Salary trends

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jason8821
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Salary trends

Postby jason8821 » Sun Apr 04, 2010 10:53 pm

I am looking to hear from a practicing attorney. My question is how quickly, and how much does salary increase as a lawyer? I know this is a very broad question, but if someone could elaborate that would be great? I know big law starts out at 150K or (average) but at what rate does that increase? How about government jobs, or working at smaller, mid-size firms. Obviously there other several variables, but I appreciate any insight. For the sake of discussion, let's assume that the economy picks up. (I know it's optomistic)

Thanks.

270910
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Re: Salary trends

Postby 270910 » Sun Apr 04, 2010 11:32 pm

jason8821 wrote:I am looking to hear from a practicing attorney. My question is how quickly, and how much does salary increase as a lawyer? I know this is a very broad question, but if someone could elaborate that would be great? I know big law starts out at 150K or (average) but at what rate does that increase? How about government jobs, or working at smaller, mid-size firms. Obviously there other several variables, but I appreciate any insight. For the sake of discussion, let's assume that the economy picks up. (I know it's optomistic)

Thanks.


Big firm job salaries increase fairly rapidly to the 200K+ range in big cities, but can top out below 200K in smaller markets. Government jobs basically never pay over 160K, but can quickly approach or exceed 6 figures if you have a job with the feds.

Worth pointing out that even in good times, only about 10% of all law grads were looking at big firm type placement, and probably not many more than that with the federal government.

Smaller firms usually mean smaller salaries, often in the 40-50K range. Some jobs exist between the two extremes, but they are harder to get. How salary increases at smaller firms is fairly mysterious to me, and in general hard to pin down given the individualized nature of the work.

jason8821
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Re: Salary trends

Postby jason8821 » Mon Apr 05, 2010 9:16 am

disco_barred wrote:
jason8821 wrote:I am looking to hear from a practicing attorney. My question is how quickly, and how much does salary increase as a lawyer? I know this is a very broad question, but if someone could elaborate that would be great? I know big law starts out at 150K or (average) but at what rate does that increase? How about government jobs, or working at smaller, mid-size firms. Obviously there other several variables, but I appreciate any insight. For the sake of discussion, let's assume that the economy picks up. (I know it's optomistic)

Thanks.


Big firm job salaries increase fairly rapidly to the 200K+ range in big cities, but can top out below 200K in smaller markets. Government jobs basically never pay over 160K, but can quickly approach or exceed 6 figures if you have a job with the feds.

Worth pointing out that even in good times, only about 10% of all law grads were looking at big firm type placement, and probably not many more than that with the federal government.

Smaller firms usually mean smaller salaries, often in the 40-50K range. Some jobs exist between the two extremes, but they are harder to get. How salary increases at smaller firms is fairly mysterious to me, and in general hard to pin down given the individualized nature of the work.


Thank you, that was helpful. Can you give an example of smaller markets. Obviously, NYC, Chicago, LA, San Fran have bigger markets, but would Pitts Buffalo be considered smaller?

I guess I am just confused because I never hear of attorneys making 40-50k. Perhaps some are embaressed and don't admit it? I grew up in a real rural area and my dad is good friends with a few attorneys around here. I asked him if they made 6 figures (older attorneys) and he laughed at me like I was joking. Also my friend who works in a major in loan disbursement said that he couldn't believe lawyers salaries in a small town. People at a 6 person firm, who just turned 30 making 150,000+.

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Re: Salary trends

Postby 270910 » Mon Apr 05, 2010 9:33 am

jason8821 wrote:I guess I am just confused because I never hear of attorneys making 40-50k.


This is a good example of why so many people on this board think that the rapid spread of law schools and rise in tuition is terrible. Most people looking for a career in the law assume that it's lucrative, prestigious, and intellectual. There is no doubt that it can be, but the data are not kind in that regard.

Every year ~45,000 people graduate from law school. The federal government estimates ~30,000 new legal jobs every year. Of those, very roughly 5,000 pay 6 figure starting salaries (in a good year, it was much less when the recession hit).

The vast majority of other legal jobs have much, much lower starting salaries. The following data is greatly skewed towards $160,000 starting salaries, likely due to response bias.

--ImageRemoved--

For a good sense of how various schools do at placing grads (though it is outdated; all schools are hurting more in this economy) see:

http://www.law.com/pdf/nlj/20080414empl ... trends.pdf

The most recent, but still quite outdated, data is here: http://www.law.com/jsp/nlj/PubArticleNL ... 2443758843

NLJ 250 is a list of the 250 biggest firms, most of which pay 6 figure starting salaries. Few firms outside of the NLJ 250 do, but there are certainly some. Still, NLJ 250 placement - while east coast and big firm biased - is a very good rough measure of a school's ability to place grads into lucrative jobs.

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reasonable_man
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Re: Salary trends

Postby reasonable_man » Mon Apr 05, 2010 9:47 am

I am a lawyer working in his second year of full time post law school employment at a "midlaw" firm in the NYC area. My salary is in the range of 70 to 80k. From what I see, bumps of 5 to 10k are about average for mid-sized firms. The hours are still lousy (though not as bad as biglaw), and the work is still very draining. For the most part, I like what I do, but this is not a get-rich-quick profession.

SBimmer
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Re: Salary trends

Postby SBimmer » Mon Apr 05, 2010 10:13 am

reasonable_man: Do you mind telling us where your Law School ranked (a range is good)?

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reasonable_man
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Re: Salary trends

Postby reasonable_man » Mon Apr 05, 2010 11:08 am

SBimmer wrote:reasonable_man: Do you mind telling us where your Law School ranked (a range is good)?



TTT

tar2009
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Re: Salary trends

Postby tar2009 » Mon Apr 05, 2010 11:21 am

what about lawyers working for businesses? how much would a disney lawyer make, for example, compared to a smaller, local or statewide business?

SBimmer
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Re: Salary trends

Postby SBimmer » Mon Apr 05, 2010 11:22 am

reasonable_man wrote:
SBimmer wrote:reasonable_man: Do you mind telling us where your Law School ranked (a range is good)?



TTT


Thanks.

09042014
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Re: Salary trends

Postby 09042014 » Mon Apr 05, 2010 11:40 am

tar2009 wrote:what about lawyers working for businesses? how much would a disney lawyer make, for example, compared to a smaller, local or statewide business?


My international company is looking for a contract attorney with two years experience and is looking to pay 60-70K.

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Re: Salary trends

Postby 270910 » Mon Apr 05, 2010 12:04 pm

betasteve wrote:Also, I'd be careful suggesting that some reporting bias exists absent evidence. I'm not saying you are wrong... I am just saying that it flies in the face of statistics to present data then make unsubstantiated claims regarding the sample set.


I make the assertion about reporting bias based on looking at the response rate, sample size, and other sources of data about the total # of jobs likely available that pay >= $160,000 starting.

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OperaSoprano
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Re: Salary trends

Postby OperaSoprano » Mon Apr 05, 2010 12:10 pm

disco_barred wrote:
betasteve wrote:Also, I'd be careful suggesting that some reporting bias exists absent evidence. I'm not saying you are wrong... I am just saying that it flies in the face of statistics to present data then make unsubstantiated claims regarding the sample set.


I make the assertion about reporting bias based on looking at the response rate, sample size, and other sources of data about the total # of jobs likely available that pay >= $160,000 starting.


It wouldn't surprise me in the least. At every school I looked at, a higher percentage of graduates in private practice reported their salaries than those in government or PI. I think we got something like 96% of private practice grads reporting salary, and 93% reporting salary overall.

I do think the 30,000/45,000 benchmark is scary, though. I'm not expecting six figures, but I will not be thrilled if I can't get a legal job.

jason8821
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Re: Salary trends

Postby jason8821 » Mon Apr 05, 2010 12:12 pm

I certainly understand that there are plenty of people out there that make 40-50k as attorneys, but I know a hand full of attorneys in my shit county (65,000 people) one of the poorest in the state. Every attorney here lives in a beautiful home. I mean beautiful as in would easily run someone 1-2 million if they lived in a New York/LA suburb. That was the entire reason for my question. It would seem that the only way this is possible is if these 40-50k salaries turn into 150K salaries for a large majority of lawyers as they age into their late 40's and early 50's. However, most people on here seem to think it's really hard to ever hit the high 100's or 200k without working in big law.

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nealric
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Re: Salary trends

Postby nealric » Mon Apr 05, 2010 12:29 pm

I certainly understand that there are plenty of people out there that make 40-50k as attorneys, but I know a hand full of attorneys in my shit county (65,000 people) one of the poorest in the state. Every attorney here lives in a beautiful home. I mean beautiful as in would easily run someone 1-2 million if they lived in a New York/LA suburb. That was the entire reason for my question. It would seem that the only way this is possible is if these 40-50k salaries turn into 150K salaries for a large majority of lawyers as they age into their late 40's and early 50's. However, most people on here seem to think it's really hard to ever hit the high 100's or 200k without working in big law.


I think a big issue is that the legal field has changed a lot since lawyers who are in their 40s-60s went to school. The reality those guys faced out of law school is very different from the reality that will be faced by new graduates today. There were a lot fewer law school back then, and much less of a glut. There were a lot more opportunities for young lawyers to get trained and get their own practice started. Young lawyers were not in as much debt, and much more able to struggle for a few years while getting a practice started.

Also, older lawyers are disproportionately successful because unsuccessful lawyers usually leave the law before they get older- so you get a skewed picture by looking at those who are established.

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reasonable_man
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Re: Salary trends

Postby reasonable_man » Mon Apr 05, 2010 5:52 pm

nealric wrote:
I certainly understand that there are plenty of people out there that make 40-50k as attorneys, but I know a hand full of attorneys in my shit county (65,000 people) one of the poorest in the state. Every attorney here lives in a beautiful home. I mean beautiful as in would easily run someone 1-2 million if they lived in a New York/LA suburb. That was the entire reason for my question. It would seem that the only way this is possible is if these 40-50k salaries turn into 150K salaries for a large majority of lawyers as they age into their late 40's and early 50's. However, most people on here seem to think it's really hard to ever hit the high 100's or 200k without working in big law.


I think a big issue is that the legal field has changed a lot since lawyers who are in their 40s-60s went to school. The reality those guys faced out of law school is very different from the reality that will be faced by new graduates today. There were a lot fewer law school back then, and much less of a glut. There were a lot more opportunities for young lawyers to get trained and get their own practice started. Young lawyers were not in as much debt, and much more able to struggle for a few years while getting a practice started.

Also, older lawyers are disproportionately successful because unsuccessful lawyers usually leave the law before they get older- so you get a skewed picture by looking at those who are established.


I agree.

articulably suspect
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Re: Salary trends

Postby articulably suspect » Mon Apr 05, 2010 6:41 pm

disco_barred wrote:
jason8821 wrote:I am looking to hear from a practicing attorney. My question is how quickly, and how much does salary increase as a lawyer? I know this is a very broad question, but if someone could elaborate that would be great? I know big law starts out at 150K or (average) but at what rate does that increase? How about government jobs, or working at smaller, mid-size firms. Obviously there other several variables, but I appreciate any insight. For the sake of discussion, let's assume that the economy picks up. (I know it's optomistic)

Thanks.


Big firm job salaries increase fairly rapidly to the 200K+ range in big cities, but can top out below 200K in smaller markets. Government jobs basically never pay over 160K, but can quickly approach or exceed 6 figures if you have a job with the feds.

Worth pointing out that even in good times, only about 10% of all law grads were looking at big firm type placement, and probably not many more than that with the federal government.

Smaller firms usually mean smaller salaries, often in the 40-50K range. Some jobs exist between the two extremes, but they are harder to get. How salary increases at smaller firms is fairly mysterious to me, and in general hard to pin down given the individualized nature of the work.



Local government attorney positions(Public Defender/DA/other attorney positions) in my area, which is not a major city/most desired location/but not bumblefuck, many attorneys in the top tier positions make over 150K. There are also Supervising Attorney V’s who are bringing in just under 150K.

Also, an attorney in our office who started his career as a DDA surpassed 100K in approximately five years, he wasn’t anything special, that’s just how it is(was, I’m not in the loop anymore). I know this because I worked with him and have viewed the public records documenting salary increases for every employee who worked for the DA’s Office over the years. I can only speak to my knowledge of government positions in my geographic location, could be very different elsewhere. BTW, I didn’t work there as a prosecutor.

jason8821
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Re: Salary trends

Postby jason8821 » Mon Apr 05, 2010 7:04 pm

reasonable_man wrote:
nealric wrote:
I certainly understand that there are plenty of people out there that make 40-50k as attorneys, but I know a hand full of attorneys in my shit county (65,000 people) one of the poorest in the state. Every attorney here lives in a beautiful home. I mean beautiful as in would easily run someone 1-2 million if they lived in a New York/LA suburb. That was the entire reason for my question. It would seem that the only way this is possible is if these 40-50k salaries turn into 150K salaries for a large majority of lawyers as they age into their late 40's and early 50's. However, most people on here seem to think it's really hard to ever hit the high 100's or 200k without working in big law.


I think a big issue is that the legal field has changed a lot since lawyers who are in their 40s-60s went to school. The reality those guys faced out of law school is very different from the reality that will be faced by new graduates today. There were a lot fewer law school back then, and much less of a glut. There were a lot more opportunities for young lawyers to get trained and get their own practice started. Young lawyers were not in as much debt, and much more able to struggle for a few years while getting a practice started.

Also, older lawyers are disproportionately successful because unsuccessful lawyers usually leave the law before they get older- so you get a skewed picture by looking at those who are established.


I agree.



Those are all great points, and perhaps the legal field is damned, but I certainly don't think it is more so than many other professions. I am almost certain that more people are saying "Hey engineers, and pharmacists make good money and it's a secure, semi-recession proof job" + "I'm smart". It certainly won't be long until fields like IT, and Engineering and even pharmacy are equally as saturated IMO. There is not some magical aura surrounding law school that makes it so much more attractive than the other fields, it's the money. It is because for the last few decades 90% of semi educated people think 1.) Doctor 2.) Lawyer 3.) Many of the fields above, and now that people are realizing this is not true, they gravitate in other directions (I think). Also if one would take a look at the average salary range of a lawyer at salary vs Electrical Engineer, and looks at the lower 10% of those, you notice that a lawyer still makes the higher salary, and even if they were equal, I would pay an extra 3-5/year in loans for 30 years to do something I enjoy. This of course detracts from the idea that people out of big law are better off in other fields due to debt.

I believe it is the horror stories surrounding law school graduates that are well publicized that may in effect save the legal field from being extremely over saturated in the future, again it's optimistic, but we'll see.
Last edited by jason8821 on Mon Apr 05, 2010 7:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Salary trends

Postby 270910 » Mon Apr 05, 2010 7:05 pm

jason8821 wrote:Those are all great points, and perhaps the legal field is damned, but I certainly don't think it is more so than many other professions. I am almost certain that more people are saying "Hey engineers, and pharmacists make good money and it's a secure, semi-recession proof job" + "I'm smart". It certainly won't be long until fields like IT, and Engineering and even pharmacy are equally as saturated IMO. There is not some magical aura surrounding law school that makes it so much more attractive than the other fields, it's the money. It is because for the last few decades 90% of semi educated people think 1.) Doctor 2.) Lawyer 3.) Many of the fields above, and now that people are realizing this is not true, they gravitate in other directions (I think). Also if one would take a look at the average salary range of a lawyer at salary vs Electrical Engineer, and looks at the lower 10% of those, you notice that a lawyer still makes the higher salary, and even if they were equal, I would pay an extra 3-5/year in loans for 30 years to do something I enjoy. This of course detracts from the idea that people out of big law are better off in other fields due to debt.


*face palm*

The legal field is damned. This thread is full of LAW STUDENTS looking for jobs and a REAL LIVE LAWYER. Every single one of us knows DOZENS of people exposed to various points in the legal profession. We are living the live-action horror movie that is the legal economy, and we'd seen how it was bad even BEFORE the crash if you weren't at a handful of top law schools.

But nah, what am I saying. Your witty insights and generalizations are probably right.

Relax kid, you'll get in everywhere you apply.

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Re: Salary trends

Postby 270910 » Mon Apr 05, 2010 7:08 pm

jason8821 wrote:I believe it is the horror stories surrounding law school graduates that are well publicized that may in effect save the legal field from being extremely over saturated in the future, again it's optimistic, but we'll see.


Are you daft? LSAT administrations are up double digit percentages from last year. Schools are getting huge increases in applications. New law schools are being opened across the country and seats are being added to existing law schools.

270910
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Re: Salary trends

Postby 270910 » Mon Apr 05, 2010 7:31 pm

jason8821 wrote:What if 95% of people that come to forums come to argue and bitch, I think i do.
There are other forums in other places where every single person is looking for a job, have you been to them? I have. There are people from all jobs bitching about how bad it sucks, and how they can't feed their familys but were making 100k/year 3 years ago.

I don't know you, you might be a genius, you might have rocked the lsat, may be a big law attorney, or a world class chess player, but every single sentence in your previous is post is fucking retarded.


:lol:

Edit: where'd your post go? What's going on?

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XxSpyKEx
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Re: Salary trends

Postby XxSpyKEx » Mon Apr 05, 2010 7:40 pm

disco_barred wrote:Every year ~45,000 people graduate from law school. The federal government estimates ~30,000 new legal jobs every year.


This can't be right... Are you saying that roughly 1/3 of law school grads will not be able to find any legal job (not even jobs that pay $40K /year or less)?

jason8821
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Re: Salary trends

Postby jason8821 » Mon Apr 05, 2010 7:44 pm

disco_barred wrote:
jason8821 wrote:What if 95% of people that come to forums come to argue and bitch, I think i do.
There are other forums in other places where every single person is looking for a job, have you been to them? I have. There are people from all jobs bitching about how bad it sucks, and how they can't feed their familys but were making 100k/year 3 years ago.

I don't know you, you might be a genius, you might have rocked the lsat, may be a big law attorney, or a world class chess player, but every single sentence in your previous is post is fucking retarded.


:lol:

Edit: where'd your post go? What's going on?


To be honest, I thought it lacked decorum, however, if you are going to quote my post, you should at least quote it in it's entirety. None the less, I don't think it adds to the discussion.

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UrbanAchievers
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Re: Salary trends

Postby UrbanAchievers » Mon Apr 05, 2010 7:47 pm

XxSpyKEx wrote:
disco_barred wrote:Every year ~45,000 people graduate from law school. The federal government estimates ~30,000 new legal jobs every year.


This can't be right... Are you saying that roughly 1/3 of law school grads will not be able to find any legal job (not even jobs that pay $40K /year or less)?

That's new legal jobs. Factor in the number of people leaving the legal profession. Not enough to drive that unemployment figure down to 0%, but it's enough to be believable.

270910
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Re: Salary trends

Postby 270910 » Mon Apr 05, 2010 7:49 pm

XxSpyKEx wrote:
disco_barred wrote:Every year ~45,000 people graduate from law school. The federal government estimates ~30,000 new legal jobs every year.


This can't be right... Are you saying that roughly 1/3 of law school grads will not be able to find any legal job (not even jobs that pay $40K /year or less)?


Sure am. Welcome to the economy!

the Bureau of Labor Statistics wrote:Job prospects. Competition for job openings should continue to be keen because of the large number of students graduating from law school each year. Graduates with superior academic records from highly regarded law schools will have the best job opportunities. Perhaps as a result of competition for attorney positions, lawyers are increasingly finding work in less traditional areas for which legal training is an asset, but not normally a requirement


I wish I could find the actual number, but I'm sure it came from BLS. I'll keep poking around.

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OperaSoprano
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Re: Salary trends

Postby OperaSoprano » Mon Apr 05, 2010 7:52 pm

disco_barred wrote:
XxSpyKEx wrote:
disco_barred wrote:Every year ~45,000 people graduate from law school. The federal government estimates ~30,000 new legal jobs every year.


This can't be right... Are you saying that roughly 1/3 of law school grads will not be able to find any legal job (not even jobs that pay $40K /year or less)?


Sure am. Welcome to the economy!

the Bureau of Labor Statistics wrote:Job prospects. Competition for job openings should continue to be keen because of the large number of students graduating from law school each year. Graduates with superior academic records from highly regarded law schools will have the best job opportunities. Perhaps as a result of competition for attorney positions, lawyers are increasingly finding work in less traditional areas for which legal training is an asset, but not normally a requirement


I wish I could find the actual number, but I'm sure it came from BLS. I'll keep poking around.


I've also seen that statistic. You didn't hallucinate.




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