NALP finds recent law grads’ starting salaries down

July 13, 2012
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As if new law school graduates don’t have enough negative news coming at them, NALP – The Association for Legal Career Professionals – just released findings on the starting salaries of the classes of 2009-2011. Here’s more bad news: the salaries have been decreasing.

According to the NALP Employment Report and Salary Survey for the class of 2011, those graduates are making anywhere from 15 to 35 percent less than their counterparts from 2009, depending on what figure you look at.

The average firm salary has dropped 15 percent from $115,524 to $97,827 over the last three years. The median firm salary drop is more startling – from $130,000 for 2009 grads to $85,000 for the 2011 class.

The national average salary has decreased from nearly $93,500 for 2009 grads to a little more than $78,600 for 2011 grads. The median salary went from $72,000 to $60,000.

"This drop in starting salaries, while expected, is surprising in its scope," according to NALP's Executive Director James Leipold. "Nearly all of the drop can be attributed to the continued erosion of private practice opportunities at the largest law firms."

Leipold explained that the drop in salaries isn’t because legal employers are paying new graduates less than in the past. It may be the case in some instances, but NALP believes the decrease is due to graduates finding fewer jobs with the highest-paying large law firms. More graduates have found jobs with lower-paying small law firms.

Nearly 60 percent of law firm jobs taken by 2011 grads were in firms of 50 or fewer. Back in 2009, only 46 percent of graduates took jobs in small-sized firms.
 

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  1. The fee increase would be livable except for the 11% increase in spending at the Disciplinary Commission. The Commission should be focused on true public harm rather than going on witch hunts against lawyers who dare to criticize judges.

  2. Marijuana is safer than alcohol. AT the time the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act was enacted all major pharmaceutical companies in the US sold marijuana products. 11 Presidents of the US have smoked marijuana. Smoking it does not increase the likelihood that you will get lung cancer. There are numerous reports of canabis oil killing many kinds of incurable cancer. (See Rick Simpson's Oil on the internet or facebook).

  3. The US has 5% of the world's population and 25% of the world's prisoners. Far too many people are sentenced for far too many years in prison. Many of the federal prisoners are sentenced for marijuana violations. Marijuana is safer than alcohol.

  4. My daughter was married less than a week and her new hubbys picture was on tv for drugs and now I havent't seen my granddaughters since st patricks day. when my daughter left her marriage from her childrens Father she lived with me with my grand daughters and that was ok but I called her on the new hubby who is in jail and said didn't want this around my grandkids not unreasonable request and I get shut out for her mistake

  5. From the perspective of a practicing attorney, it sounds like this masters degree in law for non-attorneys will be useless to anyone who gets it. "However, Ted Waggoner, chair of the ISBA’s Legal Education Conclave, sees the potential for the degree program to actually help attorneys do their jobs better. He pointed to his practice at Peterson Waggoner & Perkins LLP in Rochester and how some clients ask their attorneys to do work, such as filling out insurance forms, that they could do themselves. Waggoner believes the individuals with the legal master’s degrees could do the routine, mundane business thus freeing the lawyers to do the substantive legal work." That is simply insulting to suggest that someone with a masters degree would work in a role that is subpar to even an administrative assistant. Even someone with just a certificate or associate's degree in paralegal studies would be overqualified to sit around helping clients fill out forms. Anyone who has a business background that they think would be enhanced by having a legal background will just go to law school, or get an MBA (which typically includes a business law class that gives a generic, broad overview of legal concepts). No business-savvy person would ever seriously consider this ridiculous master of law for non-lawyers degree. It reeks of desperation. The only people I see getting it are the ones who did not get into law school, who see the degree as something to add to their transcript in hopes of getting into a JD program down the road.

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