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Law Students Make More than Ga. State Judges

Posted May 7, 2007 2:43 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Even before graduating from law school, summer associates at some Atlanta law firms, on an annualized basis, are earning more than seasoned jurists sitting on the state court bench.

And for top-earning first-year Atlanta associates, some of whom will be making $145,000 this year, it definitely pays not to be a judge, points out a local business lawyer in a column today's Daily Report legal newspaper.

The mean income for Georgia Superior Court judges is $133,000, and the annual salary for these judges on the state's trial court is a little over $113,000. Because many can earn supplementary pay, however, they actually may make more than many state Court of Appeals judges, who are paid $157,000, writes Cary Ichter, a partner at Thompson Hine in Atlanta. Georgia Supreme Court judges get a $158,000 annual salary.

"The only rational conclusion about the system by which judicial compensation is set is that the system is broken—badly broken," he writes, calling for a 40 percent pay increase for state judges. At present, he notes, "the judges presiding over capital murder cases, other violent felony cases, child-custody matters, multimillion-dollar business disputes, and issues involving the legality and constitutionality of our laws would, from a financial perspective, be better off quitting and becoming first-year associates at a large Atlanta law firm."

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