Here's What Lawyers Should Make in 2016: How Do You Compare?

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By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. on September 25, 2015 10:28 AM

If you're considering bringing more lawyers into your practice, hiring support staff, or just want to see how your riches measure up against your neighbors', we've got good news for you. Robert Half Legal, the staffing agency, has released its 2016 Salary Guide. The guide breaks down typical salary ranges for a wide variety of legal careers, from attorneys in midsize firms with 7 years experience to compliance managers fresh out of school.

Here are our highlights. So grab a ruler, because it's time to see how you measure up.

Attorney Salaries

The survey breaks down attorney salaries by firm size and lawyer experience. The numbers represent only salary. Bonuses, perks, and other types of compensation are excluded.

First Year Associate
2016 Salary
Small firm
55,250 - 79,500
Small/midsize firm
63,750 - 90,250
Midsize firm
81,250 - 112,750
Lawyer (1-3 years exp)
2016 Salary
Small firm
61,750 - 93,500
Small/midsize firm
71,500 - 109,000
Midsize firm
94,000 - 128,750
Lawyer (4-9 years exp)
2016 Salary
Small firm
81,000 - 138,500
Small/midsize firm
102,750 - 175,750
Midsize firm
135,000 - 205,500
Lawyer (10+ years exp)
2016 Salary
Small firm
108,250 - 169,750
Small/midsize firm
139,500 - 193,750
Midsize firm
162,750 - 268,500

There's also a wealth of information on support staff. Want to hire an office manager? For a small firm, that will cost you between $55,250 and $71,750 in salary. An entry level legal assistant? $29,750 to $32,250.

In-Demand Practice Areas

There's more to the report than just salaries. According to Robert Half, these are the practice areas and positions that are currently in demand, with those most likely to generate new jobs in the next two years at the top:

    1. General litigation
    2. Business and corporate law
    3. Healthcare
    4. Real estate
    5. Intellectual property
    6. Compliance
    7. Contract administration

Why Lawyers Stick Around

Salary is just part of the reason attorneys show up for work every day. Factors like caring about your colleagues and enjoying your work also come into play. When lawyers were asked what, aside from compensation, provides the best incentives for staying with a firm, here's the factors they listed:

    • Challenging work or variety of assignments, 39 percent
    • Professional development opportunities, 26 percent
    • Flexible work arrangements, 20 percent
    • Corporate culture and work atmosphere, 3 percent
    • Vacation or time-off policy, 3 percent

So there you have it. Firms looking to increase lawyer retention should offer a variety of assignments to lawyers who are completing P.D. while working from home. Forget about a collegial atmosphere and parental leave.

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