A study by the National Association for Law Placement, or NALP, shows a widening disparity in law firm associate salaries, with most associate starting salaries falling into one of two groups — a roughly $40,000 to $65,00 group, and a $160,000 group.
Relatively few incoming associates are offered compensation between those ranges. According to the report, in 2008 23% of graduates reported salaries around $160,000, while 42% made between $40,000 and $65,000.
Before 2000, associate starting pay conformed to a standard bell curve. Since then, Biglaw firms have gradually increased pay, while compensation at smaller firms has remained static.
The NARP data is based on the pay of 22,300 full-time first-years.