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Here's What Attorneys Should Earn in 2017

By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. | Last updated on

It's that time of the year again: the time to see how your salary measures up against everyone else's and how you might do in the year ahead. Robert Half Legal, the legal staffing agency, has released its 2017 Salary Guide, a survey of legal professional salaries across a wide range of careers, practice areas, and years of experience.

So far, 2017 is looking like a decent year to be a lawyer, as most attorneys can expect a fair increase over last year's salary, particularly attorneys with four or more years of experience. Here are the highlights.

Attorney Salaries

The Robert Half survey examines salaries by firm size and years of experience, looking only at salary and not additional pay such as bonuses, perks, and other compensation. We've included a quick overview of expected 2017 salaries and their percent increase over 2016 below, but if you want to the full view, including information on support staff, in-house counsel, and geographic differences, you'll have to download the full report.

First Year Associate
2017 Salary
Percent Growth
Small firm
56,500 - 82,000


Small/midsize firm
65,000 - 92,500


Midsize firm
84,250 - 116,500


Lawyer (1-3 years exp)
2017 Salary Percent Growth
Small firm
66,500 - 95,00


Small/midsize firm
74,250 - 113,500


Midsize firm
97,500 - 134,250


Lawyer (4-9 years exp)
2017 Salary Percent Growth
Small firm
86,500 - 143,500


Small/midsize firm
114,750 - 183,00


Midsize firm
146,250 - 210,250


Lawyer (10+ years exp)
2017 Salary Percent Growth
Small firm
122,000 - 172,500


Small/midsize firm
146,000 - 201,500


Midsize firm
185,750 - 270,500


Where the Growth Is

The report goes beyond just salary data to identify practice areas likely to experience growth in the coming years, based on predictions from 200 attorneys. Like last year, litigation and corporate law dominated job growth. Healthcare law, however, after being listed as considered the third most promising practice area last year, is now nowhere to be found.

Here are the top five:

1. Litigation, identified as a growth area by 36 percent of respondents
2. General business and commercial law, 25 percent
3. Personal and family law, eight percent
4. Real estate law, four percent
5. Intellectual property, three percent.

There you have it. Our congratulations go out to litigation attorneys at small/midsize firms with four to nine years of experience. Enjoy that new house, new car, or final loan payment!

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