NALP reports modest salaries for US public interest lawyers
The National Association for Law Placement (NALP) has published its latest round of jobs figures, with rough news for public interest lawyers
The median entry-level salary for public-sector and public interest lawyers has grown by between 23 and 29 percent since NALP began tracking them in 2004, but the increase has barely kept pace with the rising Consumer Price Index—so the new crop of public interest attorneys are really earning wages comparable to those paid to lawyers who entered the field close to a decade earlier.
"During the same period, the cost of legal education and the average amount of law school student loan debt have both risen at a much higher pace—which means that despite favorable changes in the federal loan repayment options available to law school graduates working in the public interest, there are still significant economic disadvantages at play as law students consider whether or not to pursue public interest legal careers," NALP executive director James Leipold said.
NALP reports that new public defenders have a median salary of about $50,500, while a starting legal services attorney can expect to earn about $43,000. Those salaries increase to about $78,600 and $65,000, respectively, after 11– 15 years of experience. Local prosecutors start at a median $50,000, which rises to nearly $70,000 after 11– 15 years. Lawyers at issue-driven public interest organizations typically start at about $45,000 and earn about $75,000 after 11 or more years‘ experience.
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