New BigLaw associates make the most money in NYC, says survey

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While $160,000 is widely recognized as the benchmark starting salary paid to first-year associates by the top BigLaw firms, a number outside New York City pay less.

Before the recession hit the legal industry hard, 80 percent of the law firms employing 700 attorneys or more said they were paying first-years $160K in Chicago, in response to a National Association for Law Placement survey. But since 2009, that percentage has dropped to 55 percent in the Windy City, reports Crain’s Chicago Business.

In the nation’s capital, NALP found, 60 percent of firms with 700 attorneys or more are starting associates at $160K. That compares to 90 percent in 2009, reports the Washington Business Journal

In Philadephia, Dechert recently joined DLA Piper in paying first-years there $160K, reports the Legal Intelligencer (sub. req.).

Among other well-known firms in that city, Duane Morris and Morgan Lewis & Bockius pay a $145K starting salary; Blank Rome, Drinker Biddle & Reath and Pepper Hamilton are at $140K; and Reed Smith pays $130K. (Reed Smith pays $125K in Pittsburgh and $160K in New York.)

Although associates in the Big Apple get paid the most, the high cost of living there negates much or all of the difference, the Business Insider pointed out earlier this year.

A NALP buying-power survey, based on statistics for the Class of 2011, listed Dallas, Houston and Wilmington, Delaware, as the cities where associates get the most for their money at $135K, $145K and $115K, respectively.

New York is more than 40 cities farther down on the list.

Related coverage: “NALP sees ‘upward movement’ in starting pay for associates; median increases $10K”

Bloomberg: “For New Lawyers, $160,000 Remains the Norm”

National Law Journal (sub. req.): “Associate Pay Still Lags Behind Prerecession Levels”

See also:

Above the Law: “Nationwide Pay Raise Watch: Who Now Pays A Starting Salary Of $200,000?”

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