>>Sullivan & Cromwell has increased associate base salaries by $20,000 across the board, with first-years now due to receive $145,000 a year before bonus. The New York firm's move tops a recent round of salary increases led by Los Angeles firms, where first-year base salaries rose to $135,000.<<
Let me express my incredulity at this news from law.com. These breathtaking salaries are going to 24-year olds who are being hired for the wrong reasons. The law firms could just as well take the $145K to Las Vegas and put it all on black at the roulette table.
The firms hire based on graduate's school, grades, publications, clerkships, personal pedigree and chemistry with the hiring partner. But that's not enough information. The truth is that most of the firm's money will be wasted, because many of the Gen-X associates aren't interested in becoming partners. If they are interested, most of them will be let go within five years, after the firms have lost money on these pricey new hires for years.
Here's my radical suggestion: why not hire associates based on their potential to bring in new business? Give them a personality test to see if they have what it takes to become a rainmaker. Have the marketing director or marketing partner interview them to probe their inclination to develop business relationships and open new files.
Being a lawyer today means (a) being able to do great work + (b) ability to bring in new work. If a firm pays $145K for a library lawyer, it's money wasted. If a firm is going to shell out a king's ransom for green recruit, they should at least determine if they can build a practice around themselves.