First Year Average Compensation

As 2015 gets underway, we here at D. French Advisors thought it would be interesting to take a look at an important topic: compensation. If you’ve been practicing law for 20 years or more, you may remember starting salaries between $50-$70K. Most of today’s first-year associates at larger firms would cringe at the thought of starting out at these numbers. Each year since 1995, first-year salaries have increased by several thousand dollars, all the way up to 2014’s average of $135K, and the largest firms paying upwards of $160K. (These numbers vary by firm size and region.) Please find annual numbers compiled by NALP here:


However, it seems that this upward trend slowed to a crawl and finally to a stop around 2007. Since then, starting salaries have either held steady or dipped slightly. It seems reasonable to assume that the financial crash of 2008 played a big part in wages leveling off. For further analysis, please see the following article:

As an interesting aside, Forbes noted the large role that one’s law school can play in this equation. The article can be found here:


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members of the community and law fields, our team is committed to strengthening
the local legal industry and building ties that last. We strive to be an extension of
law firms and give candidates great opportunity to find the right fit.