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7 BigLaw Firms to Work for if You Want the Big Bucks

By Andrew Lu on November 09, 2012 9:39 AM

A list of which law firms pay the highest starting salaries may seem strange in today's economy.

After all, you're bombarded with job market news that's pretty dismal for attorneys. Many lawyers aren't getting jobs at all, and many of the ones who do are landing jobs that pay very little.

Fortunately for those in the rarefied world of BigLaw, some firms are still pumping out salaries in excess of $160,000 a year, as Above The Law's David Lat recently pointed out.

Lat calls the list his "The $160K-Plus Club." They are:

  • Bickel & Brewer. First-year salaries at this firm went up from $175,000 to $185,000. The kicker? The firm is located in Texas, a state with no income tax, and where the cost of living is extremely reasonable, if not cheap.
  • Boies Schiller & Flexner. The starting salary is $174,000. And because the firm is known for "mega-bonuses" for associates, you could end up with a lot more.
  • Desmarais LLP. This IP litigation "boutique" recently raised starting salaries from $160,000 to $180,000, according to ATL.
  • McKool Smith. The starting compensation package of $177,500 includes a $10,000 signing bonus and a $2,500 year-end bonus.
  • Susman & Godfrey. Another boutique, this firm offers a $5,000 signing bonus and a $5,000 vacation bonus on top of a starting base salary of $160,000.
  • Wachtell Lipton. Starting salary is $165,000, plus you can tell people you work at this renowned M&A firm.
  • Williams & Connolly. Associates don't get paid bonuses, but starting salaries begin at $180,000.

Salaries are an easy measure to gauge how "rich" someone is. However, as indicated in the ATL article, your salary is not the only thing that matters. If you choose to live somewhere like Texas, Nebraska, or Indiana, you could earn half as much and still live more comfortably than you would in a place like Manhattan or Los Angeles.

Plus, you probably wouldn't have to bill thousands of hours just to take home a lofty paycheck.

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