Oregon State Bar Bulletin — DECEMBER 2006

According to the 2006 Associate Salary Survey just released by NALP, a national legal placement firm, the median, and in fact prevailing, first-year associate salary at firms of 501-plus lawyers rose to $135,000 this year. This represents an increase of $10,000 over the median figure for the previous five years — a figure that was steady at $125,000 from 2000 through 2005. At small firms of 25 or fewer lawyers, the median was unchanged at $67,000. The median starting salary for firms of all sizes was $105,000 — which compares to a 2005 median of $100,000.

The prevailing salary in the largest firms rose to $135,000 in a number of cities: Austin, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles and Orange County, the San Francisco Bay area and Washington, D.C. In New York, the prevailing salary increased even more, to $145,000.

A total of 564 offices provided salary information as of April 1, 2006.

As expected, each year of associate experience brings several thousand dollars in increased compensation: median salaries for eighth- year associates ranged from $105,000 in small firms to $197,000 in the largest firms, with a median for all reporting firms of $150,000.

The volume of data in this year’s survey allowed analyses for 27 individual cities as well as many additional states and regions not encompassed by those cities. These analyses reveal a wide range of law firm compensation.

More detailed results by city and region, including medians, averages and ranges of base salaries for associates through the eighth year, as well as information on aggregate compensation for associates and compensation structures, are found in the complete 2006 Associate Salary Survey, available from www.nalp.org.

Juris, Inc., a provider of law firm business software, announced the release of the latest annual Juris Law Firm Economic Survey. The survey of midsized firms covers financial results for the year 2005.

"We found that the top performing firms excelled across all key performance indicators, not just one or two," said Stephen Collins, Juris president and CEO. "Firms that understand those factors, set goals, measure performance and hold people accountable can dramatically enhance partner income."

The Juris economic survey is unique in targeting midsized law firms. "The disparity in per-partner income between the top performing 25 percent of firms and the rest of the pack is eye-opening," Collins said. "Partners in the top 25 percent earn twice the income of the next quartile and more than seven times the per-partner income of the lowest 25 percent. Midsized law firms can use the 55-page survey report to identify where they stand against their peers."

The annual Juris survey is available for $375. For more information or to purchase the survey, go to www.juris.com.

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With 95 percent of Portland businesses employing fewer than 50 workers, small businesses are the backbone of Portland’s economy. But until recently, there were no coordinated legal services in Oregon dedicated to serving the needs of small, low-income and minority entrepreneurs. Enter a woman with a vision. Lisa LeSage, assistant dean and director of the business law program at Lewis & Clark Law School, has organized a law clinic to serve small business clients in distressed areas that could not otherwise afford legal help. The Small Business Legal Clinic opened its doors on Oct. 5.

After obtaining funding commitments from the major Portland law firms Tonkon Torp, Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt and Stoel Rives, as well as the Portland Business Alliance and Bank of the West, LeSage approached the Portland mayor’s office and the Portland Development Commission and suggested a public/private partnership between the city and Lewis & Clark. The clinic received a $100,000 grant from the city and reduced-cost office space from the Portland Development Commission in its own building on the corner of Northwest Fifth and Everett streets in downtown Portland.

In addition to providing practical experience for Lewis & Clark law students, the clinic ensures the increased availability of business-transactions attorneys able to provide pro bono legal assistance in their areas of expertise.

It is believed to be the only business law clinic in the country that has a coordinated pro bono component certified by the state bar, as well as funding from the city, the chamber of commerce, business and major law firms.

Read more about the clinic at www.lclark.edu/ dept/blaw/sblc.html.