TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Median Pay For New Associates Has Not Budged In Two Years

NALP Press Release:

The National Association for Law Placement (NALP) today released its 2017 Associate Salary Survey report, showing that the overall median first-year salary as of January 1, 2017, was $135,000, the same as in 2015, the year of the most recent previous survey — with both survey years reflecting response pools in which offices in firms of 251+ lawyers accounted for about 70% of responses. 


Legal Education | Permalink


Two notes:

1) While we don't have all of the NALP information for last year's grads available yet, their median salary for ALL law school grads for the most recent year available - Class of 2015 - was about $63,000, or more than 20% less than the real dollar median for the Class of 2008, at a shade over $80,000 ($72,000 in nominal dollars).

2) NALP collected so few data points for some of the cohorts here that some senior associates are getting paid less than more junior associates. In the 50 Lawyers or Less column, for instance, the salary drops nearly $10,000 between sixth and seventh year associates, and stays near the lower mark for eighth year associates. This is not a sign of great data collection. See also: 6th to 7th year associates at 50-100 lawyer firms and a few other instances. And I'm sorry, but only being able to collect data of about two dozen law firms with fewer than 50 lawyers - out of the thousands of such firms - ought to be embarrassing. It should not imbue one with much confidence in the data, at the least. Even their press release says that 71% of the data came from law firms with >251 lawyers. A brief bit of Googling reveals a 2000 study showing 47,563 law firms in the US, 76% of which have 5 or fewer lawyers and an additional 13% with 6 to 10 lawyers. Presuming the law firm market is at least broadly similar today, that means there are roughly 42,000 law firms of 10 lawyers or smaller. NALP has managed to collect data from about 25 law firms of 50 lawyers or smaller. So let's not pretend that this NALP pronouncement reflects the actual law firm market in any meaningful way.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Jun 7, 2017 8:47:30 AM