The news that newly qualified lawyers in the U.S. are to receive starting salaries of $200,000 (with some firms now offering $205,000) plus bonuses has caused excitement in the legal community. It may be the inevitable impact of free market forces but it does raise a range of issues that the sector needs to consider.

First, the market forces. 2020 was a record year in revenue and profitability terms for many leading U.S. firms. Profit per partner rose to $3m, $4m, $5m and more with some partners receiving multiples of these average figures. Revenue per lawyer is significantly in excess of $1m.

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