How much do Public Interest Lawyers generally max out at?

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the lantern
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Re: How much do Public Interest Lawyers generally max out at?

Postby the lantern » Wed Jan 13, 2010 8:27 am

Anonymous Loser wrote:Anthony Romero (Executive Director of the ACLU) only makes $345,000.


Source: http://www.aclu.org/files/pdfs/about/fy ... lu_990.pdf (page 19)


If you look up how much he made in previous years, it is significantly more. There are also other high level executive positions that are well paid. I am not trying to make any sort of crazy point, I'm just saying that "public interest" lawyers can make anything from 0 to millions of dollars, which is what the OP asked. You can also look at less poorly-managed non profits and find people who make millions.

bahama
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Re: How much do Public Interest Lawyers generally max out at?

Postby bahama » Wed Jan 13, 2010 9:49 am

There is a big difference in what the top few people in the PI field worldwide make and what 99.9% of people going into this field will ever make.

A lot of the top people in PI had a successful career in something like business first and their PI salary is a big pay cut from what they were doing before. Also, probably a minority of people running these orgs are lawyers. The main job of the exec dir of most non-profits is fundraising. So it is not like there is a well defined career path from law school to the upper levels of a PI org. The odds of making it to one of these top PI jobs are worse than the odds of making partner at a big firm.

Most executive directors at these places top out around 200k or even much lower since they are funded primarily by donations and every dollar spent on
salaries or benefits or even copies and toner is money that isn't available for the mission of the group. So it is not as if you are going to start out at $40k and be making $100k in 5-10 years, a lot of these places can't afford that. This is why you see mostly people in their 20s who are just starting out or people in their 50s who are financially secure in these jobs, not many 30-40 somethings with 2 kids and a mortgage to pay.

For federal govt, you could be at around 100k in 4-6 yrs after law school and top out around $150k after 20+ yrs.

Anonymous Loser
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Re: How much do Public Interest Lawyers generally max out at?

Postby Anonymous Loser » Wed Jan 13, 2010 10:08 am

the lantern wrote:
Anonymous Loser wrote:Anthony Romero (Executive Director of the ACLU) only makes $345,000.


Source: http://www.aclu.org/files/pdfs/about/fy ... lu_990.pdf (page 19)


If you look up how much he made in previous years, it is significantly more. There are also other high level executive positions that are well paid. I am not trying to make any sort of crazy point, I'm just saying that "public interest" lawyers can make anything from 0 to millions of dollars, which is what the OP asked. You can also look at less poorly-managed non profits and find people who make millions.


Show me where the "significantly more" part is: all I can find in the detailed financial information available on the ACLU's website are lower past salary amounts.

    2007: $321,360
    2006: $309,000

Personally, I couldn't care less about PI salaries, but I just can't believe that TLS posters are so comfortable spouting off unsubstantiated nonsense.

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MURPH
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Re: How much do Public Interest Lawyers generally max out at?

Postby MURPH » Wed Jan 13, 2010 10:15 am

I volunteer at the ACLU in Honolulu. We have a staff lawyer from Harvard and another from Loyola, LA. My impression is that most of the others (that I don't work with) are from Harvard. Two of the three 1L interns were from Harvard last summer. I get the impression that T5 and some T10 graduates generally run the organization on a nationwide scale because whenever I see or hear about where some lawyer graduated from it is always yale, Harvard, columbia, berkeley or Stanford. The positions in PI are known to be pretty competitive too, maybe not as tough to get into as big law but not easy by any means. The Harvard grad I work with clerked at the state supreme court here and worked in a local law firm before joining, for example. One of the reasons that the organization is so successful is that they have a huge pool of lawyers from other firms who will help with a case or two per year without having to receive a paycheck for it.

I have no hard evidence but that is the impression I've gotten from 8 months of helping out around the office. I have no idea what kind of $ they make on staff.

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ndnlawdc
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Re: How much do Public Interest Lawyers generally max out at?

Postby ndnlawdc » Wed Jan 13, 2010 11:44 am

For government, you have every reason to expect to be at $120k within 5-7 years and $150k (plus whatever the annual raises are between now and then) in 15 or so years. That's in DC.

bahama
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Re: How much do Public Interest Lawyers generally max out at?

Postby bahama » Wed Jan 13, 2010 12:55 pm

ndnlawdc wrote:For government, you have every reason to expect to be at $120k within 5-7 years and $150k (plus whatever the annual raises are between now and then) in 15 or so years. That's in DC.

I would argue your numbers are "best case" but generally in the ball park.

To make $120 in 5-7 yrs you'd have to be promoted to GS-15. This is possible but I wouldn't go as far as calling it expected in that time frame. Promotions up to GS-14 are much easier to come by than going from 14 - 15.

To make $150k you'd have to be a GS15 in at least Step 8. IIRC this would take about 11 years after being promoted to GS15 so it will take a little longer than 15yrs overall.

Bottom line the govt route can certainly provide a decent middle class lifestyle.

PoliticalJunkie
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Re: How much do Public Interest Lawyers generally max out at?

Postby PoliticalJunkie » Wed Jan 13, 2010 1:06 pm

Not to mention the best job security.........

Esc
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Re: How much do Public Interest Lawyers generally max out at?

Postby Esc » Wed Jan 13, 2010 1:11 pm

bahama wrote:
ndnlawdc wrote:For government, you have every reason to expect to be at $120k within 5-7 years and $150k (plus whatever the annual raises are between now and then) in 15 or so years. That's in DC.

I would argue your numbers are "best case" but generally in the ball park.

To make $120 in 5-7 yrs you'd have to be promoted to GS-15. This is possible but I wouldn't go as far as calling it expected in that time frame. Promotions up to GS-14 are much easier to come by than going from 14 - 15.

To make $150k you'd have to be a GS15 in at least Step 8. IIRC this would take about 11 years after being promoted to GS15 so it will take a little longer than 15yrs overall.

Bottom line the govt route can certainly provide a decent middle class lifestyle.


Plus excellent health benefits, pension, decent working hours, job security, etc.

yeff
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Re: How much do Public Interest Lawyers generally max out at?

Postby yeff » Wed Jan 13, 2010 3:21 pm

bahama wrote:
ndnlawdc wrote:Bottom line the govt route can certainly provide a decent middle class lifestyle.


I can't tell if this is sarcasm or not. What's the cutoff of upper middle class these days?

Even with high COL in DC, earning $150,000 puts you at almost at the 95th percentile for US household income. That's assuming this 15-year government lawyer is the single earner in their family...with a spouse's income you're talking 97th percentile or higher.

Yimbeezy
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Re: How much do Public Interest Lawyers generally max out at?

Postby Yimbeezy » Wed Jan 13, 2010 4:20 pm

yeff wrote:
bahama wrote:
ndnlawdc wrote:Bottom line the govt route can certainly provide a decent middle class lifestyle.


I can't tell if this is sarcasm or not. What's the cutoff of upper middle class these days?

Even with high COL in DC, earning $150,000 puts you at almost at the 95th percentile for US household income. That's assuming this 15-year government lawyer is the single earner in their family...with a spouse's income you're talking 97th percentile or higher.


I'm with you, yeff. Fifteen years in at a buck and a half is more than decent middle class. Middle class is more like household income of eighty to a buck. I wouldn't say a buck and a half a year is elite, but id say upper class, real comfortable.

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nematoad
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Re: How much do Public Interest Lawyers generally max out at?

Postby nematoad » Wed Jan 13, 2010 4:31 pm

Yimbeezy wrote:
yeff wrote:
bahama wrote:
ndnlawdc wrote:Bottom line the govt route can certainly provide a decent middle class lifestyle.


I can't tell if this is sarcasm or not. What's the cutoff of upper middle class these days?

Even with high COL in DC, earning $150,000 puts you at almost at the 95th percentile for US household income. That's assuming this 15-year government lawyer is the single earner in their family...with a spouse's income you're talking 97th percentile or higher.


I'm with you, yeff. Fifteen years in at a buck and a half is more than decent middle class. Middle class is more like household income of eighty to a buck. I wouldn't say a buck and a half a year is elite, but id say upper class, real comfortable.


and if you play your cards right (smart investments) a 150k salary can feel like a lot more than that

bahama
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Re: How much do Public Interest Lawyers generally max out at?

Postby bahama » Wed Jan 13, 2010 6:56 pm

yeff wrote:
bahama wrote:
ndnlawdc wrote:Bottom line the govt route can certainly provide a decent middle class lifestyle.

I can't tell if this is sarcasm or not. What's the cutoff of upper middle class these days?

Even with high COL in DC, earning $150,000 puts you at almost at the 95th percentile for US household income. That's assuming this 15-year government lawyer is the single earner in their family...with a spouse's income you're talking 97th percentile or higher.

I was not being sarcastic. The household median income in Fairfax and Loudoun Counties are over $100k and 2000 something sqft houses in good school districts often sell for over $600,000 even now. So yeah, $100-150k is pretty middle class there - national numbers aren't really relevant.

You could call this upper middle class if you want but my point is you are still going to have to watch your budget every month because it is an expensive area although it would provide a lifestyle where you could afford to own a house, pay for your kids to go to college, and save some money for retirement. You're still going to be on a budget and it's not like you will be driving a new BMW every couple of years, taking vacations in Europe every year, having a housekeeper, shopping at the most exclusive stores, eating at all the best restaurants or living in some enormous house.

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AlanShore
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Re: How much do Public Interest Lawyers generally max out at?

Postby AlanShore » Wed Jan 13, 2010 7:07 pm

bahama wrote:
yeff wrote:
bahama wrote:
ndnlawdc wrote:Bottom line the govt route can certainly provide a decent middle class lifestyle.

I can't tell if this is sarcasm or not. What's the cutoff of upper middle class these days?

Even with high COL in DC, earning $150,000 puts you at almost at the 95th percentile for US household income. That's assuming this 15-year government lawyer is the single earner in their family...with a spouse's income you're talking 97th percentile or higher.

I was not being sarcastic. The household median income in Fairfax and Loudoun Counties are over $100k and 2000 something sqft houses in good school districts often sell for over $600,000 even now. So yeah, $100-150k is pretty middle class there - national numbers aren't really relevant.

You could call this upper middle class if you want but my point is you are still going to have to watch your budget every month because it is an expensive area although it would provide a lifestyle where you could afford to own a house, pay for your kids to go to college, and save some money for retirement. You're still going to be on a budget and it's not like you will be driving a new BMW every couple of years, taking vacations in Europe every year, having a housekeeper, shopping at the most exclusive stores, eating at all the best restaurants or living in some enormous house.


+1 on all of this for most metropolitan areas. for me, its boston. median price in a "nice" suburb like Newton is around 700k. the rule of thumb for being able to afford a house is "x3". so if you make 150k, you can afford approximately 450k. a family with a single earner making 150k will be priced out of the upper middle class areas.

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Blindmelon
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Re: How much do Public Interest Lawyers generally max out at?

Postby Blindmelon » Wed Jan 13, 2010 7:28 pm

Wow. A lot of you must have grown up incredibly wealthy to think that 150k isn't a high income.

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AlanShore
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Re: How much do Public Interest Lawyers generally max out at?

Postby AlanShore » Wed Jan 13, 2010 8:04 pm

Blindmelon wrote:Wow. A lot of you must have grown up incredibly wealthy to think that 150k isn't a high income.

+1..

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Sakura3210
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Re: How much do Public Interest Lawyers generally max out at?

Postby Sakura3210 » Wed Jan 13, 2010 9:01 pm

AlanShore wrote:
Blindmelon wrote:Wow. A lot of you must have grown up incredibly wealthy to think that 150k isn't a high income.

+1..


+2...Nobody in my family has ever made that kind of cash. :?

yeff
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Re: How much do Public Interest Lawyers generally max out at?

Postby yeff » Tue Jan 19, 2010 12:36 pm

bahama wrote:
yeff wrote:
bahama wrote:
ndnlawdc wrote:Bottom line the govt route can certainly provide a decent middle class lifestyle.

I can't tell if this is sarcasm or not. What's the cutoff of upper middle class these days?

Even with high COL in DC, earning $150,000 puts you at almost at the 95th percentile for US household income. That's assuming this 15-year government lawyer is the single earner in their family...with a spouse's income you're talking 97th percentile or higher.

I was not being sarcastic. The household median income in Fairfax and Loudoun Counties are over $100k and 2000 something sqft houses in good school districts often sell for over $600,000 even now. So yeah, $100-150k is pretty middle class there - national numbers aren't really relevant.

You could call this upper middle class if you want but my point is you are still going to have to watch your budget every month because it is an expensive area although it would provide a lifestyle where you could afford to own a house, pay for your kids to go to college, and save some money for retirement. You're still going to be on a budget and it's not like you will be driving a new BMW every couple of years, taking vacations in Europe every year, having a housekeeper, shopping at the most exclusive stores, eating at all the best restaurants or living in some enormous house.


Accepting all this as true, being upper class =/= jet-setting elite. Sometimes it just means you enjoy a comfortable lifestyle in one or the other of the two wealthiest counties in the entire United States.

How can you dismiss the national numbers?

Since half this board is discussion of LSAT or GPA numbers, I'll use them for an analogy.

Let's say you have a 174 and a 3.85. You're at or below the medians for Yale and Harvard, the top two. But since you won't be walking right into a Supreme Court Clerkship and others at your schools have 180s and/or 4.0s, you consider yourself at best in the upper-middle class of law school applicants.

:roll:

bahama
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Re: How much do Public Interest Lawyers generally max out at?

Postby bahama » Tue Jan 19, 2010 4:09 pm

The point of the example using two of the wealthiest counties is to show the entire DC area is extremely expensive so your $ will not go nearly as far as in a less expensive area.

The national nbrs aren't relevant because you have to live near where you work (DC) so only local nbrs are relevant for how far your salary goes, not an average that doesn't reflect costs where you have to live.

It comes down to how you want to define "middle class lifestyle". I am defining it based on "lifestyle" factors based on what type of things someone can buy or do based on their income. I think this is a better metric for "lifestyle" comparisons than using income percentiles or arbitrary dollar amounts. So in rural Alabama middle class may be $25 - 75k and someplace else it may be $60k - $200k.

$150k doesn't get you upper class in an expensive area like DC or NY. In one of these areas it gets you an "average" size house, a ford/Honda/toyota, and a little left over every month after your taxes, mortgage, and living expenses to save for retirement or for your kids to go to college... in other words what a lot of people would consider a comfortable middle class lifestyle (or upper middle if you like that term). This same type of lifestyle you could afford in a lot of the country on half the income.

yeff
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Re: How much do Public Interest Lawyers generally max out at?

Postby yeff » Wed Jan 20, 2010 2:25 am

bahama wrote:The point of the example using two of the wealthiest counties is to show the entire DC area is extremely expensive so your $ will not go nearly as far as in a less expensive area.

The national nbrs aren't relevant because you have to live near where you work (DC) so only local nbrs are relevant for how far your salary goes, not an average that doesn't reflect costs where you have to live.

It comes down to how you want to define "middle class lifestyle". I am defining it based on "lifestyle" factors based on what type of things someone can buy or do based on their income. I think this is a better metric for "lifestyle" comparisons than using income percentiles or arbitrary dollar amounts. So in rural Alabama middle class may be $25 - 75k and someplace else it may be $60k - $200k.

$150k doesn't get you upper class in an expensive area like DC or NY. In one of these areas it gets you an "average" size house, a ford/Honda/toyota, and a little left over every month after your taxes, mortgage, and living expenses to save for retirement or for your kids to go to college... in other words what a lot of people would consider a comfortable middle class lifestyle (or upper middle if you like that term). This same type of lifestyle you could afford in a lot of the country on half the income.


Valid points...said gov't lawyer could indeed reasonably be described as living a middle-class lifestyle despite their upper-class income. Still not middle class, but you wrote "lifestyle" initially so I'll concede the point.

My DC apartment is certainly smaller and of a lower quality than similarly-priced apartments in other regions.

umichgrad
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Re: How much do Public Interest Lawyers generally max out at?

Postby umichgrad » Wed Jan 20, 2010 2:20 pm

I can confirm that ACLU national essentially requires top grades from T10 or so schools, while state ACLU headquarters (at least the one I worked at) hired almost entirelyfrom H/Y/C/N, and local affiliates hire locally.

To the poster about BU, it's true that many T1 and T2 schools have students regularly summer at ACLU both national and state, however, many of them do not get hired. I worked int he ACLU state headquarters of a large state, and they hired 2 associates every 2-4 years.

Kong456
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Re: How much do Public Interest Lawyers generally max out at?

Postby Kong456 » Wed Jan 20, 2010 2:27 pm

What do Fed lawyers start out at?

bfarring
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Re: How much do Public Interest Lawyers generally max out at?

Postby bfarring » Wed Jan 20, 2010 2:42 pm

FEDERAL Government lawyers make pretty respectable starting salaries (in DC) and make 6 figures by mid-career. It's pretty hard to get one of these jobs, but if you did well in LS you're probably good.

payscale.com

Not entirely accurate, but fun to play around with to get ballpark figures.

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nealric
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Re: How much do Public Interest Lawyers generally max out at?

Postby nealric » Wed Jan 20, 2010 2:50 pm

It's pretty hard to get one of these jobs, but if you did well in LS you're probably good.


Aww... that's just precious.

bahama
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Re: How much do Public Interest Lawyers generally max out at?

Postby bahama » Wed Jan 20, 2010 2:58 pm

Kong456 wrote:What do Fed lawyers start out at?


Typically GS11, step 1. Pay varies by location but works out to over $60k in DC.

Kulax22
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Re: How much do Public Interest Lawyers generally max out at?

Postby Kulax22 » Wed Jan 20, 2010 7:10 pm

Is there a difference between public interest and public service? I imagine public service = public sector = government exclusively?




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