Salary Statistics

[T]here is nothing about the current market that suggests starting associate salaries will be moving up any time soon.

James Leipold, executive director of the National Association for Law Placement (NALP), crushing the hopes and dreams of future Biglaw associates across the nation. Salaries for entry-level attorneys have been “essentially flat” since 2007 (although median pay rose to $160,000 once again after slipping to $145,000 last year).

Back in December 2012, we broke the news that the dismissal of the Gomez-Jimenez case, a class action lawsuit over New York Law School’s allegedly deceptive post-graduate employment data, had been affirmed by New York’s Appellate Division, First Department. Although the opinion carried with it a wrist slap for NYLS and its business practices, Jesse Strauss, one of the lawyers for the nine plaintiffs, was unsatisfied, and vowed to appeal the case to the state’s highest court.

Well, it seems that the day of reckoning has finally arrived, because the members of Team Strauss/Anziska have filed a motion with the New York Court of Appeals to reinstate their clients’ claims….

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Times are changing for in-house attorneys, especially for those lucky enough to ascend to the rank of general counsel. With increased regulation has come increased growth at in-house law departments, as well as increased responsibilities — so much so that general counsel have bemoaned the fact that their “jobs keep [them] up at night.” However, considering that many of them are now earning even more than they did last year, they probably shouldn’t be complaining too much about their jobs.

But that’s the thing with in-house compensation: relevant salary data is harder to come by than it is in Biglaw. In-house salaries don’t follow the Biglaw lockstep model, they’re often negotiable, and they can vary widely depending on a broad range of factors such as industry, size of legal department, and tenure. If you play your cards right, you could wind up out-earning your company’s corporate executives.

Just how much money are we talking about here? Let’s check out the results of the latest survey on general counsel compensation and find out….

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We haven’t had a good New York to 190 post in a while, and maybe there’s a reason for that. While many associates (and partners) feel that they’re long overdue for a raise, starting salaries have grown stagnant in New York — and across the country, for that matter. Remember back in 2007 when we first reported that Simpson Thacher raised incoming associates’ base salaries to $160,000? That was five years ago, and these days, you’ll be lucky if you’re making what you would’ve been taking home before that $15K salary bump.

While that $160K sweet spot for first-years is still the norm in many large markets, it’s no longer as widespread as it once was. In fact, that figure represents only 46 percent of first-year salaries in firms with more than 700 lawyers — and that percentage has been on a steady decline since 2009, when layoffs and terror ran rampant in Biglaw.

Sorry about that tiny pink paycheck of yours….

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Last month, the National Association for Law Placement (NALP) released information about the overall employment rate for the class of 2011 — information that seemed dismal, at best. The American Bar Association then followed up with its own employment data, and it was “just as dire” as everyone expected, if not worse.

We know that the overall employment rate for the class of 2011 is lower than it’s been in 17 years. But even members of the class of 2011 who managed to secure employment have been screwed. Median starting salaries for new law school graduates have dropped by 35% over the past two years.

Since prospective law students are not great with facts and numbers, NALP was kind enough to put together some pretty pictures to help people understand….

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Mmm... shoe porn.

* Dewey really need to keep coming up with punny headlines about D&L’s painful probe? Pass the lube, ’cause you better believe we dew! Steven Davis, the firm’s former chairman, has hired Barry Bohrer, a white-collar criminal defense lawyer and partner at the Morvillo Abramowitz firm. [WSJ Law Blog]

* “Of course all of that money for my baby mama is legal. I… uh… checked with my lawyers. Um, yeah. Just get the money in.” Cheri Young gave some pretty damning testimony yesterday during the John Edwards campaign-finance violations trial. [CNN]

* As if you didn’t have enough to worry about during finals, Law School Transparency has come out with a new clearinghouse that includes employment outcomes, salaries, and student debt loads. [National Law Journal]

* “I do not own a color. I own a specific color in a specific place.” Christian Louboutin was seeing red when he responded to interview questions over his trademark infringement suit against Yves Saint Laurent. [Fox News]

* Remember that Nutella class action suit? Ferrero settled, and you can cash in if you bought their delicious hazelnut crack during the relevant time period. Needless to say, they owe me $20. [American Thinker]

* Richard Bellman, the lawyer behind New Jersey’s “Mount Laurel doctrine,” RIP. [New York Times]

Sad little law school grad.

* With 269 partners to go, Dewey need to start panicking yet? Twelve additional partners, including practice group leaders, have jumped ship, bringing the grand total of partner-level defectors to 31 since January. [DealBook / New York Times]

* Late-breaking news: law schools’ numbers still don’t add up. The New York Times has already said its piece on the problem with law schools, so the Wall Street Journal decided that it was time to chime in again. [Wall Street Journal]

* Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, the man accused of going on an Afghan killing spree, will be represented by Ted Bundy’s lawyer. In the court of public opinion, that’s equivalent to pleading guilty. [Bloomberg]

* “I have had it with these motherf**king snakes breastfeeding women on this motherf**king plane!” A mother has settled a lawsuit with her airline over being kicked off a plane for nursing her child. [Businessweek]

* Here’s a fashion tip for law firm staff: you wear orange shirts in prison, not at the office. Think twice next time before you wear that color to work, because you might get fired like these folks in Florida. [Sun-Sentinel]

* Let’s face it, there is no escape from the law, not even in your free time (if that even exists). That being said, here’s a lawyerly crossword puzzle, inspired by Nina Totenberg’s reporting on legal affairs. Have fun! [NPR]

Scrooge McDuck: he is the 1 percent (but not a lawyer).

Lawyers are the fourth most well-represented occupational group among the nation’s top 1 percent (which, for purposes of the study, consists of households with a pretax income of $380,000, excluding capital gains).

– a New York Times analysis of data collected by the University of Minnesota Population Center.

Additional interesting facts and links — including which occupations ranked ahead of lawyers, and what percentage of lawyers belong to the 1 percent — appear after the jump.

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The battle for greater law school transparency, for more accurate and complete information from law schools regarding the jobs obtained (or not obtained) by their graduates, has many fronts. Some advocates for transparency work through organizations, such as the Tennessee non-profit Law School Transparency. Some have turned to the political process, where the issue of transparency has attracted the attention of several United States senators. And some have looked to litigation, suing law schools for providing allegedly misleading data about post-graduate employment outcomes.

Here’s an interesting idea: what if law schools just started posting comprehensive, accurate employment data on their websites? On a voluntary basis — not compelled by politicians, lawsuits, or the American Bar Association (ABA)?

Wouldn’t that be great? And wouldn’t it be helpful to prospective law students trying to decide whether it’s worth investing three years of their lives, and a large amount of (often borrowed) money, to pursue a law degree at the school in question?

Take a look at what they’re now doing at the University of Chicago Law School. Could it perhaps serve as the model for law school reporting of employment data?

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Rima Fakih: should she go to jail?

* Close, but no cigar? The ABA has updated the way that it will collect graduate employment and salary data from law schools, but the new method could still use a few tweaks. [National Law Journal]

* Kilpatrick Townsend is expanding into Saudi Arabia. I don’t really have anything witty to say about this, but now the “Arabian Nights” song from Aladdin is stuck in my head. [Atlanta Business Chronicle]

* British barristers behaving badly: Kevin Steele, a former Mishcon de Reya partner, was convicted of fraud and forgery charges in connection with a $28M loan scam. They don’t serve tea and crumpets in jail. [Legal Week]

* Joshua Monson, the serial defense attorney stabber, was in court yesterday for sentencing. Still no word on whether he was wheeled in on a Hannibal Lecter-esque gurney to prevent more stabby behavior. [CNN]

* No, Ophelia, when you’re a transgender prisoner in Virginia, the state is not going to pay for your sex change operation, no matter how many courts you appeal to. [Houston Chronicle]

* Will Rima Fakih, 2010’s Miss USA, have to do jail time in Michigan for reportedly being a “super-drunk”? Check back after we get the results from the swimsuit competition. [MLive.com]