The median salary spread for a 1st year associate at a 2 -25 lawyer firm versus a 500+ firm is $77,000. When the reference group is a 51-100 lawyer law firm versus 500+, the differential is still a substantial $55,000 per year. Cumulatively, for all eight years of the associate track, the spread amounts to $631,000 for 2-25 vs. 500+ lawyer firms and $524,000 for 51-100 vs. 500+.
In other words, the bimodal distribution discussed in an earlier post appears to hold fairly steady during the first several years of a young associate’s career. In fact, most 8th year associates at firms smaller than 250 lawyers are making less than a 1st year associate at a 500+ lawyer firm.
This is just the start of a much more detailed post, in which Professor Henderson compares working hours and quality of life at big firms versus small firms. Check out the whole thing over here.
Pay and Workweek Differentials by Law Firm Size [Empirical Legal Studies]