Attorneys in High-Demand Practice Areas in Short Supply

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By Michael Greene

Feb. 17 — Litigation, corporate law, compliance, health care and intellectual property are areas in which attorneys can command high salaries, a new report said.

According to Robert Half Legal's 2016 Salary Guide, legal professionals with skills and experience in these and other in-demand practice areas are in short supply and are receiving multiple job offers, counteroffers and, in some cases, signing bonuses.

To attract such candidates, law firms and corporate legal departments are offering higher salaries and benefits along with other perks, including work flexibility.

“Employers are placing a premium on associates and paralegals who can assume full caseloads and deliver quality results to clients,” Robert Half Legal Executive Director Charles Volkert said in a Feb. 17 release. “The most sought after legal professionals possess three to five-plus years of experience in a hot practice area, technological proficiency and strong interpersonal skills.”

According to a survey by the legal staffing consultant, attorneys at large law firms and companies said litigation and general business/commercial law are the practice areas expected to generate the highest number of legal jobs in the next two years.

Pay Bump

In other findings, the report projected that the starting salary ranges for legal professionals will increase across a variety of positions.

The average starting salary of in-house attorneys with zero to over ten years of experience at companies with over $250 million in revenue is expected to be between $125,750 to $259,750 in 2016.

The report also found that experience counts. In-house counsel at companies with over $250 million in revenue with four to nine years of experience and ten or more years of experience can expect to see increases of 3.7 and 3.4 percent, respectively, in their average starting pay in 2016, the report said. Conversely, the starting salary range for in-house attorneys with zero to three years' experience is expected to increase by only 2.9 percent.

Meanwhile, attorneys at large law firms with over 75 lawyers can expect similar increases in their starting salaries this year. Attorneys at these firms with four to nine years of experience and ten-plus years of experience can expect their starting salaries to increase by 4 percent, while first-year associates and attorneys with one to three years' experience can expect increases of 2.7 percent in their starting salary ranges.

The report said the projected salary ranges represent starting compensation only; bonuses, incentives and other benefits weren't taken into account. Robert Half's projections are based upon a number of sources, including job placements, the consulting firm said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael Greene in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Yin Wilczek at