New Survey Reveals Higher Salaries, More Years of Experience

NALP Bulletin, November 2006 

Finding out about the professionals involved in law school career services and legal recruitment and professional development has long been a hallmark of NALP research, dating back very nearly to the founding of NALP.

Although the methodology, analyses, and titles have changed, many of the fundamental answers sought have not. So whether the result of analyses is called the 1980 Legal Employer Hiring Procedures Survey and Recruitment Administrator Job Description Survey or the 2006 Survey of Law Firm Career Professionals, NALP has collected information to measure the salaries, education levels, and experience of legal career professionals for nearly three decades. (The annual survey of law firm career professionals is currently conducted every other year, alternating with the Law School Career Services Survey.) Historically, the analyses compiled from this survey have grouped respondents to reflect the primary and second person in the office, regardless of specific job titles. A comparison of selected indicators for primary professionals from the 1994, 2000, and 2006 surveys is shown in Table 1.

As has been true in the past, at any given point in time, many legal career professionals in firms are relatively new to their current job but not necessarily new to the field. In fact, most respondents to the 2006 survey had been in the field (which includes experience at both employer organizations and law schools) for five years or more, and a plurality reported ten or more years in the field, quite a shift from the mid-1990s.

Although individuals with a JD degree are in the minority, their presence has grown, almost doubling since 2000. This growth reflects to some extent the growth in the roles and responsibilities of those involved in lawyer recruiting. There are, to be sure, still many recruitment coordinators and administrators. But there are also directors and managers of recruiting, professional development, diversity, and lawyer personnel. Because of the increasing breadth of the kinds of jobs among NALP employer members, the 2006 report provides analyses based on job functions, differentiating professional development and recruiting, and directors, managers, and coordinators. Among the findings is that a JD degree is most common among individuals whose primary responsibility is professional development. Not surprisingly, median salaries are highest among directors of professional development and directors of legal recruiting, at $176,400 and $101,500, respectively. Both of these figures are about $11,000 higher than just two years ago.  

The full Survey is now available free to members in PDF format at on NALP’s website under Research & Directories > Research > Legal Career Professionals. Note also that, as a continuation of this survey effort, members are invited to submit sample job descriptions for professional positions in the areas of recruiting, professional development, diversity, and related lawyer personnel management positions. The sample job descriptions received to date are published on NALP’s website for reference (with identifying information removed). Employers are invited to submit additional job descriptions to NALP at

Table 1. Legal Recruitment -- Then and Now -- Primary Office-Wide Professional

1994 2000 2006
% with JD or LLM 5.8% 12.6% 22.0%
% in current job 2 years or less 31.8 52.3 38.1
% in field 5 or more years 63.1 55.4 78.8
% in field 10 or more years 15.1 30.8 42.5
Median salary $45,000* $57,750 $80,300

* The 1994 survey requested a salary range rather than an actual figure. The $45,000 figure is estimated based on the distribution of ranges reported.

Table 2. Percentage of Respondents with a JD -- By Job Function

2004 2006
Directors/Managers of Professional Development 63.3% 50.0%
Directors/Managers of Professional Development and Recruiting 36.6 41.9
Directors/Managers of Recruiting 14.0 17.6
Coordinators/Administrators and Assistants 2.3 9.0
National Association for Law Placement, Inc.® (NALP®)
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