There’s nothing quite like the burning smell of deflation on a Monday morning. NALP has released its associate salary survey. The good news is that the median starting salary for associates is $130,000. The bad news is that there is no way on God’s green earth that the median salary is going to stay that high. The ABA Journal reports this excerpt from the NALP survey:
Salary information for the survey by NALP, an association for legal career professionals, was collected as of April 1, before large law firms paying the prevailing beginning salary of $160,000 began to cut pay. “This year’s report reflects what is likely to be the apogee of large firm salaries for the foreseeable future,” according to a NALP press release.
A cursory glance at Above the Law’s salary cut page will reveal that New York will secede from the Union sooner than New York will go to $190K. But there are other factors in play that will push down future median salary numbers.
More details after the jump.
The ABA Journal points out a significant statistic from the new NALP report:
NALP figures from 2008 found that about 56 percent of that year’s graduates obtained their first job in a law firm. Almost 27 percent reported public interest employment, where median salaries are lower, according to a prior press release. Overall, about 75 percent obtained a job for which bar passage is required.
It seems unlikely that 56% of 2010 graduates will receive their first post-law school job at a private law firm. Oh, they might get be getting paid a deferral stipend from a private law firm, but the first job of a lot of would-be Biglaw associates will likely be in a public interest organization.
If they get a job at all. Maybe the class of 2010 can hang on, but law students who graduate in 2011 will have a heck of a time hitting a 75% employment rate.
The silver lining in the statistics is that they are only statistics. Individual results will vary and vary greatly. There are still plenty of firms paying $160,000. The dream is still alive, they’re just giving it out to fewer and fewer people.
Median Starting Pay for Law Firm Associates Peaks at $130K [ABA Journal]
Salaries at Largest Firms Peak in 2009 [NALP]