Boutique and Mid-Sized Law Firms Paying Big Law Salary Scale |

Boutique and Mid-Sized Law Firms Paying Big Law Salary Scale


Print/Download PDF

Font Size

Rate this article

751 Reviews Average: 4.9 out of 5

In 2018, during what turned out to be the strongest year in the legal market since the Great Recession, Milbank LLP announced a new salary scale for their associates. To stay competitive in the hunt for the best young associates, almost 100 of Milbank’s Big Law competitors quickly followed suit.
The current Big Law salary scale is:
Class Year Salary
1st year $190,000
2nd year $200,000
3rd year $220,000
4th year $255,000
5th year $280,000
6th year $305,000
7th year $325,000
8th year $340,000
9th year $350,000
Summer Associates $3700/week

However, it’s not only the biggest firms in the country that are vying for top talent. Dozens of mid-sized firms and sophisticated, specialized boutiques have also jumped on the Big Law salary scale bandwagon—or close to it. Some of these law firms are even paying their associates more than their AmLaw counterparts.
Here’s a list of firms outside the AmLaw 100 where associates are getting paid the big bucks.
Law Firm 1st Year Salary Firm Type Practice Area(s) Location(s)
Ahmad, Zavitsanos, Anaipakos, Alavi & Mensing P.C. $190,000 Boutique Litigation Houston
Axinn, Veltrop & Harkrider LLP $170,000-$180,000* Boutique Antitrust New York; Hartford; Washington D.C.
Banner Witcoff $190,000 Boutique Intellectual Property Chicago
Barack Ferrazzano Kirschbaum & Nagelberg LLP $190,000 Midsize Mixed Practice Chicago (HQ); Minneapolis; Austin
Brewer, Attorneys & Counselors $185,000 Boutique Litigation New York; Dallas
Caplin & Drysdale, Chartered $170,000 Small-Midsize Mixed Practice Washington D.C.; New York
Chapman and Cutler LLP $180,000 (except Salt Lake City - $130,000) Midsize Mixed Practice Chicago (HQ); New York; San Francisco; Washington D.C.; Salt Lake City
Condo Roccia Koptiw LLP $180,000 Boutique Intellectual Property Philadelphia
Desmarais $210,000 Midsize Patent Litigation New York; San Francisco
Dovel and Luner $215,000 Boutique Plaintiff-Side Litigation Los Angeles
Durie Tangri $180,000 Boutique Intellectual Property San Francisco; Los Angeles
Duval & Stachenfeld $190,000 Boutique Real Estate New York
Farella Braun & Martel LLP $180,000 Midsize Mixed Practice San Francisco; St. Helena
Friedman Kaplan Seiler & Adelman LLP $180,000 Boutique Litigation; White Collar New York; New Jersey
Gibbs & Bruns LLP $190,000 Boutique Litigation Houston
Groom Law Group Chartered $190,000 Boutique ERISA/Employee Benefits Washington D.C.
Gunderson Dettmer Stough Villeneuve Franklin & Hachigian, LLP $190,000 Midsize Mixed Practice Multiple Offices in California; Boston; New York; Ann Arbor; Singapore; Beijing
Hickman Palermo Becker Bingham LLP $160,000 Boutique Intellectual Property San Jose
Holwell Shuster & Goldberg $190,000 Boutique Litigation New York
Hueston Hennigan LLP $190,000 Boutique Litigation Los Angeles
Keker & Van Nest LLP $190,000 Boutique Intellectual Property San Francisco
Kellogg, Hansen, Todd, Figel & Frederick P.L.L.C. $225,000 Boutique Litigation Washington D.C.
Klee, Tuchin, Bogdanoff & Stern LLP $190,000 Boutique Corporate Law Los Angeles
Kobre & Kim LLP $190,000 Boutique/Midsize Litigation New York; Miami; San Francisco; Washington D.C.; Multiple International Offices
Marshall, Gerstein & Borun LLP $180,000 Boutique Intellectual Property Chicago
McDonnell Boehnen Hulbert & Berghoff LLP $180,000 Midsize Intellectual Property Chicago
McKool Smith $190,000 Boutique Intellectual Property Multiple offices nationwide
Morvillo, Abramowitz, Grand, Iason & Anello PC $190,000 Boutique Litigation New York
Shartsis Friese LLP $190,000 Small-Midsize Mixed Practice San Francisco
Smyser Kaplan & Veselka, L.L.P. $190,000 Small-Midsize Mixed Practice Houston
Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox, P.L.L.C. $180,000 Midsize Intellectual Property Washington D.C.
Susman Godfrey $195,000 Boutique Litigation Houston; Seattle; Los Angeles; New York
Tenesgrity Law Group $180,000 Boutique Patent Litigation Redwood Shores, CA
Warren Lex $190,000 Boutique Litigation San Francisco
Wolf, Greenfield & Sacks, P.C. $190,000 Boutique Intellectual Property Boston

* Salaries vary by geographic market.
About Harrison Barnes

Harrison Barnes is a prominent figure in the legal placement industry, known for his expertise in attorney placements and his extensive knowledge of the legal profession.

With over 25 years of experience, he has established himself as a leading voice in the field and has helped thousands of lawyers and law students find their ideal career paths.

Barnes is a former federal law clerk and associate at Quinn Emanuel and a graduate of the University of Chicago College and the University of Virginia Law School. He was a Rhodes Scholar Finalist at the University of Chicago and a member of the University of Virginia Law Review. Early in his legal career, he enrolled in Stanford Business School but dropped out because he missed legal recruiting too much.

Barnes' approach to the legal industry is rooted in his commitment to helping lawyers achieve their full potential. He believes that the key to success in the legal profession is to be proactive, persistent, and disciplined in one's approach to work and life. He encourages lawyers to take ownership of their careers and to focus on developing their skills and expertise in a way that aligns with their passions and interests.

One of how Barnes provides support to lawyers is through his writing. On his blog,, and, he regularly shares his insights and advice on a range of topics related to the legal profession. Through his writing, he aims to empower lawyers to control their careers and make informed decisions about their professional development.

One of Barnes's fundamental philosophies in his writing is the importance of networking. He believes that networking is a critical component of career success and that it is essential for lawyers to establish relationships with others in their field. He encourages lawyers to attend events, join organizations, and connect with others in the legal community to build their professional networks.

Another central theme in Barnes' writing is the importance of personal and professional development. He believes that lawyers should continuously strive to improve themselves and develop their skills to succeed in their careers. He encourages lawyers to pursue ongoing education and training actively, read widely, and seek new opportunities for growth and development.

In addition to his work in the legal industry, Barnes is also a fitness and lifestyle enthusiast. He sees fitness and wellness as integral to his personal and professional development and encourages others to adopt a similar mindset. He starts his day at 4:00 am and dedicates several daily hours to running, weightlifting, and pursuing spiritual disciplines.

Finally, Barnes is a strong advocate for community service and giving back. He volunteers for the University of Chicago, where he is the former area chair of Los Angeles for the University of Chicago Admissions Office. He also serves as the President of the Young Presidents Organization's Century City Los Angeles Chapter, where he works to support and connect young business leaders.

In conclusion, Harrison Barnes is a visionary legal industry leader committed to helping lawyers achieve their full potential. Through his work at BCG Attorney Search, writing, and community involvement, he empowers lawyers to take control of their careers, develop their skills continuously, and lead fulfilling and successful lives. His philosophy of being proactive, persistent, and disciplined, combined with his focus on personal and professional development, makes him a valuable resource for anyone looking to succeed in the legal profession.

About BCG Attorney Search

BCG Attorney Search matches attorneys and law firms with unparalleled expertise and drive, while achieving results. Known globally for its success in locating and placing attorneys in law firms of all sizes, BCG Attorney Search has placed thousands of attorneys in law firms in thousands of different law firms around the country. Unlike other legal placement firms, BCG Attorney Search brings massive resources of over 150 employees to its placement efforts locating positions and opportunities its competitors simply cannot. Every legal recruiter at BCG Attorney Search is a former successful attorney who attended a top law school, worked in top law firms and brought massive drive and commitment to their work. BCG Attorney Search legal recruiters take your legal career seriously and understand attorneys. For more information, please visit

Harrison Barnes does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for attorneys and law students each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can attend anonymously and ask questions about your career, this article, or any other legal career-related topics. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom

Harrison also does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for law firms, companies, and others who hire attorneys each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom

You can browse a list of past webinars here: Webinar Replays

You can also listen to Harrison Barnes Podcasts here: Attorney Career Advice Podcasts

You can also read Harrison Barnes' articles and books here: Harrison's Perspectives

Harrison Barnes is the legal profession's mentor and may be the only person in your legal career who will tell you why you are not reaching your full potential and what you really need to do to grow as an attorney--regardless of how much it hurts. If you prefer truth to stagnation, growth to comfort, and actionable ideas instead of fluffy concepts, you and Harrison will get along just fine. If, however, you want to stay where you are, talk about your past successes, and feel comfortable, Harrison is not for you.

Truly great mentors are like parents, doctors, therapists, spiritual figures, and others because in order to help you they need to expose you to pain and expose your weaknesses. But suppose you act on the advice and pain created by a mentor. In that case, you will become better: a better attorney, better employees, a better boss, know where you are going, and appreciate where you have been--you will hopefully also become a happier and better person. As you learn from Harrison, he hopes he will become your mentor.

To read more career and life advice articles visit Harrison's personal blog.

AGREE/DISAGREE? SHARE COMMENTS ANONYMOUSLY! We Want to Hear Your Thoughts! Tell Us What You Think!!

Related Articles

We've changed thousands of lives over the past 20 years, and yours could be next.

When you use BCG Attorney Search you will get an unfair advantage because you will use the best legal placement company in the world for finding permanent law firm positions.