A Butterfly Flaps its Wings in Menlo Park: An Organizational Analysis of Increases in Associate Salaries

Bruce M. Price

USF School of Law


There are distinctly social processes that shape how and why organizations adopt new policies and procedures and how and why other organizations decide to copy those innovations. In order to determine the factors that compel a firm to innovate, and the social mechanisms through which those changes diffuse across the profession, it is necessary to find particular historical moments when the environment radically challenges previously held paradigms. The dot-com bubble in Silicon Valley provides precisely such a time and place. I present quantitative data on the dramatic salary increases that took place at law firms across the U.S. in 2000. From this empirical observation, I attempt to explain the processes and social dynamics through which this transformation occurred. I present original qualitative findings from a study of Silicon Valley law firms that show how and why a dramatic increase in salaries that took place at a single small firm quickly diffused across the entire legal industry. From this discussion, I suggest the possibility of strategic opportunities for anti-discriminatory measures to have the best chance to take hold and spread across firms.

Keywords: organization, profession, law firm, innovation, innovate, salary, first year, associate, law firm, Silicon Valley

working papers series

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Date posted: March 6, 2009  

Suggested Citation

Price, Bruce M., A Butterfly Flaps its Wings in Menlo Park: An Organizational Analysis of Increases in Associate Salaries (2005). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1354324

Contact Information

Bruce M. Price (Contact Author)
USF School of Law ( email )
2130 Fulton Street
San Francisco, CA 94117
United States
4154225198 (Phone)
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