Thursday, January 24, 2013

Salary for Legal Jobs in Las Vegas

Let's get back to one of our favorite topics--getting paid! Judging by how often it comes up in the comments of unrelated posts, this is one of your favorite topics too. It is such a broad topic and difficult to discuss for many reasons, the first of which is that many employers don't want you to be having this conversation because they're afraid you'll realize how much you're actually underpaid and that the wizard is really just a little man behind a curtain.  

Because of the breadth of this topic, let's start out with a few pieces of information. According to a Las Vegas Sun article dated September 2, 2012, in 2011, the mean (or average for those lawyers reading this) annual salary for lawyers in Las Vegas was $118,390. The article does not account for where it got is numbers. Another Sun article, reporting on the Young Lawyers 2011 compensation survey, reported that the average salaries for attorneys who have practiced 5 years or less was in the range of $80,000 to $85,000. The same article also notes that the average starting salary for Boyd grads was $71,456. Finally, according to an unverified source calling himself Dr. Evil, there are some partners that made ONE MILLION DOLLARS in 2011!  (Can you even imagine?) 

So, what can we tell from this small sampling of numbers. After the obvious disclaimer that these numbers may not be accurate, the most obvious fact is that there is a very wide range of salaries in Las Vegas. Beyond that, all else is speculation (except for county employee salaries which are available here). And that's where we invite your comments.  

To help get you started, we quote one of our frequent commenters, Jordan Ross, who recently posted, "As a VERY rough rule of thumb, assume that general commercial firms are all within about 15% plus or minus of each other. Then assume that the high volume commercial firms are about the same with an overall range about 25-30% less than the general commercial firms. Retail firms are usually about on a par with the County Counsel's office."

What are your thoughts? 

25 comments:

  1. Small Construction defect defense firm. Second year associate. $70k. Yeah, my life sucks.

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  2. 10:18 - I made $65,000 my second year. Your life doesn't suck as much as you think it does.

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  3. Second year making 70k. I feel extremely fortunate. 10:18, you need to head over to Law School Transparency and look at the salary distributions for your school. I am in the top 10% of my class for salaries (though I wasn't even close to top 10% for grades).

    http://www.lstscorereports.com/?r=nv

    According to LST, the biggest feeder schools to this market are UNLV, BYU and Utah. For all three schools, a salary of $70k puts you in approximately the top 20% if you were from the Class of 2011.

    Count your blessings, brother/sister. We are among the more fortunate. There are a lot of very competent classmates that have far less than we do.

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  4. 130k - 2d year. being a lawyer still sucks.

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  5. 2nd year making $90 not including bonuses.

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  6. I agree with 1:57. And 10:08/11:41 are statistical anomalies.

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  7. No offense, but what firm can afford to pay a second year $130K in Vegas? I presume that firm will not be around long.

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  8. I heard wineberg wheeler pays 130 to first years. i imagine 2d years at the other big firms make around that. i know bhfs was advertising a spot for 2-4 years, and they advertised 120k-160k.

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  9. Most vegas Nalp firms pay first years 110-116 k. 130 for a second year isnt too much of a stretch for those firms.

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  10. Before I left my job at an LV branch of a larger ~300 attorney firm 3 years ago near the end of my 2nd year, 1st years were $110k and 2nd years were $125k. I left because it was sucking the life out of me and my wife said I was becoming an asshole.

    I like the small firm life better (~4-6 attorneys). Less money (about $100k starting my 5th year) but I work maybe one Saturday every other month instead of every single Saturday and some Sundays at that prior firm.

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  11. I too left a big firm I was making $130K there in fourth year. Now a sixth year at firm with 4 to 8 lawyers (don't want to give away which) and making $100K to $105K.

    And have a life here. Way better.

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  12. 3-lawyer firm. 3rd year. Made $70,000. Yes, it sucks.

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  13. My own firm. A couple of hundred k. Happier and healthier. Vacation when I want. Work as hard as I want. Every dime I make, I "make." No passive aggressive overlords issuing arbitrary rules ever other day. No politics. I love being a lawyer.

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    1. Any advice to New grads, husband and wife team, who would like to relocate to Vegas from the Midwest?

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  14. So, I'm flipping through the channels because the Pro Bowl is on halftime, and I run into the Suze Orman show on PBS. She's talking to this college student who's asking her about the wisdom of taking out student loans.

    She told him that when he graduates, he might not get his dream job, and he'll be telling himself that he was stupid for going to school, for taking out those loans. And she told his "Don't you dare do that." She also told him how wonderful it was that he could dream and those student loans represented that dream. And he should take 2 and even 3 jobs when he's 18, 19, through his 20s when he's young and has the stamina to do that so he can make his student loan payments. The filthy things I screamed at this lady can not be expressed in polite society.

    I bring this up because the dream of young law students is not to take a job making $65k so that they can spend the next 30 years paying off their student loans. They shoot for the brass ring, and it becomes a brass anchor weighing them down. In that way, posts like this fill a needed space. Sure, you can look at NALP and see what the NALP firms are paying their summers and first year associates. But the important information is: if I practice in Las Vegas, what can I reasonably expect to make after law school? And it looks like the consensus is in: Unless you get recruited, expect to be unemployed or making, at most, $60-70k. Less if you go with DA/PD. And unless you were recruited, don't expect to be able to jump ship for more money. It ain't there either.

    Yep. It's a great time to be graduating law school.

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  15. Tell me again why student loans cannot be included in bankruptcy . . . .

    Seems silly and arbitrary that they cannot be.

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  16. 2:02 p.m.

    Blame the doctors (and lawyers I suppose). For years it was common practice to go into hock through undergrad, med-school and then residency. Once a big time first job was secured, or private practice was opened, the doctor filed BK and walked away happy in the knowledge he or she would be able to afford the "doctor's lifestyle."

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  17. also freshly graduated students are not a real powerful voting block -- easy to blame them for society's ills (like "welfare queens" and "anchor babies") so it is politically convenient to show your tough side by issuing rules that screw them.

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  18. Darn right. We pursue the American dream. We become productive members of society (for the most part). And we get to pay for the experience. While your billing your 8 today, think of all the people nodding off on their couches while watching Opera - all on your dime.

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  19. Since this is condencial...I tried going out on my own a few years ago when I got laid off. I gave it a try for a year. I barely made any money. Was working 12 hours a day trying to run the business and practice law at the same time. My wife was preggo, so I started looking for a job and found one. Making about $100K as a fifth-year. Mid-sized firm. Way better than all the work I was doing as a solo.

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  20. Oops, meant "confidential".

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  21. I just went solo a few months ago, almost 4 years exactly after getting my bar card. I made $69k straight out of law school working for a small firm. I slowly worked my way up to $80k for my third year (this was all during the recession so raises weren't coming easy).

    I finally decided that it was time to go out on my own. The first few months of solo practice were a rollercoaster, but I haven't lost money and have been able to pay myself a salary. I'm hoping to net between $80-100k this year. I will say that solo practice is much more rewarding because I "eat what I kill." I would recommend it to any attorney who thinks he/she can stomach the risk.

    That said, ask me again a year from now and my opinion may have changed...

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  22. @4:09 AM:

    One piece of advice - stay away from Alverson Taylor. They chew up new associates and spit them out quickly.

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  23. @2:58 PM - ATM&S is a hell of a lot better of a firm than most of the firms that a recent grad can expect to work at. Standard to make 6 figures within 3 years. Associates quit not necessarily because the work sucks, but because other big firms that offer better salaries like to recruit from ATM&S. Also, benefits suck at ATM&S, but it's still better than most places in Vegas.

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