Salary Gap Widens Between Have and Have-Not Law Grads
Posted Jun 30, 2009 10:01 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss
New salary figures for law graduates show a growing gap between associates at the big firms and everybody else.
A survey of the class of 2008 shows 23 percent of the graduates made $160,000, the amount the big law firms paid to newly minted associates, according to a press release by the National Association for Law Placement. But 42 percent earned between $40,000 and $65,000.
When the figures are placed on a graph, there are two peaks, one for those in the lower range and one for the higher range.
“Prior to 2000, starting salaries for new law school graduates were distributed along a more recognizable bell-shaped curve,” NALP says in the press release. “Since that time, the peak on the right has marched steadily to the right while the peak on the left has remained more or less stationary.”
The National Law Journal notes that the salary figures could change now that some large law firms are cutting pay for new associates by up to 10 percent. NALP executive director James Leipold predicted in an interview with the publication that the $160,000 peak will soften, getting closer to the $145,000 range.
Last year, Indiana law professor noted the twin-peaks salary distribution and suggested that the hiring model based on ever-higher salaries for new associates could implode.