Tuesday, September 14, 2010

You mean misleading factoid of the day.

The problem with the survey you cite is that it doesn't appear to be an apples to apples comparison. It just says that that the median income for all lawyers in private practice is $116,000 and that the median income for federal government lawyer is $126,000. From this, you suggest, perhaps unintentionally, that the government is paying too much for its attorneys. Or perhaps, your suggestion is that because the government prints money it doesn't care what it pays its employees.

But the survey is profession wide. It counts the income of competent lawyers and incompetent lawyers equally. It also counts the salaries of small firm or solo practitioners in the same category as attorneys at large law firms. The feds are not hiring from the pool of all lawyers. As I understand it, the feds are hiring from the same pool of applicants as the big firms. According to the fine folks at Above The Law, associate salaries at big law firms are over 20% higher than the government lawyer salary you cite.

Also, note this oddity: your survey points out that government lawyers who are less than 9 months from graduating law school make less than half what new lawyers in private practice make. Apparently the government cares enough about what it pays its employees that it isn't throwing money at the newbies.

1 comment:

  1. Part ot this is probably because the government almost never lays anyone off and virtually never gives pay cuts (why should they? Their profits [!} never fall.) And the government usually gives cost-of-livings [this year may be an exception]. Adding together longevity, long-term security, COLAs, and "merit" raises will get you an ongoing steady increase in pay. On the other hand, there is never a strike-up-the-band upside windfall.


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