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MENLO PARK, Calif., Oct. 31, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Average starting salaries for legal professionals in the United States are projected to increase 2.7 percent overall in 2014, according to the just-released Robert Half Legal 2014 Salary Guide. The largest gains in annual base compensation are anticipated for lawyers, paralegals and legal secretaries at midsize and small-to-midsize law firms. Legal specialists with litigation support and compliance administration expertise also should see greater-than-average salary gains.
Robert Half Legal is a legal staffing firm specializing in lawyers, paralegals and other highly skilled legal professionals. The company's annual Salary Guide is based on extensive research, as well as local and national employment data gathered from Robert Half Legal offices throughout North America.
"As law firms and corporate legal departments focus on supporting renewed business activity and related requests for legal services, the market is tightening for attorneys and legal support professionals with expertise in high-demand practice areas, such as healthcare, litigation and commercial law," said Charles Volkert, executive director of Robert Half Legal. "Although salaries have not returned to prerecession levels, more organizations are making the necessary changes in compensation to attract the best candidates and retain their most valued employees."
Volkert added that employers are seeking experienced candidates who can immediately provide expertise to new or existing casework. "Increasingly, companies and law firms are competing for top talent as general counsel expand internal teams to address rising workloads and managing partners make strategic hires to support lucrative practice groups," said Volkert.
According to Robert Half Legal research, average starting salaries for lawyers at law firms are expected to increase 3.1 percent in 2014. Lawyers with four to nine years' experience at a midsize law firm (35-75 lawyers) will see the greatest gains in compensation. Starting salaries for this position are expected to increase 4.8 percent, to the average range of $124,750 to $187,500 annually. Lawyers with 10-plus years' experience at small-to-midsize law firms (10-35 lawyers) will see starting salaries rise 4.5 percent, to the range of $124,750 to $179,000 per year. First-year associates at small-to-midsize law firms will earn between $61,000 and $86,250, a 3.0 percent increase from 2013 projections.
Corporate attorneys will see average compensation gains of 3.1 percent over 2013 levels. Starting salaries for in-house counsel with 10-plus years' experience at large companies (more than $250 million in revenue) will rise 3.7 percent, to the range of $171,750 to $245,750 annually.
Legal Support Positions
Law firms are expected to see paralegal salary increases of 2.4 percent in 2014. Senior/supervising paralegals with seven-plus years' experience at a midsize law firm should see average starting salaries rise by 3.9 percent, to the range of $62,750 to $77,250 annually.
Legal secretaries at law firms can expect average starting salaries to increase 2.3 percent in 2014. Senior/executive legal secretaries with 12-plus years' experience at small law firms will see the highest starting salaries in the range of $45,250 to $58,500 per year, a 3.0 percent increase from 2013.
Starting salaries for legal professionals with litigation support expertise are predicted to rise 3.6 percent, on average. Litigation support directors with 10-plus years' experience should see starting salaries increase by 4.6 percent, to the range of $91,500 to $117,750.
Other key findings from the Robert Half Legal 2014 Salary Guide include:
- Compliance managers with seven to nine years' experience can expect average starting salaries to rise by 4.3 percent, to the range of $86,250 to $106,250 per year.
- Compensation for contract administrators with four-plus years' experience is projected to increase 4.0 percent, to the annual range of $64,500 to $105,250.
- Lease administrators will see average base compensation increase 3.1 percent, to the range of $52,500 to $73,750 annually.
- In-house paralegals with four to six years' experience at a small company (up to $25 million in revenue) are expected to earn $49,000 to $59,000 annually, a 3.1 percent increase from 2013 levels.
- In-house legal secretaries with three to six years' experience at a large company will earn $49,750 to $62,500 per year, on average, a 3.0 percent increase.
- Starting salaries for law librarians are projected to rise 2.6 percent, to the range of $45,750 to $72,000 per year.
About the Robert Half Legal Salary Guide
The Robert Half Legal 2014 Salary Guide includes projected starting salary ranges for more than 100 legal positions. This information is derived from the thousands of full-time and project placements handled nationwide by Robert Half Legal's recruiting and staffing professionals. Continuing or ongoing salaries are not reported as a number of factors, such as service time and work ethic, make ongoing pay difficult to measure. Bonuses, incentives and other forms of compensation, including benefits and retirement packages, also are not taken into account.
Robert Half Legal's annual Salary Guide is used extensively by law firms and corporate legal departments to determine appropriate compensation levels for employees. In addition, job seekers, academic institutions, legal associations and government agencies rely on the guide for current data on salaries and trends in the legal field. The U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics has cited the Salary Guide when compiling the Occupational Outlook Handbook.
About Robert Half Legal
Robert Half Legal is the legal staffing division of Robert Half. The company provides law firms and corporate legal departments with highly skilled professionals, including lawyers, paralegals and legal support personnel, on a project and full-time basis. With North American and global locations, Robert Half Legal also offers managed review and e-discovery services. More information, including online job search services, can be found at www.roberthalflegal.com.
SOURCE Robert Half Legal