ABA President Stephen N. Zack recently told the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin that law schools must do a better job of providing accurate information about the salary each school's graduates can realistically expect to make once they begin practicing law. The ABA Journal reports $60,000 a year as the current median salary. At $60,000, it will be both difficult and discouraging for new grads trying to pay off six figure debt.
Previously on the Hub, we've discussed the need for greater transparency in the information law schools provide new and prospective students, noting the push to include employment information in law school rankings.
Will the scary salary reality for new lawyers improve as the economy heals? For some, maybe, but as law firms look to find new ways to save on salaries, reduce overhead and be more competitive, it appears many of the higher paying positions are gone for good. The question "can you AFFORD to go to Law School" becomes a decision not to be taken lightly by any prospective student. Add to those concerns some new disturbing statistics about women in the legal profession. In a recent WSJ Law Blog article, "Where have all the Women Lawyers Gone," it was noted that women remain dramatically underrepresented in law firm partnership and leadership ranks. NAWL's 2010 Retention and Promotion of Women in Law Firms Survey is full of grim statistics. Women equity partners earn about 85 cents on the dollar compared to their male counterparts---and that's if you can even find a woman in that position. Women account for just 15% of equity partners. WSJ also notes one growing cause of salary inequity in firms is the increase in use of contract or staff attorneys. This phenomenon was referred to as the "Pink Ghetto" in a recent Above the Law post about the escalating use of female staff attorneys in law firms. With more than 60 percent of staff attorney positions held by women, it represents the highest percentage of women lawyers in any category or position in law firms.
Above the Law
WSJ Law Blog
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin
NAWL's 2010 Retention and Promotion of Women in Law Firms Survey