Photo of Jae Um
Congrats,  associates!  Don’t spend it all in one place.

Cravath & Davis Polk associates are raking it in, and everyone’s got an opinion.  Here’s some data to explain how & why the new associate pay scale is a rational move in a functioning market.


Earlier this week, Cravath made waves at every trade media outlet with their 2022 salary scale:

Cravath’s announcement came on the heels of Milbank and Davis Polk each raising the stakes in the ongoing war for associate talent.  (See “Milbank Ups Associate Salaries to $215,000 in War for Talent (2),” Bloomberg Law, January 20, 2022, and “Davis Polk ups senior associate salaries in latest round of pay war,” Reuters, February 22, 2022.).  Before the close of the week, a flurry of memos followed, with a predictable roster of prestige firms matching the new top-of-market scale: Davis Polk, Paul Weiss, Kirkland, Latham, Simpson Thacher, Quinn, Skadden, Debevoise, Ropes, Shearman, Covington, White & Case, Sidley, Paul Hastings, McDermott, Boies Schiller, among others.  (See “Salary Wars Scorecard: Firms That Have Announced Raises (2022),” Above the Law, updated March 4, 2022).

Notably, Milbank has yet to respond to despite racing to first mover position in 2018 and again this year.  Also notably, Morgan Lewis is prudently sitting out the betting rounds, with a promise to monitor and match the prevailing scale once set.
Continue Reading #BadData, Part II: As the War for Talent Rages On, Let the Sorting Begin (290)

Somruthai Keawjan via Unsplash

I get a lot of questions about legal market data.  Today I attempt to explain one of the most frequently asked questions: why demand and pricing seem to be uniquely uncoupled in legal markets.


By and large, 2021 was a year of anticlimactic letdowns.  In a sloggy, tiresome, gradual sort of way, most of us realized that the ravages of COVID would not be defeated in one fell swoop.

One exception has been the trade news coverage on Big Law’s bonanza.  In August, Thomson Reuters Peer Monitor rated Q2 of 2021 a record-breaking quarter in its proprietary index of law firm performance.  (Notwithstanding the battery of disclaimers and historical context provided in the fine print, many industry observers decided that this misleading picture is indeed worth a thousand explanatory words.)
Continue Reading #BadData, Part I: (Topsy Turvy) Demand for Legal Services (279)

Photo by Florian Klauer via Unsplash

The pandemic upended the workplace as we know it.  What does the future of work hold for the legal industry? 


Recently, I left a great job.  I did it without another job lined up, in the middle of a global pandemic and record levels of unemployment.  Many people have been kind enough to ask what’s next and a few have asked why I would do such a thing.  After some internal debate, I decided to explain both on Legal Evolution.
Continue Reading Why and how I’m unbundling my career (224)

Photo Credit: ESA/NASA

The 4th Industrial Revolution is here (even for lawyers).  A look at what digital transformation actually means for legal markets — and the investments tomorrow’s winners are making today.

Today’s post is the final part in the 5-part series #GreatExpectations for the #GreatReset.  (Like the vaccine rollout 💉 and my workout plan 😁, this post is a bit delayed 🥺.  A million thanks to Bill and the Legal Evolution audience for the patience!)
Continue Reading #GreatExpectations, Part V: Cloudy with a Chance of Digital Disruption (220)

Photo by BP Miller via Unsplash / Clear-sighted & pragmatic teams will win the day.

Talk of disruption dominated the last decade.  In 2021, widespread change in legal markets appears elusive.  Will this time be different?

Today’s post (219) is Part IV of #GreatExpectations for the #GreatReset, a 5-part series on


Position isn’t destiny — especially times of turmoil.  Eight charts illustrate the true extent of volatility underlying apparent stagnation in legal markets and give an advance peek at the state of play for 2021.

This post is the third in a 5-part series, #GreatExpectations for the #GreatReset.  The aim of this series is to provide a shared foundation of fact and data to help envision the market dislocations likely to occur in the current economic downturn and recovery.
Continue Reading #GreatExpectations, Part III: As the Mighty Fall, New Challengers Rise (218)

Photo by Markus Spiske via Unsplash

A dozen charts shed light on how a K-shaped recovery widens the distance between the haves and the have-nots.

Part I (216) of this 5-part series (#GreatExpectations for the #GreatReset) provided a broad retrospective on the last downturn for both BigLaw and corporate clients, with emphasis on the socioeconomic context around the legal market.  The next two posts comprise an experiment in format.  Parts II (217) and III (218) are snack-sized posts 🍙🍿 (at least for me 😇), each covering a handful of charts 📊 as background for long-form posts in Parts IV (219) and V (220).
Continue Reading #GreatExpectations, Part II: Some Play to Win & the Rest Fight to Survive (217)

Photo by Galina N via Unsplash

Before we peer into the 🔮 crystal ball to forecast what awaits legal markets in a post-pandemic future, we first look back to the past for lessons from the last downturn – with a wider lens to better understand how the world around our industry is changing.

Now is the winter of our discontent: the worst (😧!) year (🤮!) EVER (😣!!) is finally in the rearview mirror.  Although the first stretch of the new year presages some grim days ahead, I’m doing my best to look to 2021 and beyond with hope and optimism.
Continue Reading #GreatExpectations for the #GreatReset, Part I: a Recession Retrospective and a Post-Pandemic Reckoning (216)

Photo by Markus Spiske via Unsplash

The last decade saw a sustained uptick in funding into the legal vertical. So what is all that capital accomplishing? Quite a lot, actually.


The legal industry is full of opinions – and so it is full of noise. In 2019, 🤦‍♂️ facepalming and 🙄 eyerolling at innovation hype is still very much in vogue, and so a lot of the noise is 😒 negative 😠 in tone.

Amidst all the noise, though, I see very clear signals of meaningful change.
Continue Reading The Current State of Play in Legal Innovation: A New Era of Evolution in the Making (109)