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Some Lawyer Salary Info

thinkingoutloudthinkingoutloud Registered User Posts: 162 Junior Member
edited July 2010 in Law School
Entry-level salaries for lawyers vary widely. Starting salaries for first-year law associates range from $41,000 to $65,000 at small firms (up to 10 attorneys), according to a 2004 survey from the Affiliates, a staffing firm in Menlo Park, Calif. Average salaries for such individuals at small/midsize firms (10 to 35 attorneys) range from $46,750 to $64,750. At midsize firms (35 to 75 attorneys), first-year associates earn average annual salaries ranging from $59,750 to $84,500. At large firms (more than 75 attorneys), they're paid $83,000 to $111,000 in annual salary. First-year associates working as in-house counsels at corporations earn starting salaries ranging from $48,500 to $72,000.

Post edited by thinkingoutloud on

Replies to: Some Lawyer Salary Info

  • sakkysakky - Posts: 14,759 Senior Member
    Again, keep in mind the influence of geography. New York firms pay a lot, but then again, New York is a very expensive place to live (but on the other hand, there's a good reason why New York is so expensive - there are a lot of fun things to do in New York). But the point is that it's important to keep cost of living in mind.
  • PSedrishMDPSedrishMD Registered User Posts: 712 Member
    The going rate nationally now for new grads of the top 10-15 schools is $125,000 +.
  • concerneddadconcerneddad Registered User Posts: 1,734 Senior Member
    True, but bear in mind that the top salary is what those associates are getting at the top lawfirms. Also, ANY law school grad. going to work at one of those firms will get the same salary. In other words, there is no tiered system that is dependent on where you graduate from. Where the difference comes in is in how deep into the class firms will reach to hire for those top paying jobs. Firms dig deeper into the top law schools class than into other schools.
  • bballplaya753bballplaya753 - Posts: 110 Junior Member
    It make a big difference will u go to law school because it affects your salary. Think of it like this, Ur the head partner of some top New York law firm. Where do u think he/she is going to go to hire some new associates. Temple Law vs. Harvard law. I think he is goign to Harvard to get his new associate. Duh
  • concerneddadconcerneddad Registered User Posts: 1,734 Senior Member
    bballplaya, it is not as simplistic as you describe it.

  • bballplaya753bballplaya753 - Posts: 110 Junior Member
    Actually CD, it is
  • PSedrishMDPSedrishMD Registered User Posts: 712 Member
    Well CD, there you have it, straight from the playa's mouth.
  • concerneddadconcerneddad Registered User Posts: 1,734 Senior Member
    An impecable source no doubt.

  • Tenacious JTenacious J Registered User Posts: 725 Member
    Starting lawyers at my dad's firm receive 125 k a year. And we wonder why people are willing to go through law school.
  • ariesathenaariesathena Registered User Posts: 5,087 Senior Member
    Those are the rare ones - USNews is good for a few things. Thumb through the back of the grad student edition, in the "law school" section. You'll find that, even at first-tier schools, many students are making in the $60,000 range - not shabby, but that's what I would earn in engineering. If you look at lower-tier schools, you'll see that it's not uncommon for the 50% range of private practice attorneys (emphasis) to be around $40k - $60k.

    My understanding is that salary depends on the size of the firm, billable hour requirements (and suggestions!), location (NYC will pay more than WV), and practice area (tax or patent paying more than your average criminal defense). Just a thought - but if you go to law school expecting to be paid a six-figure salary at the end, think again. It's not a given and will require three grueling years and (quite often) huge debt to get there. Just a thought - I'll have to out-earn over of my fellow private-practice grads to *break even* - that is, net the same amount of money after law school and loans that I would be if I stayed in engineering. Sobering thought. For many of us, law school is a financial hardship, not a means to quick wealth.
  • ariesathenaariesathena Registered User Posts: 5,087 Senior Member
    PS - assuming private practice, I'll be working longer hours for that same amount of money than I would be in engineering. It could well translate to less money per hour.
  • Susan777Susan777 Registered User Posts: 75 Junior Member
    Concerneddad is correct that firms will generally pay all hires the same amount.

    The problem is that the top firms will usually get most of their grads from the top 10-15 law schools.

    To the extent they go outside this group, it is usually only from a small handful of strong local problems, and they go signficantly less deep into those pools. Generally, you'll need to be in the top 10%-15% at a top-tier program, and outside of the top 100 or so programs, you'll have a very difficult time getting into those firm jobs at all. So there is a tiered system in that sense.

    The original post is very valid, that most grads will start out making much less than the 100K numbers you hear about. $40,000 is much more realistic, and many grads will not even get that. I know bright law grads that were making 30K out of school.
  • blairbear29blairbear29 Registered User Posts: 25 New Member
    But let's say you are someone like John Keker, who is a partner & founder of his own firm, and who is often lauded as one of the best lawyers in the country. Now, I know that he's been at it a long time and his success is very hard to come by. I also know that he charges somewhere around $900/hr, but how much does that translate into as an annual salary?
  • blairbear29blairbear29 Registered User Posts: 25 New Member
    Or someone who works at Wachtell?
This discussion has been closed.