The recession has whacked salaries of associates of big law firms, but has not reduced the disparity in starting associate salaries according to Study Shows Sharp Disparities in Law Associate Compensation. The study is based on 2008 starting salaries. Since 2000 starting associate salaries abandoned a bell-curve distribution for a distribution with two peaks. The first is part of a small bell curve between $40,00 and $65,000 and accounts for 42% of starting salaries. The line trends down steadily to $65,000 and then soars to a narrow peak between $160,000 and $170,000, where 23% of starting salaries lie. A rollback in starting salaries and re-engineering of associate compensation models should move that peak to the left in coming years–it may “inch back toward the $145,000 range” flatten the curve. In other words the low end will remain low and the high end will move closer to it.
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