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Median BigLaw pay for new associates rebounds to $160,000

Posted Sep 18, 2013 9:02 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Median pay for new associates at large law firms has rebounded to $160,000 after dipping to $145,000 last year.

The National Association for Law Placement reported on the figure for first-year associates at firms of more than 700 lawyers in a press release. In these BigLaw firms, salaries of $160,000 accounted for 56 percent of reported first-year salaries in 2013, compared with 46 percent in 2012, 54 percent in 2011, 58 percent in 2010, and 65 percent in 2009.

The median starting salary for associates of all firm sizes was $125,000, the same as last year.

Median starting pay was $78,000 in firms of 2 to 25 lawyers, $110,000 in firms of 26 to 50 lawyers and 101 to 250 lawyers, $100,000 in firms of 51 to 100 lawyers, $160,000 in firms of 251 to 500 lawyers, and $125,000 in firms of 501 to 700 lawyers.

James Leipold, NALP’s executive director, said in a press release that “the story is really one of no change, or at least not much change.”

"At the largest firms in the largest markets, a starting salary of $160,000 remains the norm, though its prevalence has ebbed and flowed a bit over the last several years,” Leipold said. He added that “there is nothing about the current market that suggests starting associate salaries will be moving up any time soon.”

NALP’s information is based on reports from 665 law firms, 51 percent of which were firms with more than 500 lawyers.

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