Median pay for public service lawyers rises modestly, NALP reports
Khongtham / Shutterstock.com
Salaries for public service lawyers continue to slowly increase, but their pay is still below that of lawyers in private practice, according to a salary survey by the National Association for Law Placement.
Among public service lawyers, pay was lowest for lawyers in civil legal services, according to a NALP press release. Median pay in 2018 ranged from $48,000 for a new legal-services lawyer to $69,400 for a legal services lawyer with 11 to 15 years of experience. In 2004, the median for those categories was $34,000 and $51,900.
Median pay for first-year associates in private practice in 2017 was much higher, even in smaller firms. The median was about $90,000 for new associates at firms of fewer than 50 lawyers, and $115,000 at firms with 51 to 100 lawyers. Many large firms offered starting pay of $180,000 last year, which has been raised to $190,000 at many firms this year.
Lawyers in other public interest positions, including many experienced lawyers, also made less money in 2018 than associates in private practice.
Entry-level lawyers who work for public interest organizations made a median salary of $50,300, while those with 11 to 15 years of experience made $80,500. In 2004, the amounts were $36,700 and $64,000.
Entry-level local prosecuting attorneys made a median salary of $56,200, while those with 11 to 15 years of experience made $84,400. In 2004, the amounts were $40,000 and $69,300.
Entry-level public defenders made a median salary of $58,300, while PDs with 11 to 15 years of experience made $96,400. In 2004, the median amounts were $39,000 and $65,000.
The survey was based on responses from nearly 350 organizations, and reflected the salaries of lawyers who primarily practiced law.