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This info is from the 2008 Colorado Bar Association 2008 Economics of Law Practice Survey. Its Colorado only, but is some good data for what  lawyers actually earn. 2,529 lawyers in Colorado responded to the survey (its state wide, so those living in the larger cities earned more on average than those living in the smaller cities).

Some Basic stats:

Overall Average Salaries by years of Practice [includes fulltime and part-time attorneys](p. 9-11):

Average hourly billing rate for 2008 = $225 an hour (p. 9)
Average salary for all lawyers with no experience= $70,216 (134 respondents )
Average salary for all lawyers with 1-3 years experience = $72,378.00 (260 respondents  )
Average salary for all lawyers with 4-5 years experience = $87,468 (193 respondents )
Average net income for all lawyers full and part-time in Colorado = $131,758.00

Mean Attorney Net Income by Practice Size [only includes fulltime attorneys] (p. 12)

Practice Classification - (number of respondents) - mean salary

Solo, office outside of home (191) $106,717
Solo, home office (59) 96,764
Solo with 1 or more associates (32) 168,719
Space sharer (66) 107,455
Partner in firm with 2-7 partners (252) 173,900
Partner in firm with 8-29 partners (88) 217,548
Partner in firm with 30+ partners (55) 339,255
Of Counsel (53) 231,226
Associate in firm with 1 partner (67) 70,864
Associate in firm with 2-7 partners (192) 78,516
Associate in firm with 8-29 partners (79) 96,906
Associate in firm with 30+ partners (99) 133,348
Judge/Magistrate/ALJ (Full time) (42) 112,525
Judge/Magistrate/ALJ & Private Practice (6) 125,000
Arbitrator/Mediator (5) 92,946
City/County Government (97) 173,685
State Government (59) 83,927
Federal Government (27) 96,337 7
In-House Counsel (for-profit org.) (164) 165,884
In-House Counsel (not-for-profit org.) (36) 98,217
Counsel with legal aid/legal services agency (12) 62,849
Contract Attorney (6) 73,333
Law Clerk (36) 45,902

Mean Attorney Net Income By Practice Area [fulltime private practice attorney only] (p.20)

Administrative Law (5) $130,000
Arbitration/Mediation/ADR (3) 120,000
Appellate Practice (4) 129,250
Banking (7) 121,714
Bankruptcy/Receivership (24) 115,724
Business/Corporate Law (80) 143,394
Civil Rights Law (4) 84,250
Construction law (29) 133,272
Collections (9) 104,289
Communications/Technology (3) 203,333
Criminal Defense-public (2) 42,500
Criminal Defense-private (52) 95,887
Criminal Prosecution (2) 58,250
Domestic Relations/Family/Juvenile Law (164) 115,457
Elder Law (9) 81,122
Employment/Labor (defense) (26) 142,425
Employment/Labor (plaintiff) (13) 115,000
Entertainment/Sports/Gaming Law (1) 35,000
Environmental Law (11) 121,636
Estate Planning/Estate Administration (94) 116,348
General Practice (14) 97,659
Health and Hospital law (9) 170,556
Immigration and Naturalization (12) 141,786
Indian Law (4) 46,050
Insurance Law (not torts) (12) 110,208
Intellectual Property (38) 185,667
Litigation (civil/commercial) (227) 172,343
Municipal/Public Entity (28) 146,179
Natural Resources (oil & gas/mining) (22) 183,547
Pensions/Profit Sharing/ERISA (4) 375,750
Personal Injury/Malpractice (defense)( 25) 117,940
Personal Injury/Malpractice (plaintiff) (44) 153,668
Public Utilities/Regulated Industries( 2) 177,596
Public Benefits (Soc. Sec./Medicare/Medicaid) (4) 140,250
Real Property (118) 156,898
Securities (9) 183,278
Taxation (corporate) (3) 143,000
Taxation (individuals/small businesses) (8) 81,500
Water (26) 131,799
Workers' Compensation( 27) 150,815

Mean Attorney Net Income By Years In Practice [all attorneys public/private] p.21

5 or < (527) $72,950
6 to 10 (324) 109,538
11 to 15 (289) 142,589
16 to 25 (439) 158,155
>25 (500) 183,316

Mean Attorney Net Income By Number of Attorneys in Firm [fulltime private practice]p.

1 (301) $100,559
2 (114) 103,803
3-6 (259) 131,714
7-10 (130) 140,562
11-20 (150) 145,243
21-50 (174) 203,444
>50( 79) 202,969

Full Report:

Current Law Students / To everyone taking the bar tomorrow…
« on: July 27, 2009, 01:42:07 PM »
Your ready for this, you really are. You know enough to pass at this point.

The only thing that can defeat you now is yourself. This is not law school, this is not the time to get fancy with your legal reasoning, you’re not trying to beat anyone out for that A. State your rules, apply your facts, go for your points, address the stuff you know and bypass the stuff you have forgotten. Don’t get bogged down, plow forward even if you seem stuck. BS if you have to, you won’t get any points deducted and may just get lucky and say something the grader thinks counts as a point. Your all smart enough to pass this. All you need to do is pass by one point, it’s a measure of competency, not highest grade in the class, to the bar you’re as competent if you pass by one point as you are if you pass by 100 points. Focus on the exam, not the "what ifs," don't project bad things, you will make it through this.

Believe in yourself, shake it off when you start to get discouraged and don’t second guess yourself. YOU KNOW ENOUGH TO PASS - ALL OF YOU DO. Don’t let it psyche you out, remember no matter how tough it seems for you there is someone out there who has it tougher (even compared to me!) So do the best you can and that’s the best you can do.

Good luck everyone and I'll see all you guys/gals on the other side.


Here is yet another article chronicling what I have said before, that I think what we are seeing in the legal hiring is more that just a bubble, but a complete change in the way larger law firms work. I don’t think we will ever return to the way it was 2 years ago, those days are gone for good. So what should be learn from this?

I think the key is for new students, as well as current students to understand the hiring patterns of the past are not going to work in the new economy and they should all, regardless of school, concentrate on other ways of finding employment other than simplify relying on OCI (or looking at past results of classmates any indictor of their probable job search success). OCI alone is just not going to be enough for future grads to be the main focus of the job search. And lastly I think law students need to better educate themselves on the business of practicing law so they are aware of the challenges facing firms and can talk intelligently about them in interviews, knowing how the paradigm is changing can make you a more valuable employee if the firm believes you understand the business side of the firm as well as the legal side.

ABA: Downturn’s Losers: BigLaw, ‘Entitled’ Associates, Top Schools
Posted May 7, 2009, 10:12 am CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

The downturn has likely ended the traditional BigLaw model that produces $160,000 starting salaries and relies on elite law schools to supply new associates.

The situation is so bleak, according to Indiana University law professor William Henderson, that some law firm hiring managers believe associate start dates will be pushed back even further, possibly from January 2010 to September 2010. Henderson makes his observations on the downturn’s likely winners and losers in a comment to a post at Brian Leiter’s Law School Reports.
The winners, in Henderson’s view, are regional law firms that will take work away from their larger competitors and the associates they employ. The losers will be big law firms with armies of associates and the elite law schools that supply the talent.

“There is a fairly general consensus that the bubble has permanently burst on the traditional BigLaw model that produces the $160K salary structure,” Henderson writes. “The high-leverage firms in major markets are reeling the most, primarily because there is a lot less money being spent by GCs, and they are imposing brutal cost-containment strategies.” Even if starting pay remains at $140,000 or $160,000, Henderson says, every extra dollar above that will be “merit-based.”

Henderson says two managers at large law firms predicted the September 2010 associate start dates and told him, “There are no jobs right now—none.”

As large law firms suffer, so too will the brand-name law schools, he says. “Many, many GCs are less impressed by ‘brand’ than by cost containment and results,” Henderson says.

“Numerous law firm partners have told me about natural experiments in which associate from regional law school A, who everyone underestimated, outperformed entitled and complacent associates from national law school B,” Henderson writes. “The firms are now systematically studying these observations using the techniques of industrial psychology. It is very interesting stuff.”

Current Law Students / The end of BigLaw as we once knew it?
« on: April 10, 2009, 07:16:04 AM »
So I’ve been saying on here for a while that I think what we are seeing in the legal business world is more than just a blip based on the economy but a the start of a bigger paradigm shift in the way the business of law is conducted. In essence an end to the widespread use of the Cravath model in billing and thus hiring that meant middle of the class and below at a T14 could demand and get market pay. Clients are simply not willing to pay the higher legal fees that BigLaw firms demanded just because of the pedigree of their lawyers anymore. Firms are and need to start “value adding” and that means more legal services for less money, which intern means fewer lawyers at big firms and lower pay at the starting level when lawyers can’t produce enough to cover their own costs.

 I think the old days are gone for good, and they are not coming back. The market simply won’t support hiring an entire summer class anymore, and I think things are going to get tighter for everyone outside the tops of their classes, all the way down the rankings. Firms can afford to be pickier now, and with clients demanding other billing models than Cravath, the need to fill your firm with anyone with a pedigree as opposed to those with the top pedigree and top grades is waning. Is the Cravath model completely dead? No, I don’t think so, but I don’t think it will be the dominate business model for the majority of bigger firms anymore, and may end up relegated to boutiques who can charge more because they really do have the best of the best working there.

A few ABA articles out today detail what I think are the future trends in the legal business model and something all of us should be aware of. I think it’s wrong to look to the recent past (last 10-15 years) as any guide to what’s going to happen in the future, that model is simply dying. Law students need to understand the coming model so they can prepare as best they can for it.

So what do you all think? Do you think we will go back to the old ways once the economy getts better? You think this is just a dip? What do you see as the future of the legal buisness?

DuPont Shifts From BigLaw Model, Hires More Smaller Firms

Not that long ago, the in-house legal department at DuPont Co. was implementing an efficiency strategy concerning outside counsel that called for the corporation to use a smaller number of large global law firms.

But now, DuPont—which is viewed by other corporations as a bellwether on legal cost-cutting—is reversing course, at least to some extent, and looking to retain a larger number of smaller law firms, according to Bloomberg.

Partners at firms of no more than 300 attorneys often charge less than major BigLaw competitors, the news agency notes in a lengthy article about the revised DuPont Legal Model. Plus, DuPont is pushing for fixed fees and discounted rates.

“At a time when general counsel are looking for alternative billing arrangements, the playing field has been leveled, so smaller firms can make pitches to big clients that would have fallen on deaf ears before,” says DuPont's general counsel, Thomas Sager, in an interview with the news agency.

Some Lawyers are Reducing Fees as Corporations Seek Discounts

When attorney Mark Peroff moved to the Manhattan office of Hiscock & Barclay, a 200-lawyer firm headquartered in upstate New York, he persuaded clients to follow him by offering a 20 percent fee discount from what they had been paying for his work at his former partnership.

Competing for corporate clients by offering lower rates is a trend that is likely to expand further as in-house counsel press for discounts in a difficult economy that increases their leverage, Bloomberg reports. The article relies on information from the Association of Corporate Counsel, among other sources.

In a memo earlier this year, Boston-based Fidelity investments told the law firms it regularly uses that the mega-brokerage expects discounts of 10 to 12.5 percent on fees, the news agency notes.
"Since we can run our business with a much lower overhead, we can allow our partners in New York to bill at a lower rate," says John Langan, Hiscock's managing partner. The firm pays "a fraction" of Manhattan rental costs for its upstate offices in Albany, Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse, he explains. This makes it possible for Hiscock to charge less for legal work in its Manhattan office, too, because the bulk of the firm's attorney roster is upstate.

In Brave New Post-Boom World, Corporate Clients Now Want Value

Updated: The party obviously is over for a number of law firms recently flush with profits from formerly booming financial institutions, but a brave new world may await attorneys able and willing to adjust to the new regime.

In a word, it's now all about value, writes Paul Lippe, the CEO of Legal OnRamp, in an American Lawyer article reprinted in New York Lawyer (reg. req.).
However, to provide the cost-effective services clients are seeking, lawyers also must listen to what they want, he notes.

"All the other elements of 'strategy' that so many firms have embraced over the last ten to 15 years—increase concentration on the financial services industry, raise prices, grow for growth's sake, increase leverage by hiring more associates, make fewer partners, and de-equitize existing partners—have been about the firm and not about the clients," he writes. "They made sense only in the context of a financial services-driven boom."

He's far from the only one making such points. On Friday, the Association of Corporate Counsel unveiled its ACC Value Challenge, writes Patrick Lamb on In Search of Perfect Client Service.
As ACC explains the issue on its own site, traditional law firm business models aren't in accord with corporate clients' need for "value-driven, high-quality legal services that deliver solutions for a reasonable cost and develop lawyers as counselors (not just content-providers), advocates (not just process-doers) and professional partners."

Through its new program, ACC seeks to promote a national dialogue between corporate counsel, law firms and law schools about how best to "reconnect value to costs" and, more specifically, focus on solving client problems, reduce "bickering" about legal costs and increase the sense of pride and satisfaction that both inside and outside corporate counsel take in their work.
Selling legal skills to clients, based on the value of the services to be provided, isn't easy for many attorneys, notes consultant Robert Potter in his 2003 book Winning in the Invisible Market: A Guide to Selling Professional Services in Turbulent Times.

Yet, at the point in the process when legal services are most easily sold--that is to say, before a potential client realizes legal services are needed and starts shopping around for counsel--"most of the professionals I work with initially find it difficult to articulate their service value," he writes. "They can describe what they do, who they do it for and even why it works, but why is it valuable? Well, that's a bit more challenging."

An example from his own life shows how lawyers can win a client with value marketing:
Motivated by the death of a friend, Potter was ready to put his own estate plan in order and protect his family. But in a chance meeting with a lawyer soon after the friend's death, the attorney focused on his own expertise and overwhelmed Potter with too much information, slowing down his initial impetus to hire a lawyer and get the matter resolved.

Then Potter happened to meet another attorney and asked her a question about irrevocable trusts. Instead of answering directly, she asked him questions, to figure out what he wanted to do, and listened to his answers. Then she explained, in simple terms, the process that could be followed to accomplish his desired estate plan.
"Two weeks later it was done," he writes.

Lawyer Pay

Will $144K Become the Norm for BigLaw Associate Starting Pay?
Posted Mar 10, 2009, 06:23 am CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

A Chicago legal recruiter says the leaders of several large law firms are considering cutting associate starting pay.
The problem, recruiter Kay Hoppe tells the Chicago Tribune, is that no one wants to be among the first to announce pay cuts.

"I've heard from several chairmen who believe first-years need to be rolled back," Hoppe said. "But they are hoping somebody else will start."
Two law firms have already started the ball rolling.

McGuireWoods announced Friday that is dropping starting pay for associates in the class of 2009 from $160,000 to $144,000. At least one other law firm—WolfBlock—has also announced a 10 percent pay cut.

McGuireWoods managing partner Craig Culbertson noted in an interview with the Tribune that lawyers in the class of 2008 had their salaries frozen this year. If the class of 2009 joins the firm at the same pay, "you start to get morale problems."

Several large law firms have frozen associate salaries, and they could offer the same justification for a pay cut.

If law firm leaders act, they will be following the advice of Bradford Hildebrandt, who urged pay cuts last week at a forum sponsored by his legal consulting firm.
“If you don’t cut associate starting salaries now, you are nuts,” Hildebrandt said. “They were too high. Now we have to pay for it.”

So I’m having this discussion with my classmate who’s taking UCC now, which I have not had but am reviewing for the bar right now and I ask him so is porn a good or service? I would think the DVD its self is a good, thus UCC applies, but is making the porn a service thus common law contracts applies? If I’m making basement porn, am I merchant, even if I’m just doing amateur stuff? Is the K between me and the actresses between merchants?

If I’m an actress in a porn am I selling my “goods’ or my “services”? What about breach, what if the actress claims to do ATM but turns out they don’t what’s the measure of my damages? And if I hire X to do Y, and she does not show up on the set can I get specific performance?

What do you all think, this is important stuff!

Incoming 1Ls / My advice to the starting 1Ls (LONG)
« on: August 05, 2008, 05:47:59 PM »
I’m going to give you some advice, some of which was given to me before I went to school, some of which I learned while in school and some of which was given to me by lawyers and judges I know. Everything I list here I have personally tried and it works.

Some info about me: I’m a 4L part-time at a T2 school, I’m well within the top 20% of my class and on a secondary journal, I have had several clerk positions and have several open offers for post laws school graduation. I would describe my job searching thus far as being extremely easy and not at all effected by the presence of a T1 school in my same market with the one caveat that I am also extremely picky about what I will practice and where I will work. I have turned down far more offers than I have accepted. I am not trying to brag, I’m trying to share what you won’t learn just about anyplace else that really does work.
I’m going to give you advice on one thing: landing a job. There is plenty of advice on OCI and mass mailings, I’ve never done that so I won’t talk out of my ass about it, plenty of other folks on here can discuss that (although I am going to try it this year just so I can say I did it and not put all my eggs in one basket). Here is my advice, less than 1% of you will likely take it, but if you do, I will guarantee your job search will be easier and more successful regardless of what school you go to.

(BTW I have sever dyslexia, I’ve tried to proof this as best I can, but my time is limited and I wanted to get this up so I apologize for any spelling errors that got through, auto correct is also my enemy because what it thinks I mean and what I meant are often very different)

1) Realize than that 75% of you will not end up in the top 25% of your class. I do not mean to discourage you, just to point out that you should have a plan B on how you are going to land a job if you do not end up there NOW, not after it happens.

2) Outside of the top 20 or so law schools out there most law students will not land a job from OCI. If you think they do it’s a law school myth. They don’t. And outside the top 25% your odds of getting a job from OCI drop even further. (Note though what I will suggest below works well even at top law schools).

3) 80% of the available law jobs out there are unadvertised word of mouth referral positions. You find out about them from people you know working in the legal field, and those people recommend you for those jobs. There is little competition because few people know about them. This is especially true for mid sized firms, the ones that everyone says don’t exist or don’t hire law grads out of law school, again both of those are myths spread by people who don’t know any better because these places don’t do OCI.

4) You can land a good job out of any law school, regardless of rank, it just takes knowing how the legal profession works AND working that to your advantage from day one. That takes getting out of law school and getting to know lawyers and judges. So many students have problems finding law jobs not because they are not out there, but because they do not know how to properly look for them. I am going to give you advice on how to tap into that hidden job market from my personal experience doing it.

5) First realize the whole point of going to law school is to get a job as a lawyer. This should be your primary concern from day one. I’m not saying grades are not important, of course focus on those too, but don’t lose sight of the main goal, or the forest for the trees if you will. After the semester is over there is nothing you can do about your grades and if you have not already taken the steps to start your job search you will be behind the curve with nothing to rely on.

6) Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Do not go into law school thinking you will land a job through OCI, if you do you won’t take any steps to find one other ways, and if you don’t find one through OCI you will have no plan B. Assume you WILL NOT find a job from OCI and act accordingly. If you do get one from OCI then great, the other steps you have taken will only help your future searches. If you don’t you’re not desperate because you have other leads. The primary reason people female dog about having to take sucky jobs/summer work, I believe from seeing it first hand, is because they failed to plan ahead, they got no offers from OCI and they had to take whatever came along, no matter how crappy that job was. They did not have anything else lined up before hand so they have nothing to choose from. This is a bad position to be in but one the vast majority of your classmates will find themselves in.

7) Networking is the single best way to find a law job. Period. No exceptions. Who you know beats where you go. However, networking takes time and effort to pay off. You need to network for several months BEFORE you tap your network, and you need to stay in regular contact with your network for it to be effective. It’s not something you can do in 30 days and see results. Thus, you need to start from day ONE of 1L building your network so by the end of the first year you have people who know you well and WANT to help you. If you do this and continue to do this by 3L you will have far more offers than anyone else you know at school. You will find out about jobs no one else at school knows about, and you will have your entire network working for you on the job search. You can network your way into good offers, even big law offers. People will tell you can’t network into big law. That is bull by people who talk out of their asses about stuff they have never done. I HAVE DONE IT. I have clerked and gotten an offer at a big law firm that I had no business being at school or rank wise. I also got the job before I even showed them a resume or transcript, I did not have to go through the hiring committee, I was personally hired to work under the managing partner all of this came about from a referral and promotion of me as a candidate from a networking friend I have cultivated (over a year before this connection panned out so he knew me very well, well enough to put his name and rep on the line for me).  Granted its rare, but not because it can’t happen, but because so few people know how to do it or try it.

Current Law Students / My advice to the starting 1Ls (LONG)
« on: August 05, 2008, 05:08:34 PM »
I moved this thread to the pre-law side as that’s where I meant to post it, I posted here by mistake! 

Ok here is the thread to share your tips and tricks on OneNote besides just taking notes for class.

I was playing with Evernote and some things I don’t like: can’t drag drop word docs into notes, no spell checker.

So I started playing around with one note for being a “catch all place” to store random thoughts, list ect. It works pretty cool.
I’m planning a trip so I created a Trip File. With ON there is a button in IE that automatically sends a copy of the webpage your viewing to ON (or you can just lasso a part of a web page and take a snapp shot of it). So I go to tourist info site, click and ON puts it in my side notes, I just drag drop into trip notebook and forever have a copy of the webpage, and I can add notes below it of things I want to see, or links to places I want to visit while I’m there or more web pages.

Click ON button in system tray, side not pops up, type list of “to-do” flag them with a date and they automatically show up in my tasks pain in Outlook as to do list items with a check box.

Click ON button in Outlook and sends e-mail PLUS attachemnts to ON side notes for you to put into a notebook. SWEET

So what else you got?

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