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“Top Salaries for First-Year Associates Remain Flat at $160,000”

In any other industry, you would never see this headline, but here it is blazing atop a press release issued by the National Association For Law Placement (“NALP”).  It is amazing to me that NALP and the press characterize these starting salaries for first year BigLaw associates as a bad thing.

Sure, its true, there was a point when salaries appeared incessantly on the rise.  The NALP press release pin points it to year 2007, when BigLaw firms felt the need to one up one another by raising and raising and raising first year associates salaries over just a few months.  The result was first year associate salaries quick rise to $160K in 2007.

2007 was the year I graduated law school and the year I began as a first year associate in BigLaw. I remember when I first obtained my summer associate offer for summer 2006, the salary was based on a first year associate starting salary of $125K.  By the time I started at the firm in November of 2007, the starting salary was $160k.  Of course I was thrilled about the “pay raise” that I had nothing to do with, but honestly I had been thrilled by the $125K.

Let’s keep this in perspective people.  Six figure starting salaries are big money for what is essentially an entry-level position.  The big salary isn’t the only reason, but it certainly is a very good reason for why every law student and recent law school graduate should consider shooting for a BigLaw job.

Author Rachel Gezerseh

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