure salaries. But with the number of Associates leaving increasing by almost 50 per cent year-on-year in 2021, firms are having to ask whether such a relentless pace can, or should, be sustained.

Is higher pay going to solve the burnout problem for Junior Associates – or is it papering over the cracks?


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If you are a Lawyer looking for more from your career, contact Interlink at for more information about the opportunities available to you.

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