How much do biglaw lawyers make?

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albieman
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How much do biglaw lawyers make?

Postby albieman » Sat Oct 16, 2010 2:42 pm

Generally speaking, for primary markets (Chicago, Boston, NYC, DC, etc) what do biglaw lawyers make (salary & bonus) in the following categories:

Associate 1-4 years out;
Associate 4-7 years out;
Junior Partner 7-12 years out;
Partner 12-20 years out;
Partner 20+years

buzzkillington
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Re: How much do biglaw lawyers make?

Postby buzzkillington » Sat Oct 16, 2010 3:11 pm

Associate 1-4 years out: 120-240k
Associate 4-7 years out: 200-350k
Junior Partner 7-12 years out: 400k-1.2MM (probably takes longer to make partner)
Partner 12-20 years out: 600k-4MM+
Partner 20+years: 600k-4MM+


* Just from my impressions/research

** The range for partners (at the high and low end) varies significantly

CLS2011
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Re: How much do biglaw lawyers make?

Postby CLS2011 » Sat Oct 16, 2010 3:14 pm

Why are either of these anonymous?

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Bosque
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Re: How much do biglaw lawyers make?

Postby Bosque » Sat Oct 16, 2010 3:14 pm

First of all, there is no reason for this to be anonymous.

Second, it varies by firm. Most have a lockstep compensation tier system for associates based on year. Go to http://www.nalpdirectory.com to get an idea of the compensation for a firm you are interested in. the information there might not be completely accurate though. For V100, you are probably looking at a starting salary of 145k-160k, with raises every year of 5k-20k. Also bonuses, usually tied to hours.

Third, the chances of you making partner are pretty slim, and the compensation amount really changes depending on who you are and the firm you work for. So I wouldn't worry about it at this point. You should be more concerned with which firm is going to teach you the most and be most helpful to building the career you want.

CanadianWolf
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Re: How much do biglaw lawyers make?

Postby CanadianWolf » Sat Oct 16, 2010 3:16 pm

I wonder about a 6 or 7 year associate making $350,000. Is that accurate for NYC, Chicago &/or Wash. DC ? I think that it may be lower.

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Bosque
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Re: How much do biglaw lawyers make?

Postby Bosque » Sat Oct 16, 2010 3:19 pm

CanadianWolf wrote:I wonder about a 6 or 7 year associate making $350,000. Is that accurate for NYC, Chicago &/or Wash. DC ?


After Bonus? I think that is probably right. Most firms don't have very many 7th year associates. If they are still around, they are partner track. So it is not like very many associates are getting those big piles of money, and the ones that are are looking at even bigger piles of money very soon.

LurkerNoMore
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Re: How much do biglaw lawyers make?

Postby LurkerNoMore » Sat Oct 16, 2010 3:31 pm

Lockstep puts you at about $230-270k around year 6-8. Bonuses have not been that great.

Also, junior partners generally don't see much of a salary bump. Between the loss of benefits and paying off the buy-in, you are often lucky to make the same as you did as a senior associate.

rando
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Re: How much do biglaw lawyers make?

Postby rando » Sat Oct 16, 2010 3:46 pm

LurkerNoMore wrote:Lockstep puts you at about $230-270k around year 6-8. Bonuses have not been that great.

Also, junior partners generally don't see much of a salary bump. Between the loss of benefits and paying off the buy-in, you are often lucky to make the same as you did as a senior associate.


I am pretty sure this is credited. I recall reading an article at some point that said the average Amlaw250 junior partner made in the mid 300's. And the average partner without "junior" distinction was about 500k.

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JG Hall
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Re: How much do biglaw lawyers make?

Postby JG Hall » Sat Oct 16, 2010 4:19 pm

also note the difference between equity and non-equity partners. for different firms, the titles indicate different stages in the career path.

rando
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Re: How much do biglaw lawyers make?

Postby rando » Sat Oct 16, 2010 4:29 pm

JG Hall wrote:also note the difference between equity and non-equity partners. for different firms, the titles indicate different stages in the career path.


Yeah, I wasn't going to even bring in that can of worms. But that can make a huge difference, making it very hard to pin down partner salaries.

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IzziesGal
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Re: How much do biglaw lawyers make?

Postby IzziesGal » Sat Oct 16, 2010 5:55 pm

This definitely shouldn't be anonymous. Also, the information is easily accessible through either NALP or the Vault guides (or a quick google search, for that matter).

Market rate in NYC, DC, and some firms in San Fran is:

1st year - 160k
2nd year - 170k
3rd year - 185k
4th year - 210k
5th year - 230k
6th year - 250k
7th year - 265k
8th year - 280k

with summer associate salaries being between 3000-3100 per week based on this pay scale. This is not including yearly bonuses or sign on bonuses.

For partner info, that will vary depending on the firm, and as another poster said, whether it's lockstep compensation or not.

Anonymous User
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Re: How much do biglaw lawyers make?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Oct 16, 2010 8:22 pm

A close family member of mine is a partner at a major firm.

They make less than you would think. You have to remember that the AmLaw reported PPP overstates what they're actually taking home, and outside of the (very few) lockstep firms, the median compensation is much lower than the average compensation.

In other words, don't plan on getting rich as a lawyer, even if you "make it". You do well, but not fantastically.

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nealric
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Re: How much do biglaw lawyers make?

Postby nealric » Sat Oct 16, 2010 8:24 pm

Anonymous User wrote:A close family member of mine is a partner at a major firm.

They make less than you would think. You have to remember that the AmLaw reported PPP overstates what they're actually taking home, and outside of the (very few) lockstep firms, the median compensation is much lower than the average compensation.

In other words, don't plan on getting rich as a lawyer, even if you "make it". You do well, but not fantastically.


This is true. Bigtime rainmakers can make several multiples of what a rank and file partner might. If you want to get fabulously wealthy as a lawyer, biglaw isn't the way to do it.

MissLucky
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Re: How much do biglaw lawyers make?

Postby MissLucky » Sat Oct 16, 2010 8:30 pm

nealric wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:A close family member of mine is a partner at a major firm.

They make less than you would think. You have to remember that the AmLaw reported PPP overstates what they're actually taking home, and outside of the (very few) lockstep firms, the median compensation is much lower than the average compensation.

In other words, don't plan on getting rich as a lawyer, even if you "make it". You do well, but not fantastically.


This is true. Bigtime rainmakers can make several multiples of what a rank and file partner might. If you want to get fabulously wealthy as a lawyer, biglaw isn't the way to do it.


then what is the way to do it?

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Bosque
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Re: How much do biglaw lawyers make?

Postby Bosque » Sat Oct 16, 2010 8:38 pm

MissLucky wrote:
nealric wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:A close family member of mine is a partner at a major firm.

They make less than you would think. You have to remember that the AmLaw reported PPP overstates what they're actually taking home, and outside of the (very few) lockstep firms, the median compensation is much lower than the average compensation.

In other words, don't plan on getting rich as a lawyer, even if you "make it". You do well, but not fantastically.


This is true. Bigtime rainmakers can make several multiples of what a rank and file partner might. If you want to get fabulously wealthy as a lawyer, biglaw isn't the way to do it.


then what is the way to do it?


Create the next big thing. Start the next Google, the next Microsoft, the next Facebook. Do what they did: CREATE a need, don't just satisfy one. If you want to become fabulously wealthy before you turn 65, that is really the only way to do it.

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Rotor
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Re: How much do biglaw lawyers make?

Postby Rotor » Sat Oct 16, 2010 8:54 pm

If you want to get fabulously wealthy as a lawyer, biglaw isn't the way to do it.

The way I like to explain it: You likely won't get fabulously wealthy as a lawyer. You'll work for the guy who is.

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DoubleChecks
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Re: How much do biglaw lawyers make?

Postby DoubleChecks » Sat Oct 16, 2010 8:56 pm

Anonymous User wrote:A close family member of mine is a partner at a major firm.

They make less than you would think. You have to remember that the AmLaw reported PPP overstates what they're actually taking home, and outside of the (very few) lockstep firms, the median compensation is much lower than the average compensation.

In other words, don't plan on getting rich as a lawyer, even if you "make it". You do well, but not fantastically.


um, sry, i know this is all pretty relative so...what exactly do YOU perceive as "doing well" vs. "doing fantastically"? feel free to put it in economic terms

buzzkillington
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Re: How much do biglaw lawyers make?

Postby buzzkillington » Sat Oct 16, 2010 10:01 pm

DoubleChecks wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:A close family member of mine is a partner at a major firm.

They make less than you would think. You have to remember that the AmLaw reported PPP overstates what they're actually taking home, and outside of the (very few) lockstep firms, the median compensation is much lower than the average compensation.

In other words, don't plan on getting rich as a lawyer, even if you "make it". You do well, but not fantastically.


um, sry, i know this is all pretty relative so...what exactly do YOU perceive as "doing well" vs. "doing fantastically"? feel free to put it in economic terms



Apparently, doing fantastically is being a billionaire.

ToTransferOrNot
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Re: How much do biglaw lawyers make?

Postby ToTransferOrNot » Sat Oct 16, 2010 10:06 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
DoubleChecks wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:A close family member of mine is a partner at a major firm.

They make less than you would think. You have to remember that the AmLaw reported PPP overstates what they're actually taking home, and outside of the (very few) lockstep firms, the median compensation is much lower than the average compensation.

In other words, don't plan on getting rich as a lawyer, even if you "make it". You do well, but not fantastically.


um, sry, i know this is all pretty relative so...what exactly do YOU perceive as "doing well" vs. "doing fantastically"? feel free to put it in economic terms



Apparently, doing fantastically is being a billionaire.


My thoughts exactly. Jesus, people on this board display a complete lack of sense at times.

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JG Hall
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Re: How much do biglaw lawyers make?

Postby JG Hall » Sat Oct 16, 2010 10:10 pm

richest lawyers are not in biglaw.

the best way to make money as a lawyer is to win some seriously massive torts lit (plaintiff side). not a risk worth taking.

http://amlawdaily.typepad.com/amlawdail ... wyers.html (these people have JDs, but they're not really lawyers)

what's with the anon-ing?

ruski
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Re: How much do biglaw lawyers make?

Postby ruski » Sat Oct 16, 2010 11:35 pm

what exactly is the "buy-in" for equity partners? they just have to put up some cash? it just sounds like they are making a donation to the firm, which doesnt sound right; i assume it's more complicated than that? and for a big nyc law firm, how much is the buy-in usually? 100k? 500k? does anyone know how it works?

colovia
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Re: How much do biglaw lawyers make?

Postby colovia » Sat Oct 16, 2010 11:43 pm

ruski wrote:what exactly is the "buy-in" for equity partners? they just have to put up some cash? it just sounds like they are making a donation to the firm, which doesnt sound right; i assume it's more complicated than that? and for a big nyc law firm, how much is the buy-in usually? 100k? 500k? does anyone know how it works?


I don't know how much it would be (I imagine substantial), but it's equity. You own part of the firm and get your contribution back when you retire and cash out.

Renzo
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Re: How much do biglaw lawyers make?

Postby Renzo » Sat Oct 16, 2010 11:57 pm

ruski wrote:what exactly is the "buy-in" for equity partners? they just have to put up some cash? it just sounds like they are making a donation to the firm, which doesnt sound right; i assume it's more complicated than that? and for a big nyc law firm, how much is the buy-in usually? 100k? 500k? does anyone know how it works?

It will depend by firm; there are all kinds of ways it can be structured. But the general idea is you contribute some cash up front, and some portion of your profits every year to provide the firm with operating capital. When you withdraw from the partnership, or reach the mandatory retirement age, you get this money back (with or without interest, depending on the model).

bdubs
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Re: How much do biglaw lawyers make?

Postby bdubs » Sun Oct 17, 2010 12:03 am

ruski wrote:what exactly is the "buy-in" for equity partners? they just have to put up some cash? it just sounds like they are making a donation to the firm, which doesnt sound right; i assume it's more complicated than that? and for a big nyc law firm, how much is the buy-in usually? 100k? 500k? does anyone know how it works?


Most law firms still operate under a partnership structure (hence the title partner). There are usually both equity and non-equity partners at firms. Equity partners buy into the firm based on the value of the firm's equity. I don't know specifically how firms determine their equity values since by definition there is no market value (partnerships are always private).

My guess is that they hire an accountant or financial analyst who has business valuation expertise to determine the value of the equity. This is just a guess though, its possible that the existing partners just set a value of the equity based on some performance metric and it is up to the individual to determine if this is reasonable.

Anyway, if someone is offered an equity partnership spot they have to purchase their equity in the firm (referred to by most as a "buy-in"). This is almost always financed as it can be quite a bit of money. As an equity partner that individual is then entitled to a share of distributed profits after the firm pays all of its employees and makes whatever investments in property (capital) are needed.

The rates of return on partnership stakes are usually pretty generous which is why everyone wants to be an equity partner. That being said, equity in a law firm is a very illiquid investment. Also, it is not unheard of for firms to collapse if a few big rainmakers leave for other firms.

Sorry, hit the anonymous button by accident.

Renzo
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Re: How much do biglaw lawyers make?

Postby Renzo » Sun Oct 17, 2010 12:10 am

^^ this is a vague description of one of many, many ways it can be done. Some firms have laughably low buy-ins, but retain large chunks of the PPP every year. Some have huge buy-ins, but loan you the money to make them. Some have fixed number of partnership units, some use firm valuation, some use other methods.




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