Excerpts from the New York Times- April 4, 2009
According to The American Lawyer big law firms may be hurtling toward “a paradigm-shifting, blood-in-the-suites” future as law firms are closing and associates are being laid off. The Law Shucks blog has a “layoff tracker,” and it is grim reading. Heller Ehrman, a venerable 500-plus-lawyer New York firm founded in 1890 — has closed.
A lot of hard-working lawyers and associates are suddenly finding themselves with six-figure student-loan debts and no source of income. Some law firms are reducing pay for both partners and associates.
Years ago, law firm starting salaries were not that different from government or public-interest jobs. But the gap has become a chasm. First-year salaries at top firms are around $160,000, compared with $48,000 to start for state and local prosecutors and $40,000 for legal-services lawyers. New associates often earn more than the judges they appear before.