How Much Do First-Year In House Jobs Pay?

By Robyn Hagan Cain on March 12, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

An in-house gig is the promised land for plenty of lawyers. If you’re already reviewing documents and handling transactions all day long, why not do it without a billable requirement?

While most of us look at in-house job as the treat that follows years of toiling in a firm, some people skip straight into the corporate counsel’s office. But how does an entry level counsel position pay? Can a new lawyer actually afford to pay rent and student loans when starting at the bottom of the in-house food chain?

According to the InHouse Blog, in-house salaries are on the rise. Projected compensation for in house attorneys at any experience level is expected to increase by 3 percent in 2013.

So how do those numbers compare to traditional law jobs? The Robert Half Legal 2013 Salary Guide offers puts that 3 percent into perspective.

In 2013, Robert Half Legal estimates that first-year associates will pull in anywhere between $52,000 and $134,250 at law firms. (As a legal staffing agency, Robert Half probably knows a thing or two about lawyer salaries.) Here are the breakdowns by firm size:

  • Large law firm (75+ attorneys): $109,000 - $134,250
  • Midsize law firm (35-75 lawyers): $76,000 - $104,500
  • Small/midsize law firm (10-35 lawyers): $58,250 - $84,750
  • Small law firm (up to 10 lawyers): $52,000 - $74,500.

In the in-house world, a first-year associate is expected to pull in between $66,250 and $100,250. That's 2.6 percent higher than first-year associate in-house salaries in 2012. That increase percentage is even more impressive when you consider that law firm salaries for first years are only projected to increase between 1.5 percent (at large firms) and 2.1 percent (at midsize/small firms).

If you're a law student or recent graduate looking for a job, consider corporate counsel openings. For job listings, try checking FindLaw's Career Center or an in-house job site like

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