A survey by the National Association for Law Placement says that law firm associate salaries, generally on the rise since 2006, have nowhere to go but down from here.
NALP’s 2009 Associate Salary Survey is based on salary data collected as of April 1st, 2009, from 642 firms.
The prevailing salary at the largest firms in many US cities, including Austin, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles & Orange County, New York, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, and Washington DC, stood at $160,000 in April. The overall median starting salary was $130,000, and ranged from $70,000 in firms of 2-25 lawyers, to $135,000 in firms of 501-1,000 lawyers, and $160,000 in firms of more than 1,000 lawyers.
Salaries for staff attorneys are typically just over $100,000 per year, while the median hourly salaries for law clerks range from $19 to $50 per hour depending on firm size.
The current trend across the legal industry since September 2008 has been reductions in compensation of all types, and in attorney layoffs. It is certain that these figures represent a peak, at least through 2012.