Living in San Diego might be expensive, but if you’re a lawyer here, you just might be able to afford it.
San Diego’s legal salaries are about 15 percent higher than the national average, according to the San Diego office of Robert Half, which provides legal and other specialized staffing services.
First, the national tidbits from Robert Half’s annual survey:
– Salaries for lawyers with four to nine years’ experience, in a large firm, range from $118,000 to $184,250 in 2006, a 0.4 percent increase over 2005; in a midsize firm, $89,250 to $144,000, a 4.4 percent rise; and a small firm, $59,250 to $107,250, a 7.2 percent increase.
– Attorneys with one to three years’ experience, in a large firm, $97,500 to $135,250, 6 percent; midsize firm, $69,750 to $103,750, 3.6 percent; and small firm, $46,750 to $75,250, 6.3 percent.
– First-year associates at large law firms make $91,250 to $123,500, 6.8 percent; midsize firms, $62,750 to $89,250, 3.2 percent; and small firms, $43,500 to $67,500, a 4.5 percent increase.
– Average starting salaries for paralegals will rise 5.6 percent over 2005. At small to midsize law firms, salaries for junior paralegals with two to three years of experience are projected to rise 7.1 percent to between $31,750 and $40,000.
– Pay for case clerks with up to two years of experience at small to midsize law firms is expected to increase 8.1 percent, ranging from $25,750 to $31,000 annually.
– Law office librarians will see the biggest gain of all positions in the legal field, with average starting salaries expected to increase 16 percent over 2005, ranging from $37,750 to $61,750 per year.
– Office clerks will see an average base pay increase of 8.5 percent, ranging from $24,250 to $33,000.
In San Diego, the practice areas experiencing the most growth are patent prosecution, real estate, civil litigation , particularly construction defects , and corporate securities.
A few more pearls:
– Patent prosecution continues to boom, due to the big biotech presence here.
– Real estate has grown in line with the market, with heavy activity in the industry and no signs of easing off.
– Specialists in construction defects are in increasing demand these days, as are corporate securities lawyers.
– Civil litigation is the constant of the legal field, and it will always give lawyers something to do, said Robert Half.
– The legal assistant, a new hybrid of legal secretary and paralegal, is most in demand, along with the traditional legal secretary.
“They are like gold here in San Diego, especially if they have patent prosecution experience,” said Lauren Fay, division director for Robert Half Legal in San Diego.
, Pat Broderick