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Monday, February 18, 2008

Show me the money? No thanks, says this law student

A local law student had an interesting reply to our post on the decision of big Minnesota-based law firms to keep their starting salaries at $120K rather than to match the $160K being offered in bigger markets. I think the comment is worth highlighting, so here it is:

As a law student (OCI next year, so no dog in the race yet), I'm happy to see
Minnesota law firms showing some sanity on salaries. First, $120k is a darn good
salary in this market. Second, maybe it means that Minnesota firms will be
better positioned to ride through a recession. Finally, I agree that higher
starting salaries would probably come with higher hours expectations, and I'd
rather make $120k and see my family than $160k and live in my office

You mean there is more to life than money? What are they teaching these kids today? What would Gordon Gekko say?


Anonymous said...

As a law student, I have a hard time justifying working in the twin cities due to the lag in compensation. A low starting salary coupled with small bonuses and relatively similar hours, the large law firms in Minnesota do not provide enough of an incentive to choose them over large firms in other cities. The difference in salaries is larger than the mere $40k difference for first years. ($160k v. $120k) The difference is more significant when looking at midlevel associate compensation. Midlevel associates at firms in other markets make significantly more in total compensation, sometimes creating a $100k compensation difference. While itt is true that these markets often have higher billing requirements, associates at the large Minnesota firms are still billing out similar hours. These are problems that Minnesota firms will have until they decide to compete nationally.

Mark Cohen, editor said...

You also bring up a good point, law student #2. I am cognizant of how market forces can play into a decision like this -- the old invisible hand of Adam Smith pulling you away. Firms are definitely risking their top potential hires if they allow the differential in pay to get too great. It's hard to blame new lawyers for making decisions that are in their own best financial interests. How long do you think a firm would keep you employed there if it wasn't in theirs?

Anonymous said...

As a recent law grad from one of the Minnesota law schools, I think it is clear that there is no shortage of new attorneys that will work in the Twin Cities for the going rate.
There will always be a few "salary gunners" that will move for the top dollar of other markets, but the people that have the resume (and the desire) for those positions are relatively few in number.
With four law schools here I know plenty of recent grads that would love to be working for $80k let alone $120k. Being in the place you want to be because of lifestyle, family or _____________ (fill in your reason) provides enough offset for the big money of Chicago, New York or D.C. This subject is periodically brought up on the Greedy Minnesota board (on Greedy Associates) and posters there provide similar thoughts on the subject.