The Philadelphia Law Department recently announced an across-the-board pay increase for its 217 attorneys, with starting salaries jumping nearly $10,000, from little more than $50,000 up to $60,000. The changes are expected to result in raises for nearly all Law Department attorneys.
In a memo released to the office June 22, City Solicitor Marcel Pratt, who heads the department, said salaries for the Law Department have been stagnant for many years, noting that the starting salary has remained at $50,867 since 2012.
“Despite the lucrative salaries that you could earn in the private sector, you continue to dedicate your skills and talents to providing the highest quality legal representation to the city and its employees,” he said in the memo. “I hope our new salary plan provides some recognition of your outstanding legal representation of the city and reaffirms your commitment to public service.”
The Law Department was the second city agency last week to announce plans to boost salaries of its employees.
The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office also announced a new compensation system that includes raises for roughly 230 lawyers and increases the starting salary from about $51,000 to about $60,000. A spokesman for that office told The Legal the changes were made because the office felt the compensation system did not take into account experience, both inside and outside the office, and, in some instances, did not equally compensate women and attorneys of color.
Those increases put Philadelphia within range of its prosecutorial counterparts in New York City. According to the New York Law Journal, starting salary for Brooklyn prosecutors is $60,000, while first-year prosecutors in Manhattan make $62,500 and Bronx prosecutors make $63,000.
Along with boosting the starting salary to $60,000, the salary increases at the Law Department include raising the first-tier deputy city solicitor salary to $70,000, the first-tier division deputy and senior attorney salary to $90,00, and increasing the first-tier chief deputy city solicitor salary to $110,000, according to the memo. The chair’s salary was increased to $140,000, the memo said. The $150,000 salary for the first deputy city solicitor and the $175,000 salary for the city solicitor will remain unchanged, the memo said.
In an emailed statement, Pratt noted that the diverse practice, from torts and commercial litigation to transactional tax and regulatory, is a significant perk for Law Department attorneys, and he said he hopes the raises will complement those benefits.
“The salary increases will hopefully complement the perks that the Law Department already offers: work-life balance and opportunities to work on high-profile cases, transactions, and other matters of public importance that receive significant media attention,” he said. “Our attorneys have responsibilities and experiences that would take years to gain at large law firms, like handling jury trials in federal and state court or being the lead lawyer on a large, complex transaction for the city.”