LOS ANGELES - The associate salary wars got off to a slow start this year, but now they are officially under way.

Salary Wars Pick Up Pace, With Gibson's First-Years at $135,000

Gibson Dunn & Crutcher has decided to increase base salaries for first-year associates by $10,000 to $135,000.

All other associates can expect a $5,000 base salary increase, according to knowledgeable sources at the firm.

"If Gibson has done it, then some of the other big names in town will likely do it soon," said Claudia Spielman, a senior recruiter at BCG Attorney Search.

Gibson Dunn's move follows the decision of a few other California firms to increase starting salaries.

In September, Los Angeles-based Irell & Manella and Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges raised their starting salaries to $135,000.

Munger Tolles & Olson, also based in Los Angeles, quickly matched the increase.

But until now, larger firms had refused to enter the fray.

Gibson Dunn has over 700 lawyers spread throughout offices in 12 cities.

"Gibson is Los Angeles-based, and they have to compete with those firms for the same candidates," Spielman said.