Lawyer Pay

Median pay for new associates doesn't budge from 2015

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Median pay for first-year associates is the same as it was two years ago—$135,000—according to a salary survey by the National Association for Law Placement.

In a press release, NALP executive director James Leipold said he was surprised that median pay had remained unchanged after publicity about large law firms hiking starting salaries to $180,000. In reality, he said, that figure is not universal.

“What the data reveal,” he said in the press release, “is that for the most part only the largest firms in the largest legal markets made that move, and while many offices are paying $180,000 to start, many are not.”

Median first-year salaries range from $90,000 for firms of 50 or fewer lawyers to $160,000 for firms with 501 to 700 lawyers. The median was slightly lower—$155,000—for firms with more than 700 lawyers. More large than small law firms responded to the survey.

The press release notes that the largest law firms aren’t as similar as they used to be. Many firms with more than 700 lawyers are made up of smaller regional offices that don’t pay starting salaries of $180,000.

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