Lawyers do it with appeal

Top-heavy distribution of lawyer salaries:

By accounts from employment trackers, news reports and some law schools themselves, starting a lucrative career as a lawyer these days is easier than ever. Many big law firms are doling out first-year salaries that exceed those paid to seasoned federal judges, and they are bestowing year-end bonuses that rival starting pay for many entry-level professional positions.

But the eye-popping salaries are the reality for a small fraction of law school graduates, and all those stories of big money may be creating unrealistic hopes for the vast majority of law school students. Contributing to the situation is the effort by law schools to portray their employment numbers as robustly as possible to boost their ranking scores.

The upshot means dashed expectations for lots of graduates, many of whom are saddled with high debt as they struggle to start their careers.

Interestingly, it seems that bigger firms pay more, suggesting economies of scale in salaries?

From that number 55.8% — or 22,424 — took jobs in private practice. NALP estimates that about 37% of graduates who go into private practice end up working for firms with 101 attorneys or more. Importantly, the vast majority of the firms paying first-year associates the much-publicized $160,000 have more than 500 attorneys.

The result is that about 80% of law graduates are not working in law firms with more than 101 attorneys, and, consequently, are making far less than the amounts grabbing all the attention.

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