New salary data confirms that contrasts between starting salaries at big private law firms and those at many government and public interest organizations are "stark," reports NALP, a legal-career organization.
According to NALP's 2008 Public Sector and Public Interest Attorney Salary Report, the median entry-level salary for an attorney in civil legal services is $40,000. It's $41,000 for a new lawyer at public interest organizations with issue-driven missions. Public defenders start at $47,435; state prosecutors at $50,000.
NALP notes, "The $160,000 starting salary found by [NALP's 2008] Associate Salary Survey to be typical at big firms in big cities is beyond what even the most experienced attorneys can reasonably expect at a public sector organization.”
NALP surveyed public sector and public interest offices across the nation; 658 organizations completed the survey.