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BigLaw cuts drive salary numbers down

Fewer jobs at the largest law firms mean salary statistics for new lawyers continue their depressing trend.

The average salary for 2011 law school graduates is 6.5 percent lower than that for the previous class, according to NALP – the Association for Legal Career Professionals. The figures for new private practice lawyers are more startling. The median starting private practice salary fell over 18 percent from 2010 and since 2009 has fallen 35 percent, NALP reported Thursday.

“Nearly all of the drop can be attributed to the continued erosion of private practice opportunities at the largest law firms,” said NALP executive director James Leipold.

The proportion of new lawyer jobs at firms of more than 250 lawyers decreased from 33 percent to a little over 21 percent in just two years.

NALP reports the overall national average salary for the class of 2011 was $78,653, compared with $84,111 for 2010.

2009 2010 2011 Decrease 2009-2011
Median Salary: $72,000 $63,000 $60,000 17%
Mean Salary: $93,454 $84,111 $78,653 15%
Median Firm Salary: $130,000 $104,000 $85,000 35%
Mean Firm Salary: $115,254 $106,444 $97,821 15%

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