Call them the Lords of the Bling. Salaries for first year associates in a few white-shoe firms rose to $160,000 in 2007.
How much more is that in billable hours? One blogger referred to this leap of faith as the “Great Associate Salary Spike of 2007” and calculated that if associates at Simpson Thatcher were billed out at $300 an hour, they'd need to work an additional 50 hours per year to cover the increase. The median for first year associates at firms with 500+ attorneys is actually a little lower at $145,000, according to the recently released NALP 2007 Associate Salary Survey, but it’s still a $10K jump over last year’s numbers.
What about the rest of the new lawyers? Keep in mind that those massive salaries apply to only a small fraction of first year attorneys. According to Payscale, the median salary nationally for recent law school grads is between $50,000 and $60,000.