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IBA: Starting Salaries for Legal Professionals Projected to Rise 3.0 Percent in 2013

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Average starting salaries for legal professionals in the United States are projected to rise 3.0 percent overall in 2013, according to the just-released Robert Half Legal 2013 Salary Guide. The largest increases in base compensation are expected for associates, paralegals and legal secretaries at midsize and small-to-midsize law firms. Litigation support specialists also should see greater-than-average salary gains.

“As law firms focus on pursuing new revenue opportunities, the market is strengthening for mid- and senior-level associates with business development skills, extensive client contacts and experience in high-demand practice areas such as healthcare, commercial law and litigation,” said Charles Volkert, executive director of Robert Half Legal. “While salaries have not yet returned to pre-recession levels, many hiring managers are offering above-average compensation and bonuses to attract the industry’s best candidates and retain their most valuable employees.”

Volkert added that many law firms and corporate legal departments are balancing the demands of managing rising workloads with the need to contain costs. “Increasingly, law firm partners and general counsel are bringing in legal professionals on a project basis to access expertise and extra support that may not be available internally,” said Volkert.

Lawyer Positions

According to Robert Half Legal research, average starting salaries for lawyers are expected to increase 3.2 percent in 2013. The position that will see the biggest rise in compensation is a licensed lawyer with four to nine years of experience at a small-to-midsize law firm (10-35 lawyers). Base compensation for this role is expected to rise 4.9 percent, to the range of $87,250 to $157,500 annually, on average. Lawyers with the same amount of experience at midsize law firms (35-75 lawyers) will see starting salaries rise 4.8 percent, to the range of $119,750 to $178,250 per year. First-year associates at small-to-midsize law firms will earn between $58,250 to $84,750, on average, a 2.1 percent increase from 2012 projections.

Corporate attorneys will see average compensation gains of 3.4 percent over 2012. Starting salaries for licensed in-house attorneys with 10 to 12 years of experience will rise 3.9 percent, to the range of $134,500 to $235,500 annually.

Legal Support Positions

Law firm paralegals are expected to see average starting salaries increase 3.3 percent in 2013. The position of midlevel paralegal with four to six years of experience at a midsize law firm should climb by 4.4 percent, to the range of $53,500 to $66,000 annually.

Legal secretaries at law firms can expect average starting salaries of 2.7 percent in 2013. Midlevel legal secretaries with seven to 11 years of experience at midsize law firms will see the highest starting salaries at the range of $49,250 to $61,750 per year, a 3.5 percent increase from 2012.

Starting salaries for legal professionals with litigation support expertise are predicted to rise 3.5 percent, on average. Litigation support managers with seven or more years of experience should see starting salaries increase by 4.4 percent, to the range of $78,500 to $111,250.•

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  1. in a lawyer discipline case Judge Brown, now removed, was presiding over a hearing about a lawyer accused of the supposedly heinous ethical violation of saying the words "Illegal immigrant." (IN re Barker) http://www.in.gov/judiciary/files/order-discipline-2013-55S00-1008-DI-429.pdf .... I wonder if when we compare the egregious violations of due process by Judge Brown, to her chiding of another lawyer for politically incorrectness, if there are any conclusions to be drawn about what kind of person, what kind of judge, what kind of apparatchik, is busy implementing the agenda of political correctness and making off-limits legit advocacy about an adverse party in a suit whose illegal alien status is relevant? I am just asking the question, the reader can make own conclsuion. Oh wait-- did I use the wrong adjective-- let me rephrase that, um undocumented alien?

  2. of course the bigger questions of whether or not the people want to pay for ANY bussing is off limits, due to the Supreme Court protecting the people from DEMOCRACY. Several decades hence from desegregation and bussing plans and we STILL need to be taking all this taxpayer money to combat mostly-imagined "discrimination" in the most obviously failed social program of the postwar period.

  3. You can put your photos anywhere you like... When someone steals it they know it doesn't belong to them. And, a man getting a divorce is automatically not a nice guy...? That's ridiculous. Since when is need of money a conflict of interest? That would mean that no one should have a job unless they are already financially solvent without a job... A photographer is also under no obligation to use a watermark (again, people know when a photo doesn't belong to them) or provide contact information. Hey, he didn't make it easy for me to pay him so I'll just take it! Well heck, might as well walk out of the grocery store with a cart full of food because the lines are too long and you don't find that convenient. "Only in Indiana." Oh, now you're passing judgement on an entire state... What state do you live in? I need to characterize everyone in your state as ignorant and opinionated. And the final bit of ignorance; assuming a photo anyone would want is lucky and then how much does your camera have to cost to make it a good photo, in your obviously relevant opinion?

  4. Seventh Circuit Court Judge Diane Wood has stated in “The Rule of Law in Times of Stress” (2003), “that neither laws nor the procedures used to create or implement them should be secret; and . . . the laws must not be arbitrary.” According to the American Bar Association, Wood’s quote drives home this point: The rule of law also requires that people can expect predictable results from the legal system; this is what Judge Wood implies when she says that “the laws must not be arbitrary.” Predictable results mean that people who act in the same way can expect the law to treat them in the same way. If similar actions do not produce similar legal outcomes, people cannot use the law to guide their actions, and a “rule of law” does not exist.

  5. Linda, I sure hope you are not seeking a law license, for such eighteenth century sentiments could result in your denial in some jurisdictions minting attorneys for our tolerant and inclusive profession.

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