Small Firm Starting Salaries

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Small Firm Starting Salaries

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Aug 30, 2011 12:07 am

Looking for some advice/discussion for starting salaries for small firms. I hear so many different things, from hourly starting to reasonable salaries (and increases for admittance to bar). Also, how big of difference is it between plaintiff and defense side firms? Any anecdotes (considering this is anonymous) would be appreciated

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Re: Small Firm Starting Salaries

Postby romothesavior » Tue Aug 30, 2011 12:11 am

I know this isn't the answer you are looking for, but it depends on so many factors that it is impossible to say. What do you define as small? What type of city? What kind of work?

Small ID/DUI/criminal defense firm in a small town? 30-35k probably is standard. Top notch little boutique firm in a big city? 6-figures (if they even take on new graduates).

Your OP is so broad and vague that no one could even begin to answer it, so a little clarification is definitely necessary.

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Re: Small Firm Starting Salaries

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Aug 30, 2011 12:33 am


I agree that it the topic is very broad. To me, small would be in the 8-10 size and I would not be counting a boutique (since you usually need experience or something else special to begin a career there). I more want to see what some law firms are offering, rather than have a discussion about what it means to be a small law firm. For example, I have a friend who got an offer for 50k a year and another friend who is getting paid 15/hr until he is admitted and then will be bumped up to salary. These firms are a little bigger, around 20.

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Re: Small Firm Starting Salaries

Postby minnbills » Tue Aug 30, 2011 12:39 am

Well, biglaw firms pay a market rate, so it's very easy to figure out what people make as 1st years.

There isn't such a standard for smaller non-corporate type firms.

The easy answer is: not a whole lot. You could be making 15/hr or 70k a year depending on a big range of factors.

I know a family friend who is a partner at a small firm that defends insurance companies from claims. He pays new associates (who they only hire every few years) maybe 35k.

Another I know of defends trucking companies from claims, the partners make quite a bit (200k+) and the associates are probably closer to 50k.

From what I understand, the real question is what kind of value you can bring to the firm right off the bat. Small law firms don't have the resources to support a long learning curve. Being able to hit the ground running will make you a more attractive candidate and may lead to a higher starting salary if you're able to get your foot in the right door.

But again, there's no market standard so it's totally variable.

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Re: Small Firm Starting Salaries

Postby yo! » Tue Aug 30, 2011 1:35 am

Depends what you consider small. I've been interviewing with a few firms that have 25-50 attys and pay 70-100k. I you are talking about 10 or less, I'd guess that anywhere between 35 and 60k would be normal.

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