Survey Shows Positive Legal Hiring Forecast

November 20, 2006 ( - Average starting salaries for legal professionals in the United States are projected to rise 4.7% in 2007, according to a new study by Robert Half.

According to a Robert Half news release, the staffing agency’s 2007 Salary Guide found average starting salaries for attorneys are expected to rise 4.6% in 2007. The position that will see the greatest gain in compensation is that of first-year associate at a midsize law firm (35-75 attorneys). Base compensation for this role is expected to rise 7.9% , to the range of $68,250 to $95,750 annually. First-year associates at small to midsize law firms (10-35 attorneys) will earn between $53,750 to $78,750 per year, a 7.3% increase over 2006 projections. Licensed attorneys with one to three years of experience at small firms (up to 10 attorneys) will see starting salaries rise 7.4% , to the range of $51,000 to $80,000 per year, according to Robert Half.

Meanwhile, paralegals can expect average starting salaries to rise 6.1% in 2007, the news release said. Starting salaries for the position of senior/supervising paralegal at a large law firm is expected to increase 7.6% , to the range of $55,750 to $78,250 annually. Average starting salaries for legal administrators and office managers in small law firms are expected to increase 6.3% , to the range of $46,000 to $60,000.

Corporate attorneys will see gains on average compensation of 4.6% over 2006. Salaries for first-year associates will rise 5.9% , to the range of $60,000 to $87,500 annually. A corporate attorney with one to three years of experience will see base compensation rise 5.4% , to between $70,500 and $109,000 annually.

According to Robert Half, generally speaking, the legal hiring picture is positive. Nationally, corporate governance, litigation, intellectual property and real estate practice areas are generating casework and providing fresh sources of revenue and a need for more employees.

“New business development and continued regulatory activities are driving demand for legal professionals with practice area expertise in specialties such as corporate governance, litigation or intellectual property,” said Robert Half Legal executive director Charles Volkert, in the news release. “As a result, legal hiring managers are reassessing their compensation packages to attract the best candidates.”

Other findings included:

  • Docket/calendar clerks will see average starting salaries increase 8%, to the range of $29,750 to $44,500 per year.
  • At midsize law firms, base compensation for senior executive legal secretaries with 12 or more years of experience is projected to rise 5.7%, to between $47,750 and $59,500.
  • Compensation for case clerks with up to two years of experience at midsize law firms is expected to increase 6.6%, to the range of $28,750 to $36,000 annually.
  • Law library clerks will see average base compensation increase 7.6%, to the range of $28,250 to $38,750.
  • Salaries for librarians are projected to rise 7%, to between $40,000 to $66,500.

A copy of the study is available by request here .