Or it means that DC firms didn't lay off half their associates, defer new associations and dramatically reduce summer classes like NYC firms.
None of the NYC firms that are actually doing well (increased revenue, increased PPP, stable/increasing RPL) laid off "half their associates," deferred new associates, or dramatically reduced their summer class sizes. Moreover, do not for a second act like the top DC firms didn't stealth their associates, or that they didn't freeze salaries and defer associates... or that they didn't dramatically reduce summer class sizes.
And the thing is that the number of NYC firms/offices actually doing well far outnumbers the number of DC firms/offices actually doing well. For the former, I run out of fingers to count on. For the latter, I don't get beyond my first hand. DC isn't robust. Less prone to upswings and downswings, I can grant. But robust it is not.
Firms doing regulatory work aren't going to have the giant swings associated with deal work.
So what? Regulatory lawyers go out at lower rates than deal lawyers. But when you try to match NYC compensation for associates, you get the same overhead for lower revenue.
And don't act like DC firms are, on the whole, not as leveraged. Hogan Lovells, WilmerHale, Akin Gump, etc. all have cost-draining offices around the world and an absurd number of associates. Such comes with the territory of trying to be a global/national powerhouse.