This information is being made available for prospective law school applicants and others interested in the starting salaries of new law school graduates. For complete salary information for the Class of 2014, see links to additional important documents below.
Starting Salaries for Law School Graduates
What do new law school graduates earn?
Starting salaries for new lawyers vary tremendously. The median salary for Class of 2014 graduates with a full-time job lasting at least a year and reporting a salary was $63,000; the mean, or average salary was about $82,300. For jobs in private practice, the overall median salary was considerably higher, $95,000, and the average was well over $102,000. However, in small firms, which account for over half of the jobs taken in law firms, salaries of $50,000-70,000 were typical. Likewise, public service jobs — those in government, public interest organizations, and as judicial clerks—continued to offer relatively low starting salaries, with medians of $52,700, $45,000, and $54,000, respectively.
Most jobs paid neither the median amount of $63,000 nor $160,000. Although salaries of more than $75,000 accounted for almost 37% of salaries reported, there were a nearly equal number of salaries of $55,000 or less. Outside of private practice, most salaries were $75,000 or less.
The prevalence of high salaries in large firms, in concert with the relatively stable salaries among other employers, continues to result in a salary distribution with two peaks, as shown in the salary distribution curve: one at $160,000 and one in the $40,000 to $65,000 range.
Moreover, because salaries were reported for about 68% of graduates reported as working full-time in a job lasting at least a year, and were disproportionately reported for those graduates working at large firms, both the median and mean salary for jobs as a whole, and in firms specifically, are biased upward. Although it is not possible to impute a salary figure to every full-time job for which a salary was not reported, it is possible to make a reasonable estimate of what an adjusted mean would be, using a procedure that takes into account the distribution of full-time jobs. For the Class of 2014, doing so results in an adjusted mean salary for full-time jobs of about $77,000 compared with about $82,300 based on reported salaries alone. It is further possible to estimate that salaries of $160,000 account for perhaps 10-12% of salaries, instead of 17%, which is based on reported salaries. However, whether considering the adjusted mean, the unadjusted mean, or the median, it remains the case that few jobs pay the mean or median salary.
Note: All salary analyses are based on salaries reported for full-time jobs lasting at least a year. Any salaries reported by graduates who started their own solo practice are excluded. The firm size category of 1-10 attorneys includes graduates working for a solo practitioner but not graduates who have started their own solo practice.
Employer Types with Average Salary for Class of 2014 (pie charts)
Reported Salaries by State for Full-Time Jobs in Private Practice Taken by the Class of 2014 (broken down by firm size)