Breaking News

2024 Report: Top Law Firms Maintain High First-Year Associate Salaries
Download PDF
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)

The National Law Journal (NLJ) has released its 2024 report on first-year associate salaries at the largest 500 law firms in the United States, highlighting trends and figures that reflect the current state of the legal market. This year’s report indicates that the starting salaries for first-year associates continue to be robust, underscoring the intense competition among top firms to attract the best talent from law schools across the country.

Overview of Salary Trends

According to the NLJ 500 report, many of the nation’s largest firms are maintaining starting salaries at the $215,000 mark, a figure that has remained consistent over recent years. This baseline salary is often seen in major legal markets such as New York, Washington D.C., and California, where the demand for high-caliber legal professionals is particularly strong. Some firms have gone beyond this standard, offering even higher compensation packages that include lucrative bonuses and additional incentives.

Want to know if you’re earning what you deserve? Find out with LawCrossing’s salary surveys.


Regional Variations and Market Specifics

While the $215,000 starting salary is common in major markets, the report also notes regional variations. Firms in smaller markets or those with a more regional focus may offer starting salaries that are slightly lower, reflecting differences in cost of living and market demand. For example, firms in cities like Atlanta, Dallas, or Seattle may offer competitive but somewhat lower salaries compared to their counterparts in New York or San Francisco.

Bonuses and Incentives

In addition to base salaries, many firms are enhancing their compensation packages with significant bonuses. These bonuses are often tied to performance metrics, billable hours, or firm profitability. First-year associates at some top firms can expect bonuses that substantially increase their overall compensation. This trend reflects the firms’ strategies to not only attract but also retain top talent in a competitive landscape.

Impact of Economic Factors

The report suggests that broader economic conditions also play a role in shaping salary trends. While the legal industry has shown resilience, fluctuations in the economy can influence hiring practices and salary structures. For instance, firms may adjust their salary offerings based on economic forecasts, client demand, and financial performance.

Get JD Journal in Your Mail

Subscribe to our FREE daily news alerts and get the latest updates on the most happening events in the legal, business, and celebrity world. You also get your daily dose of humor and entertainment!!

Whether you’re a recent law school grad or an experienced attorney, BCG Attorney Search has the job for you.

Firm Culture and Professional Development

Beyond salaries, the NLJ report highlights the growing importance of firm culture and professional development opportunities in attracting new associates. Many firms are placing a stronger emphasis on work-life balance, diversity and inclusion initiatives, and comprehensive training programs. These factors are increasingly critical for new graduates when choosing where to begin their legal careers.

Work-Life Balance and Well-being

Firms are also responding to the evolving expectations of new associates regarding work-life balance. The high demands of legal work, especially in top-tier firms, have led to a greater focus on policies that promote mental health and well-being. Flexible working arrangements, mental health resources, and initiatives to reduce burnout are becoming more common as firms strive to support their employees holistically.

Future Outlook

Looking ahead, the NLJ report anticipates that starting salaries will remain competitive, with firms continuing to vie for top talent. The ongoing adjustments in response to economic conditions and the evolving expectations of new associates will likely shape the landscape of legal compensation in the coming years. Firms that adapt to these changes while maintaining strong support systems for their associates are expected to be the most successful in attracting and retaining talent.

Don’t be a silent ninja! Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.



Associate Attorney


ASSOCIATE ATTORNEY McKenna Snyder LLC, a law firm in Exton, PA has an immediate opening for an ex...

Apply now



Qualifications: HaasCaywood is seeking associate attorneys for our Coldwater and Sturgis, Michiga...

Apply now



Qualifications: HaasCaywood is seeking associate attorneys for our Coldwater and Sturgis, Michiga...

Apply now

Deputy General Counsel / Senior Deputy General Counsel


Cal Cities Culture and Mission Cal Cities is dedicated to creating a collaborative and inclusive ...

Apply now




Search Now

Education Law Attorney

USA-CA-El Segundo

El Segundo office of a BCG Attorney Search Top Ranked Law Firm seeks an education law attorney with ...

Apply Now

Education Law Attorney


Carlsbad office of a BCG Attorney Search Top Ranked Law Firm seeks an education law attorney with 4-...

Apply Now

Education Law and Public Entity Attorney

USA-CA-El Segundo

El Segundo office of a BCG Attorney Search Top Ranked Law Firm seeks an education law and public ent...

Apply Now

Most Popular


To Top