Skip to comments.Salaries Plunge for Lawyers; Unemployment Still High
Posted on 07/08/2011 8:24:01 AM PDT by Kaslin
An NALP study finds Law School Class of 2010 Starting Pay Fell 20% as Jobs Eroded
Starting salaries for last years U.S. law school graduates plummeted 20 percent as private practice jobs eroded, according to a report by the National Association for Law Placement.Law School Graduate Scorecard
The national median starting salary at law firms dropped to $104,000 from $130,000 in 2009, reflecting a shift in the distribution of jobs and salary adjustments at some firms, the NALP said today. The report cited information submitted by 192 laws schools and covering 93 percent of 2010 graduates.
Aggregate starting salaries fell because graduates found fewer jobs with high-paying large law firms and many more jobs with the smallest firms at lower salaries, Leipold said. More than half of the jobs taken by 2010 graduates were in firms with 50 or fewer attorneys. Jobs at firms with more than 250 attorneys fell to 26 percent from 33 percent in 2009.
The employment rate for 2010 law school graduates was 87.6 percent, down from a high of 91.9 percent for the 2007 class, the NALP said. Part-time jobs accounted for 11 percent and almost 27 percent were reported as temporary jobs, according to the survey.
Actually, it's far more grim than it looks.
How many new lawyers took a job at their dad's or mom's small practice? That is very common. How many hang out a shingle and/or start a small law firm with friends or classmates?
From what I've seen, the vast majority who start a practice, close their doors and find a new career in a year or two.
For the rest of us out in the workforce, unemployment remains at recession levels.
The number of initial unemployment claims remains elevated. Here is the table I posted last week.
Initial Unemployment Claims For 2011
We can now tack on another week.
Please consider the Department of Labor Weekly Claims Report.
In the week ending July 2, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 418,000, a decrease of 14,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 432,000. The 4-week moving average was 424,750, a decrease of 3,000 from the previous week's revised average of 427,750.
Note that last week was revised from 428,000 to 432,000 accounting for 4,000 of today's reported 14,000 drop.
The defense rests.
I’ve been an attorney for over 25 years and can speak of what I’ve seen in the legal profession.
First, years ago the law schools and the big firms who run the legal system in the various states decided to “pyramid” the profession. The partners at the big firms realized that they could make a lot more money by having more lawyers in the firms. They would bill at a high hourly rate, and pay only a fraction to the attorney doing the work. The young associate, just out of law school, would have a high salary number dangled before them. But that number was typically a number that reflected an “employment package” and not necessarily take home pay. In addition, the young associate was essentially put into a sweat shop, where he or she was expected to bill a substantial number of hours, and was expected to work late into the night, as well as Saturdays and Sundays. And was it the exciting work you see on TV? Oh hell no. The associate was never allowed to go to Court or actually meet the client, they were confined to the cubicle to sift through piles of paperwork and write memos. The pay didn’t increase much, and after five years if there was no “partnership” to buy into, the now burned out associate was shown the door and replaced with new cannon fodder produced by the law schools.
Of course, this works as long as the law schools crank out a never ending supply of new lawyers. The law schools were perfectly willing to go along; they massively increased admissions, which increased the size and budgets of the schools.
The law boards, which are run by the big firms, were all to happy to confer licenses on the fresh young cannon fodder.
The result was that the top of the pyramid, those senior partners at big firms, became very wealthy. And so did the senior partners at medium firms that became large. I don’t know what the burned out lawyers did; some of them went to smaller firms where they could find success, some chased ambulances, some just went off to do something else.
Having graduated somewhat in the middle of my class, I didn’t fall into the big firm trap. They weren’t interested in me, and looking back now I thank God that he didn’t “bless” me with too much brains. Instead, I found work at a small county prosecutor’s office, didn’t make much money and had to work pretty long hours but found a career I loved by being in the Courtroom constantly and dealing with people, not with piles of paper in a little cubicle. Plus, I had a boss who didn’t care when we worked, just so long as we got the work done. I established a name and reputation, and now have a good private practice.
It’s been an OK career. And who says crime doesn’t pay? It’s putting my boys through college.
And I added the rest of my comment to poke fun at you. Sue me.
or until baby boy or girl goes to law school... “he’s going to become an attorney, bla bla bla...” Yep
Although private sector lawyers are having to accept lower compensation and unemployment, government lawyers are thriving. There has been a hiring boom at the federal level for attorneys. Compensation has increased including very large levels of retirement compensation. Government has a long reach for attorney employment and compensation. Government policies and subsidies are supporting a shadow army of attorneys for non profit organizations whose major purpose is to sue the taxpayers over a variety of matters.
I’m a solo who does commercial debt collection. I know the scam.
I do ok, not like big firm money or even remotely close, and I bust my ass for clients.
I was just going to say the same thing.
first rule for tyrants: first we get rid of all the lawyers.
this has very little to do with the ecconomy. Rather it is a result of a plethora of law schools.
ANYONE ANYONE ANYONE with a four year degree can go to law school. There are more first year seats than there are applicants.
Law schools are easy money for universities. you just need classrooms, failed lawyers known as professors, and a student loan office. Presto easy money.
What we really have is a transfer of wealth from the working lawyers to the ivory tower slimes.
Not to mention how much of the actual work paralegals and legal assistants do, client gets billed for their hourly work as well, and it is nowhere near what they are being paid.
I’m also solo in criminal defense. In my state, if you are a sole practicioner you have to pay extra attention to ethics rules. Most of the disciplinary actions are against the sole practicioner. The silk-stocking big firm boys are NEVER cited before the Disciplinary Commission. And it’s not because they have superior ethics.
We are not favored by the “legal system,” that being the big firms, the bar associations and State Court Administration.
One of my cousins graduated from University of Richmond’s law school (very prestigious) and passed the bar in 2009. She still does not have a related job (she is working as a waitress at Bonefish Grill to pay bills so it doesn’t count toward the “unemployed”).
I was fine with that...rules of the game. What rankled me was hearing from my clients that they expressed their appreciation to my bosses, but I never heard about it. All I ever heard was I wasn't producing enough billable hours at my reviews.
I'm now enjoying life at a federal regulatory agency, where my work is appreciated.
That firm dissolved a few years after my departure.
When Predators overpopulate and kill off their food supply, they themselves starve.
I make a lot less, but I love the freedom of doing my own thing.
Am I supposed to feel sorry about this? One thing I’ve learned about lawyers. If they can’t find a job practicing law, they will use their law degree to “prove” they’re more qualified than whatever job you were qualified for. There are thousands of people with law degrees out there who aren’t in a legal practice but I doubt very many are hurting for a job.
So they aren’t pulling down six figures. Boo Frickin’ Hoo.
15 yr lawyer here. Had the big firm experience, and eventually got out of it. So unfair to the client AND the associate. Now in private practice and loving it by staying small, very small. Biz comes by current clients telling other prospects. Lotsa freedom.
I’m working with a “lawyer” right now.....he can’t seem to get his act together....to even send us an “agreement” for his services....so we’re firing him before he starts....after spending almost an hour talking with him about what was needed....sheesh....and he’s a really nice guy.
It was true when I got my law license and it’s true now: there’s not a first-year lawyer in the world worth six figures. In fact, IMHO, there are very few five-year lawyers worth that.
the old timers’ theory back in the 60’s and 70’s was that by allowing women in law schools they would either never work in favor of their MRS degree or they would only work until they had chidren. Today women with families are used as fill labor to work only part time with lesser cases in order to treat them as disinterested in partner tracks.
as for those not in any diversity group, tough poop.
it still boils down to law schools being easy money for universities.
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