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Billable Hours Rise and Midlevel Associate Satisfaction Drops

Posted Sep 1, 2011 8:38 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Midlevel law firm associates billed an average of 2,037 hours last year, a finding that likely explains a drop in their satisfaction levels.

According to an American Lawyer survey, midlevel associate satisfaction has dropped to its lowest level since 2004. One DLA Piper associate responding to the survey of third-, fourth- and fifth-year associates made the connection. "Firms got too lean [after the recession] and consequently realized that associates will work more and more if asked,” the associate wrote. “Quality of life has therefore decreased."

On the bright side, compensation is up, the story says. The average base salary for midlevel associates this year is $185,319, a 4 percent increase. The average average year-end bonus is $19,746, up 5 percent.

The survey lists these top five law firms for midlevel associate satisfaction:

1) Nutter McClennen & Fish in Boston

2) Paul Hastings (national)

3) Cozen O’Connor in Philadelphia

4) Goulston & Storrs in Boston

5) Ropes & Gray in Boston

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