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Solos' Salaries: Good News, Bad News

At, Carolyn Elefant -- who does double duty as co-blogger here at Legal Blog Watch -- uncovers a salary chart showing earnings for solo practitioners and finds in it good news and bad news. The chart shows median salary for a solo recently out of law school is $50,000. The number works its way up to a peak of $110,000 for a solo who has been at it for 20 years or more. This is good news for recent law grads interested in solo practice, Elefant suggests:

First, for newbie lawyers (under 5 years out of school) who don't have the $160k large firm option, solo practice either matches or exceeds the salaries that these lawyers would earn at a small firm or working for a prosecutor or public defender.

But the leveling off of salary once solos reach the 10-year mark means that later-career solos need to make changes if they want higher income:

At that point, I think solos have a choice if they want to increase earnings: either diversify their business model to take on alternative fee or contingency cases, or outsource or hire an associate, and earn a profit off that person's work.

As for larger-firm lawyers leaving to start solo practices, Elefant says, the chart indicates they may have to take a pay cut "unless you can take one or two 'anchor clients' who can guarantee a decent baseload income." Of course, with that pay cut comes "more flexibility over your schedule and more hands on experience."

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on January 31, 2007 at 03:38 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)


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