Oregon State Bar Bulletin — JULY 2005


The market for entry-level associates at law firms has stabilized somewhat, according to a publication from NALP, a national association of legal professionals.

Law firms decreased entry-level hiring by 8.4 percent from 2002 to 2003, but projected a decrease of just 1 percent from 2003 to 2004. Decreases occurred across all firm sizes between 2002 and 2003. But between 2003 and 2004, small firms of 100 or fewer lawyers expected to increase hiring modestly, by 2.2 percent, compared with small decreases at large firms.

Employers had projected that their entry-level hiring would decrease by 8 percent between 2002 and 2003, close to the actual decline of 9.4 percent. Nationwide, about 84 percent of second-year summer associates considered for an associate offer received an offer. This ranged from about 69 percent in firms of 100 or fewer lawyers to about 90 percent in firms of more than 500 lawyers.

For more information about the publication, see www.nalp.org.

A new survey reports the emergence of a broad spectrum of compensation for paralegal professionals based on their specialized roles in legal organizations. The finding was reported in the 2005 Annual Compensation Survey for Paralegals /Legal Assistants and Managers, conducted by Altman Weil Publications, Inc. in partnership with the International Paralegal Management Association (IPMA).

"What was once a relatively flat system, has become more stratified as law firms and law departments get bigger and more sophisticated," notes Altman Weil principal James Wilber. "We are now seeing paralegal managers and other specialists earn twice that of a paralegal and up to three times more than a legal assistant clerk."

Nationally, the average salary for paralegals was $49,677 according to the survey. An annual bonus added an average $2,694 to cash compensation. Two-thirds (66 percent) of paralegals in law firms and law departments reported receiving an annual bonus.

For complete details, see www.altmanweil.com (and click on press releases).

The Oregon chapter of the Association of Legal Administrators has launched its annual community service project. This year the 110-member professional organization is collecting backpacks and school supplies for four school programs, including Schoolhouse Supplies in Portland, the Cascade School District in Salem, the Margaret Nichols Endowment Fund of Eugene and the Vancouver School District Foundation in Vancouver, Wash.

The project began on June 15 and concludes on Aug. 31. Needed items include pencils, crayons, colored pencils, pens, lined paper, spiral notebooks, glue, rulers, backpacks and calculators.

Donations can be made at the chapter’s monthly education meetings or by contacting any of the sponsoring organizations: Holland & Knight; Lindsay, Hart, Neil & Weigler or the Oregon Law Center, all in Portland; Vick & Conroyd (Carol Decker), Salem; Gleaves, Swearingen, Potter & Scott, Eugene; and Miller Nash, Vancouver, Wash. office.

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'Hanging out a shingle' loses luster

An overwhelming majority of attorneys have no ambition of starting their own practice, a new survey shows. Ninety-three percent of lawyers polled said they would not establish a law firm even if they had the necessary capital. This is a steady increase from similar surveys conducted in 2002 and 1997, when 84 percent and 78 percent of lawyers, respectively, reported no interest in flying solo.

The survey was developed by Robert Half Legal, a staffing service specializing in attorneys, paralegals and other legal professionals. It was conducted by an independent research firm and includes responses from 200 attorneys among the 1,000 largest law firms and corporations in the United States and Canada.

Attorneys were asked, "If you had the necessary capital, would you start your own law firm?"

"While it may be exciting, for many attorneys, the allure of starting their own law firm is overshadowed by the many administrative aspects entailed, such as finding and outfitting office space, investing in computer systems, acquiring clients, and hiring and retaining staff," said Charles Volkert, executive director of Robert Half Legal. "These responsibilities demand time and energy that lawyers may prefer devoting to the actual practice of law."

For more information, see www.roberthalflegal.com.