Silicon Valley law partners are the highest-paid in the nation, according to a new report, earning an average of $1,433,000 a year in compensation.
The Major, Lindsey & Africa (MLA) 2016 Partner Compensation survey of 77,000 law firm partners in Am Law 200, NLJ 350 and Global 100-size firms across the United States reported that Silicon Valley law partners are by far the highest compensated in the nation.
Lowly New York City was second at $1,168,000 a year, followed by Los Angeles at $1,136,000, Houston at $1,062,000 and San Francisco at $997,000 a year.
It is hard to feel sad for law partners that did not live in Silicon Valley. The average compensation for the 77,000 law firm partners in the study was $877,000, up 22% from $716,000 in 2014. The average billing rate for all the U.S. law partners was $685, up $77 an hour, or 13 percent from $608 in 2014.
Bob Brigham, a partner operating out of a thriving Palo Alto firm with a high tech expertise commented, “I think most of the Am Law 100 firms would love to have an office here, but it’s a very small market.” He added, “It’s a fun, energetic, fast-moving practice.”
Los Angeles saw a spike in partner compensation, with a 38 percent increase between 2014 and 2016. Brigham said that rise may be due to law firms’ desire to expand on the West Coast, due to its proximity to Asia.
Among the seven practice areas analyzed for the survey, labor & employment partners continue to report the lowest average compensation at $597,000, and corporate partners were the highest earners, at a $1,055,000 average.
The top paid average law firm partner demographic was Hispanic, at $956,000; followed by Asian Pacific partners, at $875,000; white partners, at $876,000; and black partners at $797,000.
While law partners are doing very well, the market for entry-level law associates has been weak enough to dampen new law school applications, even at the most prestigious institutions.