After King & Spalding announced a $20,000 pay hike last week for Atlanta associates, Alston & Bird quickly matched—but the rest of Atlanta's big firms are in no hurry to follow.
"This is a different market than a decade ago. It was all about the money then," said Desha Dardenne of Major, Lindsey & Africa.
Ultimately, higher pay will likely push firms toward more merit-based compensation.
"I think it will drive firms even more away from lockstep," Dardenne said. "There will be more scrutiny of what an associate's true value is. Whether it's billable hours or work product or client development, there will be more expectations."
"You're not going to just keep moving up because you're there and breathing and billing 1,800 hours," she said.