Legal Professionals' Salaries To Rise 4.2 Percent, Guide Says

Saturday, December 1, 2007 - 01:00

Average starting salaries for legal professionals in the United States are projected to rise 4.2 percent, according to the just-released Robert Half Legal 2008 Salary Guide. The largest increases in base compensation are expected for first year associates and attorneys with one to three years of experience at large law firms.

Robert Half Legal's annual Salary Guide is based on extensive research, as well as local and national employment data gathered from Robert Half Legal offices throughout the United States. Robert Half Legal offers online job search services at www.roberthalf-legal.com.

"Across the United States, hiring activity has increased as many law firms continue to build up practice areas and corporate legal departments address growing workloads and regulatory compliance issues," said Charles Volkert, executive director for Robert Half Legal. "The need for professionals with specialized expertise, coupled with a declining supply of law school graduates, has created a competitive hiring environment. As a result, many law offices are willing to pay higher salaries for in-demand skill sets."

According to Robert Half Legal research, average starting salaries for attorneys are expected to rise 5.4 percent in 2008. First-year associates at large law firms (75+ attorneys) will see the greatest gain in compensation. Average base compensation for this role is expected to rise 9.1 percent, to the range of $111,750 to $137,000 annually. Licensed attorneys with one to three years of experience at large law firms will earn between $114,000 and $147,500 per year, an 8.2 percent increase over 2007 projections. Senior attorneys with 10 or more years of experience at large firms will see starting salaries rise 7.9 percent, to the range of $167,500 to $234,000 annually.

Paralegals can expect average starting salaries to rise 3.4 percent in 2008. The base compensation of midlevel paralegals with four to six years of experience at large law firms is expected to increase 4.4 percent, to between $48,000 and $64,500 annually.

In-house attorneys will see average gains of 3.8 percent over 2007 levels. First year associates can expect annual base compensation to rise 4.9 percent to between $63,750 and $91,000. Average starting salaries for licensed attorneys with 10 or more years of experience will rise 4.1 percent, to the range of $126,000 to $210,750 annually.

Other key findings from the Robert Half Legal 2008 Salary Guide include: automated litigation support managers will see average starting salaries increase 5.7 percent, to the range of $52,500 to $85,750 per year; salaries for librarians are projected to rise 5.6 percent, to between $43,000 and $69,500; compensation for contract administrators with four or more years of experience is anticipated to increase 5.3 percent, with starting salaries averaging $55,500 to $88,250; in-house midlevel paralegals with four to six years of experience will see average base compensation increase 5.1 percent, to the range of $47,000 to $61,500, and in corporate legal departments, starting salaries for senior executive legal secretaries with seven or more years of experience are projected to rise 5.1 percent, to between $48,250 and $64,250.