$200K is median base pay for new associates, thanks to market pressure from talent wars, NALP says
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Associate pay hikes cascaded during a “red-hot recruiting market” over the last two years, leading to a median base salary of $200,000 for new associates in 2023, according to Nikia L. Gray, the executive director of the National Association for Law Placement.
Gray commented on a new report from the NALP showing that the overall median base salary increased 21.2%, an increase of $35,000, from 2021—when the NALP last surveyed starting salaries.
“While normally it takes the highly publicized raises at the largest firms two or more years to move through the market, NALP’s latest associate salary survey shows that salaries increased dramatically across the industry, regardless of firm size or location,” Gray said in a May 10 press release.
The 2023 Associate Salary Survey report is based on responses from 694 law firms. Law offices in firms of more than 250 lawyers made up about 81% of the responses, up from 78% in 2021. The “respondent pool” varies from year to year.
The biggest pay increase in percentage terms was in firms of 100 or fewer lawyers, in which the median base pay increased 29.2% to $155,000 in 2023.
The largest pay increase in actual dollars was in firms of 501 to 700 lawyers, in which the median base salary increased $45,000—from $155,000 in 2021 to $200,000 in 2023.
The median first-year salary in firms of more than 1,000 lawyers was $215,000 in 2023. That was the salary for 75% of all first-year associates in this group of firms.
The median starting salary is $215,000 in 11 cities and geographic areas. They are Austin, Texas; Boston; Chicago; Dallas; Houston; Los Angeles/Orange County, California; New York City; San Diego; San Francisco; Silicon Valley in California; and the Washington, D.C., area.
The full 2023 Associate Salary Survey report can be purchased here.