STATE OF MARKET 1.800.973.1177PAGE 1Climbing first-year associate salaries havereached a plateau at large firms, whilestarting offers from small to mid-size firmsare inching upward slightly, according to the2003 Salary Guide produced by The Affiliateslegal staffing firm.The 2003 guide actually reports a 6.8 percentdecline in starting salaries for large firms(more than 75 attorneys) and a 3.6 percentdecline for mid-size firms of 35 to 75 attor-neys. At the same time, smaller firm salariesincreased by an average of 2 percent. Thosefigures are based strictly on starting salarycompensation and do not include bonuses,profit sharing or other incentives that mayimpact total first year compensation.Salary data used by The Affiliates was com-piled through the company’s job searches,candidate placements and salary negotia-tions and did not identify individual firms.Perhaps not surprisingly, the large nationalfirms contacted by The National Jurist re-ported their salary levels as flat, althoughseveral said they had heard that other largefirms were cutting back.Law school career services professionalsreported that while they have not seen majorchanges in starting salaries yet, some firmshave either cut back slightly on hiring orpushed back start dates. Some 2L summerassociates found their hours cut back - a fewby as much as half - as firms trimmed salaryoverhead.“For the ones coming back with offers[from last summer], the salary seems to beabout the same,” said Diane Downs, careerservices director at the University of ChicagoSchool of Law. “We haven’t seen salaries godown.”Downs reported that 2002 Chicago graduatesjoining large firms received average start-ing salaries in the $125,000 range and saidearly indications are that 2003 offers will besimilar.Douglas Masters, hiring attorney with thePattishall, McAuliffe boutique firm in Chica-go, said his small to mid-size firm’s salarieshave been flat for first-year associates.“We don’t anticipate an increase - we wouldonly do so if there was pressure to do it toremain competitive,” Masters said.Beth Kirch, director of legal career servicesat the University of Georgia, said that despitea hiring slowdown in some practice areas,salaries have held firm at the big firms, whileactually increasing at smaller firms in theSoutheast.“It’s been holding steady,” Kirch said. “Inalmost 20 years in the field, I’ve never seensalaries roll back - they tend to hold steadyfor a few years and then escalate again. InAtlanta, small firms are not paying the six-digit salaries larger firms are, but they’retrying to go after the same students, so theyhave to raise their salaries somewhat.”Marcia Cook, recruiting manager for thenational Blackwell Sanders Peper Martinfirm, said that firm starting salaries were ap-proximately $80,000 in Kansas City, Mo., and$90,000 in the St. Louis market in 2002. Sheindicated they would be the same or slightlyhigher in 2003.At the University of Texas in Austin, assistantdean of career services Kathryn Richardsonsaid she had not detected any salary roll-backs, with firms in the Texas market aver-aging $90,000 to start, from a low of $40,000to $50,000 to a high of $140,000.This story appeared in the January 2003edition of The National Jurist, www.nation-aljurist.com.Firms hold line on first year salaries[by Jim Dunlap]Some large ﬁrms cut back, but pay increasing in smaller ofﬁces.