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Fall 2021 Big Law Salary Increase


Ivermectin4President
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Ivermectin4President
  • Lawyer

There are persistent rumours of salary hikes at major law firms (Stikes, Blakes, Osler, Davies), which have either already been announced, or are in discussion. 

The last rumour I have is for an announced 15% increase at Stikes, but I cannot confirm this. 

If you can confirm a pay increase, please post the details here, including: Firm, Year of Call, Percent or Dollar Increase, and City. 

*Edit: details criteria

 

Edited by Ivermectin4President
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ZineZ
  • Lawyer

One quick note - please remember that posts are forever. So make sure that it wouldn't be too easy for someone at your firm to figure out who exactly posted here (if you're concerned about it). 

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Ivermectin4President
  • Lawyer
9 minutes ago, ZineZ said:

One quick note - please remember that posts are forever. So make sure that it wouldn't be too easy for someone at your firm to figure out who exactly posted here (if you're concerned about it). 

This is true. If you would prefer to remain less identifiable, please feel free to message me and I will post the information you provide. 

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Interesting. I work at one of the firms you mentioned and I haven't heard anything about this yet. 15% won't be enough to stem the tide of associates leaving for the US, but at least it's something. 

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BlockedQuebecois
  • Lawyer
18 minutes ago, Grey said:

Interesting. I work at one of the firms you mentioned and I haven't heard anything about this yet. 15% won't be enough to stem the tide of associates leaving for the US, but at least it's something. 

Might make going in house a bit less attractive, at least for a while. A lot of my colleagues have jumped to NY this year, but roughly the same number have recently taken in house gigs. 

Bay Street is never going to really compete with NY/CA in terms of compensation, so as long as the market is hot enough for US firms to want Canadians, the firms are going to struggle to retain associates. What they can do is make the transition in house or to a smaller firm a bit more financially painful. it doesn’t fix the problem, but it pushes it down the road. 

It’s too bad no firms have taken this opportunity to really compete for talent with non-compensation based perks. I would take unlimited remote work (not work from home where I have to be in Toronto) in exchange for no retention bonus or pay raise.

And some of the “global” firms are well positioned to give associates (and partners) a lot of flexibility in terms of where they live and work. I would even work for Dentons if they let me pick which office I was based out of on a quarterly basis (working core hours that match up with Toronto, of course). 

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Hitman9172
  • Lawyer
3 minutes ago, BlockedQuebecois said:

It’s too bad no firms have taken this opportunity to really compete for talent with non-compensation based perks. I would take unlimited remote work (not work from home where I have to be in Toronto) in exchange for no retention bonus or pay raise.

And some of the “global” firms are well positioned to give associates (and partners) a lot of flexibility in terms of where they live and work. I would even work for Dentons if they let me pick which office I was based out of on a quarterly basis (working core hours that match up with Toronto, of course). 

Agreed. With many large firms having had their most profitable years with most of their staff working remotely the past 18 months, the push to get people back in office a majority of the time (especially in Vancouver) is a bit baffling. I'm expecting a ton of lateral movement in the new year once bonuses are paid out and there's more certainty as to who offers the most remote work flexibility.

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Hitman9172
  • Lawyer

Confirmed that Cassels Brock has increased associate salaries by $20,000 for 2019 calls and later, and by $25,000 for 2018 calls and earlier. Here we go!

Edited by Hitman9172
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washeduplawgrad
  • Lawyer
50 minutes ago, Grey said:

Apparently Blakes and Stikes have announced a similar increase effective October 1. 

This has not been confirmed at Blakes as of yet.

Edited by washeduplawgrad
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Nachklang
  • Law Student
6 hours ago, Hitman9172 said:

Confirmed that Cassels Brock has increased associate salaries by $20,000 for 2019 calls and later, and by $25,000 for 2018 calls and earlier. Here we go!

Hope this is true and Cassels is not the only one doing that - then it may push other firms to follow and drive the whole street.

5 hours ago, washeduplawgrad said:

This has not been confirmed at Blakes as of yet.

Has it been formally discussed at Blakes?

Edited by Nachklang
change the use of words
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BlockedQuebecois
  • Lawyer
12 minutes ago, JohnsonWest said:

can anyone post updates on vancouver? 

Still paying a (relative) pittance, to the best of my knowledge. A firm recently offered to pay me as my year of call plus a year in order to try to entice me away from Toronto. 

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JohnsonWest
  • Lawyer
36 minutes ago, BlockedQuebecois said:

Still paying a (relative) pittance, to the best of my knowledge. A firm recently offered to pay me as my year of call plus a year in order to try to entice me away from Toronto. 

lol it's really not that bad. i'm basically making what someone in big law on bay would make a year under me. i get my weekends to myself and don't work myself to the bone till midnight every night so i'll take that trade any day. 

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Hitman9172
  • Lawyer
2 hours ago, BlockedQuebecois said:

Still paying a (relative) pittance, to the best of my knowledge. A firm recently offered to pay me as my year of call plus a year in order to try to entice me away from Toronto. 

 

1 hour ago, JohnsonWest said:

lol it's really not that bad. i'm basically making what someone in big law on bay would make a year under me. i get my weekends to myself and don't work myself to the bone till midnight every night so i'll take that trade any day. 

 

I think Toronto associate salaries are usually $15-20k greater per year of call than Vancouver salaries, although Ontario has a higher provincial tax rate than BC, so the gap is actually narrower than most people think. One of my good friends in Ontario (I'm in Vancouver) makes about $20k gross more than me, but only about $7k more after taxes.

 

Edited by Hitman9172
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BlockedQuebecois
  • Lawyer
29 minutes ago, Hitman9172 said:

 

 

I think Toronto associate salaries are usually $15-20k greater per year of call than Vancouver salaries, although Ontario has a higher provincial tax rate than BC, so the gap is actually narrower than most people think. One of my good friends in Ontario (I'm in Vancouver) makes about $20k gross more than me, but only about $7k more after taxes.

 

A few other considerations, outside of tax: 

  1. Vancouver bumps you up a year of call in January after your call, rather than ~16 months later;
  2. The salary gap tends to widen as you get more senior; 
  3. Toronto bonuses tend to be bigger, as they are generally a percentage of salary; 
  4. My understanding is that partner comp is also much higher, on average, out east than in the west. But that’s based on conversations with (mainly litigation) partners in each jurisdiction, so I have a small sample size and it’s possible that’s wrong. 

Re: Hours, I am largely of the opinion that how much off-hours work you have to do is: (i) firm dependent; (ii) group dependent; and (iii) individual dependent. I know plenty of folks out west working harder for less money than folks out east. And I never had problems protecting my weekends in Toronto, despite working at a firm with a rep for the opposite. 

Money isn’t everything, though, and honestly the Vancouver firm likely would have matched my Toronto comp if I had gone further down the road with them. 

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washeduplawgrad
  • Lawyer
12 hours ago, Nachklang said:

Hope this is true and Cassels is not the only one doing that - then it may push other firms to follow and drive the whole street.

Has it been formally discussed at Blakes?

The powers that be have been made aware of the increase at Cassels but I do not know if it has been discussed in terms of whether Blakes will be following.

7 hours ago, BlockedQuebecois said:

A few other considerations, outside of tax: 

  1. Vancouver bumps you up a year of call in January after your call, rather than ~16 months later;
  2. The salary gap tends to widen as you get more senior; 
  3. Toronto bonuses tend to be bigger, as they are generally a percentage of salary; 
  4. My understanding is that partner comp is also much higher, on average, out east than in the west. But that’s based on conversations with (mainly litigation) partners in each jurisdiction, so I have a small sample size and it’s possible that’s wrong. 

Re: Hours, I am largely of the opinion that how much off-hours work you have to do is: (i) firm dependent; (ii) group dependent; and (iii) individual dependent. I know plenty of folks out west working harder for less money than folks out east. And I never had problems protecting my weekends in Toronto, despite working at a firm with a rep for the opposite. 

Money isn’t everything, though, and honestly the Vancouver firm likely would have matched my Toronto comp if I had gone further down the road with them. 

My two cents, FWIW:

Re 2: This is my firm's differences between Vancouver (Toronto) - see gap getting wider 105 (110), 117 (130), 127 (150), 142 (170), 160 (190) 

Re 3: confirmed

Re 4: This is my understanding as well. Across various groups.

Re hours: I also completely agree. I similarly have had next to no problems protecting weekends in Toronto but in other groups in my firm that is a no go.

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washeduplawgrad
  • Lawyer
18 hours ago, Grey said:

Apparently Blakes and Stikes have announced a similar increase effective October 1. 

Sounds like people are not correct about Stikes either. I know Stikes Montreal raised salaries but I dont think Stikes Toronto has, as of yet. Would love if someone could confirm either way.

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9 minutes ago, washeduplawgrad said:

Sounds like people are not correct about Stikes either. I know Stikes Montreal raised salaries but I dont think Stikes Toronto has, as of yet. Would love if someone could confirm either way.

Hmm, interesting. I had heard that through the grapevine so there may be some broken telephone going on. Agreed that it would be great to have this confirmed to put pressure on the other firms.

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Rashabon
  • Lawyer
31 minutes ago, Pantalaimon said:

Is the Van vs Calgary vs Toronto comp debate going to be the new Firm Rankings?

? How are they similar?

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Ivermectin4President
  • Lawyer
2 minutes ago, Pantalaimon said:

Just seems to come up in every second thread these days.

You aren't wrong - but I think that's because lawyers billing between 40-70 hours a week have a vested interest in ensuring their compensation remains competitive. This forum provides a much needed source of anonymous, but quasi-reliable information on salary increases in the major Canadian markets. A salary increase in Toronto usually has a corollary impact on salaries in other markets in Canada. 

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Hitman9172
  • Lawyer
9 hours ago, BlockedQuebecois said:

A few other considerations, outside of tax: 

  1. Vancouver bumps you up a year of call in January after your call, rather than ~16 months later;
  2. The salary gap tends to widen as you get more senior; 
  3. Toronto bonuses tend to be bigger, as they are generally a percentage of salary; 
  4. My understanding is that partner comp is also much higher, on average, out east than in the west. But that’s based on conversations with (mainly litigation) partners in each jurisdiction, so I have a small sample size and it’s possible that’s wrong. 

Re: Hours, I am largely of the opinion that how much off-hours work you have to do is: (i) firm dependent; (ii) group dependent; and (iii) individual dependent. I know plenty of folks out west working harder for less money than folks out east. And I never had problems protecting my weekends in Toronto, despite working at a firm with a rep for the opposite. 

Money isn’t everything, though, and honestly the Vancouver firm likely would have matched my Toronto comp if I had gone further down the road with them. 

Agreed on all points. I did find Toronto has more of a 'work longer hours' and facetime culture, but perhaps this has changed with COVID and everyone working remotely. The most important intangible factor in all of this is the city to live in. I love Toronto, but prefer living in Vancouver. The gap in salaries between TO and Van (and Calgary FWIW) isn't enough to sway me one way or the other, so the deciding factor becomes quality of life.

P.S. special shoutout to the Toronto offices for always raising salaries first, which eventually trickle down to us Vancouverites 😃

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Pantalaimon
  • Articling Student
22 minutes ago, Ivermectin4President said:

You aren't wrong - but I think that's because lawyers billing between 40-70 hours a week have a vested interest in ensuring their compensation remains competitive. This forum provides a much needed source of anonymous, but quasi-reliable information on salary increases in the major Canadian markets. A salary increase in Toronto usually has a corollary impact on salaries in other markets in Canada. 

Fair enough. My comment was clearly too glib, I was more rolling my eyes than trying to shut it down.

Believe me, I hope raises in TO migrate west! Although I'll note that so far it hasn't even migrated to the rest of Bay.

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carlill
  • Lawyer

Out of interest is this the current Bay Street salary scale before these increases (hopefully) take effect:

First-year: $110,000 

Second-year: $130,000

Third-year: $150,000 

Fourth-year: $170,000

Fifth-year: $180,000

Sixth-year: $200,000

*Taken from an Ultra Vires article in July 2019.

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