Quinn Emanuel Urquardt Oliver & Hedges LLP has become the first L.A. law firm to up its first-year associate salary to $145,000.


"I'd be surprised if we're the last," said A. William Urquardt, name partner of the firm, which specializes in intellectual property cases.


Firms in New York, San Francisco and Palo Alto have upped their scale to $145,000 recently, but L.A. offices have held steady at $135,000 since September, when Irell & Manella LLP triggered a wave of increases by upping its first-year pay to that level. Until then, first year-associate pay had held relatively steady at $125,000 for nearly seven years.


It remains to be seen as to whether Irell & Manella will match Quinn Emanuel's aggressiveness. The company wasn't talking last week.


Manatt Phelps & Phillips LLP and Paul Hastings LLP have all recently raised first-year associate pay to $135,000 and representatives for the firms say they don't expect additional raises this year. Latham & Watkins LLP also matched that level, but declined to speculate about further raises this year.


Urquardt said the market is "white hot."


"When at the same time these large law firms have their corporate practice, their litigation practice and their bankruptcy practice all humming on eight cylinders at the same time you've got a very hot legal economy right now."

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