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The latest NALP report on salaries for first year lawyers was released yesterday, and even though the basics haven't changed that much since last year, it does show some interesting trends.  Here are a few of the most important new developments this year.

 

• 160,000 is still going to be the ceiling for most law students.  There are exceptions, but 160,000 is a typical big-market salary, with 39 percent of law firms offering at least that much (up from 27 percent last year).

 

• Salary compression from 1st through 8th year associates has continued to grow.  The typical associate can expect to earn around $6500 more every year until the 8th year, where salaries top out.  Many observers consider this silly, since more experienced associates offer much more value to the client than first years.

Also, for those of you who know nothing whatsoever about legal salaries, here are some things that have always been true (and still are).

 

• Smaller firms pay less on average than big firms.  Although there are a lot of exceptions out there, small firms do typically pay a little less than big firms -- about $21,000 less.  That's not small change.

 

• It matters where you go to work.  Bigger markets, like New York and San Francisco, offer more money than smaller markets like Philadelphia and Detroit -- that said, the cost of living is also higher, so ultimately the financial difference is less than you might think.

 

More details are available in the NALP Bookstore, if you are curious about a particular region, for example.