Not too long ago, any half-bright young Ivy League whelp with a taste for fluorescent lighting and endless drudgery could get an entry-level lawyer job in a big city for a fat salary. Sadly, it's not quite so easy any more.
According to the latest salary figures from the NALP, first-year attorneys are now working for literal crumbs. Crumbs! [To clarify: "overall national median first-year salary at firms of all sizes was $125,000, unchanged since 2012."] Whereas just a few years ago tons of little shits were getting paid $160K as first-year corporate servants, now there are fewer little shits getting paid $160K in their first year of a slowly unfolding process of regretting their life choices. From the NALP:
Although first-year associate salaries of $160,000 are still common at large firms of more than 700 lawyers — especially in large markets — the prevalence of $160,000 salaries at these firms as a whole is far below what it was just five years ago, accounting for just over one-quarter of the salaries reported by firms of this size. In 2014, first-year associate salaries of $160,000 accounted for 27% of the salaries reported by firms of that size. By contrast, in 2009 nearly two-thirds of first-year salaries were reported as $160,000
At what salary does life as a low-level corporate lawyer become worth living? I have no idea, but informed guesses go in the comments.