No, You Cannot ‘Do Anything With a Law Degree’

Once upon a time, liberal arts grads with uncertain career paths put their faith in a fairytale: if they really couldn't figure out what to be when they grew up, there was always law school. In the wake of the recession, when over 11 percent of law school grads are unemployed nine months after graduating, it seems that this particular coach has turned back into a pumpkin. At Slate, writer and attorney Jim Saksa reminds us that it was probably all make-believe in the first place.

Starting Lawyer Salary: Partner Lawyer Salaries

Wal-Mart is famous (or infamous depending on your POV) for its employees' salaries, and now it appears the big box giant is concerned about today's starting lawyer salary. As recently reported by the Wall Street Journal, Wal-Mart sent a memo to its legal counsel bemoaning an increase in legal fees and pointing a finger at the starting lawyer salary of $160,000.

In the memo, Miguel Rivera Sr., associate general counsel for Wal-Mart, wrote, “The salaries that law firms choose to pay their junior associates are none of our concern."  But then he added, “Based on the size and frequency of the rate increase requests that we have seen over the past three years, it appears that many of the requested increases are largely attributable to the steady, nationwide increases in junior associate salaries.”

How does your salary compare to a starting lawyer salary Find out by taking PayScale's full salary survey.

Median vs. Mean Lawyer Salaries: Is Law School Worth It?

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), "Hard Case: Job Market Wanes for U.S. Lawyers", reported on the large number of law school graduates suffering under large debt with surprisingly low salary prospects.

If only these prospective law students had been reading this blog. They would have understood the difference between median and mean, and that only 10% of students can be in the 90th percentile of salaries :-)

While the Wall Street Journal focused on the somewhat misleading marketing done by second tier law schools, in truth there is plenty of data available, e.g., from PayScale's research center, on just how low the typical median starting lawyer salaries are.

In this post, I'll look at lawyers salaries: the top, the bottom, and the middle. Yes, for specific skill sets and employers, the attorney salaries are still good. That pay just is not the typical (median) law student's experience.

Is your salary above or below the median for people like you? Find out with the PayScale Salary Calculator.