Lawyer Pay

25% of 2009 Grads in Temp Jobs; Few Actually Earn $72K Pay Median, NALP Says

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NALP is sounding a cautionary note about new salary figures for 2009 law grads that show the median annual pay for those who were working full-time in all reported jobs was $72,000 and the average was $93,454.

NALP, which calls itself the Association for Career Professionals, explains in a press release that few new lawyers actually earn salaries at the median or mean. Instead, there is a cluster of associates earning BigLaw salaries in the $160,000 range, and another cluster of those whose pay ranges from $40,000 to $65,000. The American Lawyer reported on NALP’s new addendum to its May job figures.

Another problem with the figures, NALP says, is that far fewer small firms report salaries than big firms, skewing the numbers higher. To compensate, NALP has devised a new figure that gives more weight to small-firm salaries that are reported. This adjusted average salary is $85,198 for all full-time jobs.

For 2009 grads working full-time at law firms, the average pay was $115,254, and the adjusted average was $102,959.

NALP also reported an employment rate of 88.3 percent for 2009 graduates for whom employment status was known, the lowest figure since the 1990s. But the number, while lower, still doesn’t fully show the weaknesses in the job market, NALP cautions. For example, between 3,200 and 3,700 graduates who reported law firm jobs had their start dates deferred. And 25 percent of the 2009 grads reported that their jobs were temporary.

NALP executive director summarizes the changes in the job market for 2009 grads in the press release. “Members of this graduating class were more likely to be working part-time, working in a temporary job, working in a job that does not require a JD, working as a solo practitioner, or working but still looking for another job, than their peers who graduated in the classes before them,” he said.

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