MENLO PARK, Calif., Oct. 26 – LAWFUEL – The Law News Network – Average starting salaries for legal professionals in the United States are expected to rise 6.1 percent in 2006, according to the just-released Robert Half Legal 2006 Salary Guide. This compares with starting salary increases of 3.4 percent forecast this time last year. Research contained in this annual publication indicates that law firms and corporate legal departments are optimistic about the long-term employment outlook for their field. Growth in practice areas such as real estate, compliance, intellectual property and litigation, in particular, is fueling demand for legal services.
Robert Half Legal is a leading staffing service specializing in attorneys, paralegals and other highly skilled legal professionals. The company’s annual Salary Guide is based on extensive research, as well as local and national employment data gathered from Robert Half Legal offices throughout the United States and Canada. Robert Half Legal offers online job search services at www.roberthalflegal.com.
“Legal hiring managers appear to be more confident about a sustainable economic recovery and, as a result, they are adding staff and planning for new business opportunities,” said Charles Volkert, executive director of Robert Half Legal. “Candidates with experience in high-demand practice areas are beginning to receive multiple job offers.”
Volkert added, “While law offices are enhancing compensation packages to remain competitive, they are still selective when hiring. Job applicants may undergo numerous interviews with potential peers and supervisors before an employment offer is extended.”
Specialties in Demand
According to Robert Half Legal research, average starting salaries for attorneys are expected to rise 5 percent in 2006. The position that will see the biggest increase in base compensation is that of licensed attorney with 4 to 9+ years of experience at a small to midsize law firm (10-35 attorneys). The average annual salary will be from $72,000 to $128,000, an 8.5 percent increase over last year. First-year associates at those same firms will see starting salaries rise 7.9 percent to the range of $49,500 to $74,000. Their counterparts at large law firms (75+ attorneys) will earn between $91,250 to $123,500 per year, a 6.8 percent increase from 2005 projections.
Corporate attorneys will see average compensation gains of 8.5 percent over 2005 projections. Salaries for first-year associates will rise 9.9 percent, to the range of $55,750 to $83,500. Licensed lawyers with one to three years of experience will see increases in base compensation of 9.1 percent to between $67,000 and $103,250 annually.
Average starting salaries for legal administrators and office managers are expected to grow 5.6 percent. At small to midsize law firms, base compensation will range from $49,000 to $76,000 for these positions, a 6.8 percent gain over 2005 levels.
Legal secretaries can expect average starting salaries to increase 6 percent in 2006. The position of midlevel legal secretary at a small to midsize law firm will see the biggest gain in compensation. The average annual salary is anticipated to rise 7.4 percent to between $38,250 to $52,500 per year.
Other key findings from the Robert Half Legal 2006 Salary Guide include:
— Average starting compensation for paralegals will increase 5.6 percent
over 2006. At small to midsize law firms, salaries for junior
paralegals with two to three years of experience are projected to rise
7.1 percent to between $31,750 and $40,000.
— Compensation for case clerks with up to two years of experience at
small to midsize law firms is expected to increase 8.1 percent to the
range of $25,750 to $31,000 annually.
— Law office librarians will see the biggest gain of all positions in the
legal field with average starting salaries expected to increase 16
percent over 2005, to the range of $37,750 to $61,750 per year.
— Office clerks will see average base compensation increase 8.5 percent,
to the range of $24,250 to $33,000.
About the Robert Half Legal Salary Guide
Starting salary information in the Robert Half Legal 2006 Salary Guide is derived from the thousands of job orders and placements handled nationwide by account executives with Robert Half Legal. Continuing or ongoing salaries are not reported as too many factors — such as seniority, performance, work ethic and training, among others — impact the compensation of full-time legal professionals as employment histories develop.
The Robert Half Legal 2006 Salary Guide is used extensively by law firms and corporate legal departments nationwide to determine appropriate compensation levels for employees. In addition, government agencies and educational institutions rely on the guide for current data on salaries and trends in the legal field. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics uses the Robert Half Legal 2006 Salary Guide in preparing its best-selling Occupational Outlook Handbook.