How Much Do Lawyers Make When Starting?


Quick Answer

Starting salaries for first-year lawyers range from $44,600 to $160,000, according to a 2014 survey by the National Association of Legal Professionals. Factors determining starting salaries include the size and location of the law firm and whether the job is in the nonprofit, corporate or government sector.

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Median starting salaries for first-year associates in corporate law firms with 25 lawyers or less were $68,000, reports NALP. Firms with 26 to 50 lawyer start first-year associates at a median salary of $105,000. Median salaries for first-year lawyers in firms with 51 to 100 employees are a bit more at $110,000. The highest beginning median salaries of $160,000 are paid by firms with 251 to 500 lawyers. Median starting salaries in the next tier of firms with 501 to 700 lawyers are $125,000.

Beginning lawyers in the Northeast earn the highest salaries, says NALP. Law firms in the Northeast with over 700 lawyers reported paying first-year associates $160,000. The highest reported first-year salary nationwide was $180,000. Median salaries in the West are $145,000, $125,000 in the West and $110,000 in the Midwest. Starting salaries for lawyers who work in nonprofit organizations or government are substantially lower than those in corporate law, with entry-level median salaries ranging from $44,600 to $51,100.

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