Changes in Law Firm Salaries from 2000 to 2001

NALP Bulletin, July 2002 

Data from the Class of 2001 reveal that the percentage of law firm jobs paying salaries in excess of $95,000 was 46%, compared with 39% for the Class of 2000, and that the overall median increased from $80,000 to $90,000. Continuing increases in law firm salaries in recent years certainly contributed to this rise, as did a continuing increase in the share of jobs taken in large firms. However, a closer look at specific geographic markets, which can be assumed to reflect roughly the same mix of jobs with respect to firm size, reveals some interesting contrasts.

With some exceptions, salary medians in the 20 largest markets, which are highlighted in the table at right, were either steady or showed only small increases, while in many smaller markets, the median increased considerably. Birmingham, Milwaukee, and Orlando are examples. While the medians clearly are lower in the smaller markets than in the largest markets, the difference is not as great as it was in 2000. Without exception, the cities in which the median, or more accurately, the prevailing salary, was $125,000 in 2000, the median remained at $125,000 in 2001.

Change in Median Starting Salary in Law Firms
Selected Cities Ranked by Change from 2000 to 2001

 


MEDIAN IN: NO. OF SALARIES REPORTED IN: PERCENT
CHANGE
IN MEDIAN
2000 2001 2000 2001
Louisville, KY $45,000 $70,000 56 55 55.6%
San Diego, CA 85,000 125,000 162 156 47.1
Orlando, FL 52,750 70,000 54 54 32.7
Miami, FL 65,000 85,000 127 93 30.8
Irvine, CA 98,500 125,000 36 59 26.9
Birmingham, AL 66,000 80,000 66 61 21.2
Milwaukee, WI 80,000 95,000 96 106 18.8
Cleveland, OH 77,000 90,000 153 121 16.9
Tampa, FL 55,000 63,000 59 72 14.5
Denver, CO 70,000 79,000 95 84 12.9
Seattle, WA 80,000 90,000 115 114 12.5
Houston, TX 94,000 105,000 266 298 11.7
New Orleans, LA 64,500 72,000 62 64 11.6
Chicago, IL 112,250 125,000 630 619 11.4
Wilmington, DE 90,000 100,000 50 50 11.1
Baltimore, MD 76,750 85,000 68 61 10.7
Portland, OR 68,000 75,000 95 84 10.3
Nashville, TN 73,000 80,000 59 58 9.6
Salt Lake City, UT 66,000 72,100 64 62 9.2
Kansas City, MO 74,000 80,000 118 107 8.1
Indianapolis, IN 70,000 75,000 82 79 7.1
Philadelphia, PA 98,000 105,000 268 274 7.1
Columbus, OH 75,000 80,000 74 82 6.7
Richmond, VA 75,000 80,000 43 66 6.7
Minneapolis, MN 85,000 90,000 168 175 5.9
Las Vegas, NV 52,000 55,000 59 68 5.8
Dallas, TX 100,000 105,000 276 328 5.0
Austin, TX 105,000 110,000 102 82 4.8
Washington, DC 120,000 125,000 781 796 4.2
Cincinnati, OH 75,000 78,000 79 82 4.0
St. Louis, MO 74,000 75,000 119 138 1.4
Phoenix, AZ 80,000 80,000 90 66 0.0
Los Angeles, CA 125,000 125,000 553 572 0.0
Menlo Park, CA 125,000 125,000 29 52 0.0
Palo Alto, CA 125,000 125,000 206 218 0.0
San Francisco, CA 125,000 125,000 300 344 0.0
Atlanta, GA 100,000 100,000 312 324 0.0
Boston, MA 125,000 125,000 397 434 0.0
Detroit, MI 90,000 90,000 58 63 0.0
Charlotte, NC 100,000 100,000 60 70 0.0
New York, NY 125,000 125,000 1,584 1,165 0.0
Sacramento, CA 57,000 55,000 69 53 -3.5
Pittsburgh, PA 82,000 75,000 137 148 -8.5
Buffalo, NY 43,500 39,000 32 54 -10.3

Note: Cities in this table had at least 50 salaries reported for the Class of 2001.
Source: Based on data published in Jobs & JD's: Employment and Salaries of New Law Graduates for the Classes of 2000 and 2001.

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