Your Guide to Starting Salaries for 2O2O (2)

Find out more about key responsibilities for legal  positions in the Glossary of Legal Job Descriptions.

∙ Your Guide to Starting Salaries for 2O2O ∙ Legal Hiring Trends in the United States ∙ In-Demand Practice Areas 

∙ How to Use Our Salary Tables ∙ Legal Salaries: United States 

∙ Adjusting Salaries for 

∙ U.S. Cities 

∙ Legal Hiring Trends in Canada ∙ Legal Salaries: Canada 

∙ Adjusting Salaries for Canadian Cities ∙ Trends in Benefits, Perks and Incentives ∙ Tools for Hiring Top Talent 

∙ A Labor Model for the Digital Age ∙ How to Prepare for the Future of Work ∙ About Robert Half Legal 

∙ Location


In a job market where skilled candidates can virtually write their own ticket, law firm and  corporate legal department leaders need to be familiar with emerging hiring trends and what other organizations are paying for top talent. The 2020 Robert Half Legal Salary  Guide gives your insight into both. 

Salary forecasts are based on the job placements we make every day as a professional  staffing firm. Our ground-level knowledge of labor market conditions across North America means we often know first where salaries in the legal field are headed. That gives you a leg up as you plan hiring budgets in the coming year. 

Robert Half has been reporting on compensation trends since 1950, and during that time  millions of employers have relied on our annual guides. 

For personalized assistance, contact our staffing and recruiting experts online or at 1.855.407.3096.


The nation’s low unemployment rate, while good news for job seekers, presents a challenge for law firms and corporate legal departments that need to hire. Reflecting the competition for talent, many candidates are getting multiple offers. Being aware of key employment trends can help hiring  managers navigate this environment. 

Salaries rising for top talent 

Excellent compensation remains the biggest priority for most legal professionals, our research  shows. To boost recruitment and retention success, employers need to benchmark and adjust  salaries regularly. Highly skilled lawyers and legal support staff know their worth and are asking for  — and often receiving — salaries above industry averages. 

Perks and benefits no longer just extras 

Employers in the legal field are also offering more generous benefits, bonuses and perks, but not in  one-size-fits-all packages. What might appeal to entry-level candidates may be different from what mid- to senior-level employee’s desire. 

Recognizing that legal professionals devote long hours to their jobs, some firms are offering extra  vacation days and generous parental leave to help improve work-life balance. But these aren’t just nice-to-have perks: Many candidates tell us they now expect flexible schedules, telecommuting options or other accommodations. 

Most people who have been seeking a new legal job have already  

found one by now, making the pool of talent even tighter in 2020. 

— Robert Half Legal recruiter in Boston

Speedy hiring process a must 

How can law firms and corporate legal departments gain an edge over the competition in a candidate-driven market? 

One way is by acting quickly — extending formal offers to top talent before other employers can recruit them. This is especially important today, when few job seekers have patience for slow hiring processes. 

Time to hire 

Lawyers were asked, ”On average, how many weeks  does it take to hire for an open legal position?” 

5 WEEKS for a staff-level position 

6 WEEKS for a management-level position 

Source: Robert Half Legal survey of more than 200 lawyers at  

law firms and companies in the United States

Hiring hot across the board 

Corporate culture key in hiring A reputation for a toxic work 

environment can quickly turn off job candidates once they hear of it. It can also seriously affect an organization’s  recruiting efforts. 

Legal professionals are drawn to a workplace culture that is in sync with their values and work style. Organizations that highlight what makes their corporate culture appealing are likely to attract  skilled legal professionals. 

Law firms of all sizes and specialty areas are hiring. In particular, small and midsize law firms have increased their efforts to recruit new associates. Full-time positions being added include lawyers,  legal secretaries and paralegals. 

Corporate legal departments are expanding to support new business activity and address complex  data privacy laws such as the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation and the  California Consumer Privacy Act. Hiring managers are 

Seeking professionals with compliance, contract management and commercial law expertise. 

Several law firms have started to build  

practice groups around the growing volume  

of class-action litigation in the federal  


Robert Half Legal recruiter in St. Louis 

Specialized lawyers in demand 

Competition remains tough when recruiting attorneys with specialized litigation experience. Other  hot practice areas include general business and commercial law, real estate, trusts and estates,  compliance, data privacy and information law. Among industry sectors, our recruiters report  particularly strong demand for associates with technology, financial services and energy experience. 

As more businesses enlarge their footprint around the country, their in-house legal departments are  seeing an uptick in hiring as well. One reason for this expansion of traditionally lean legal teams has  been a rise in activity related to mergers and acquisitions, our recruiters tell us. 

Although employers seek talent at all levels, midlevel attorneys with three to six-plus years’  experience are especially valued. Law school graduates are also seeing more job opportunities and  higher compensation as a broader range of employers look to hire newly minted attorneys. 

87% of lawyers said it is challenging for  

their firm or company to find skilled legal  

professionals today. 

Source: Robert Half Legal survey of more than 

200 lawyers at law firms and companies in the 

United States 



50% of lawyers surveyed said their law firmor company plans to increase its outsourcing  of legal matters to attorneys on a project  or contract basis. 

The top legal matters to be outsourced are:* Litigation support 

Legal research 

Document review 


* Multiple responses were permitted. 

Source: Robert Half Legal survey of more than 200 lawyers at  law firms and companies in the United States 

Tech-savvy support staff have job  market edge 

Law firms and corporate employers prefer  legal support staff to have a bachelor’s degree as well as specific certifications. Paralegals  and legal assistants must manage complex tasks such as analyzing electronically stored information that has been collected and coded for eDiscovery requests. Recent  regulations are also driving the hiring of legal  support staff experienced in U.S. Securities  and Exchange Commission filings and data  privacy compliance. 

Legal secretaries with three to seven-plus years’ experience are sought by both law firms and legal departments. Organizations  also want staff who can manage a variety of  duties, such as assisting with case research,  drafting legal documents and maintaining  schedules for multiple attorneys. 

The rise of workflow automation, artificial intelligence and other technologies is creating  greater demand for legal professionals who  can exploit the benefits of these new tools  and shift their focus to more strategic  endeavors. At the same time, job  

responsibilities are changing for existing staff,  so learning new skills is a necessity for many paralegals, legal assistants and other support professionals. Already, legal support staff are frequently the first people tapped to handle  tech issues. They’re often proficient in Microsoft Office, e-filing, billing systems, litigation software such as Relativity, and legal management systems such

As CompuLaw and ProLaw. Their tech experience will become even more critical as organizations further pursue digital transformation. 

Flexible staffing a good solution for shifting priorities Law firms and legal departments are turning to legal staffing  firms for temporary, project and full-time professionals to  augment existing staff. This approach not only helps them meet seasonal workload demands and changing priorities but  also gives them access to hard-to-find skills for projects that  don’t require a full-time employee. 

Many organizations are bringing in experienced legal  consultants to meet caseload demands or address special  matters such as litigation support and compliance. In addition,  engaging specialists on an interim basis is an effective strategy for managers who want to evaluate these professionals for  potential full-time positions.


Legal professionals with experience in the following high- growth practice areas are seeing competitive salaries and multiple job offers. 


Rising caseloads continue to drive job growth in litigation. Legal professionals with experience in insurance defense, commercial litigation, employment, securities, corporate governance and intellectual property have an edge in 

The job market. 

Business/commercial law 

Corporate legal departments that are insourcing matters once assigned to outside law firms are  hiring more employees to handle the heavier workload. This work includes contract administration,  compliance, business transactions, mergers and acquisitions, property issues, shareholder rights and  product development 

Where the legal jobs are 

Lawyers were asked, “Which one of the following  

practice areas will offerthe greatest number ofjob  

opportunities at your law firm or company in the  

next two years?”* 


General business/commercial law 

Privacy, data security and information law 

* Top three responses are shown. 

Source: Robert Half Legal survey of more than 200 lawyers at  

law firms and companies in the United States

Privacy, data security and information law 

As cybersecurity issues proliferate, law firms and companies are seeking legal professionals with  data privacy experience. 

Subject matter experts are also being hired to help safeguard confidential data; support cross-border data transfer; and establish policies, procedures and training programs to minimize risk to the  organization. Many of these new hires are data privacy specialists with a legal background. 

Real estate 

Lease administrators and title closers are needed to support commercial and residential real estate transactions. Companies require commercial real estate expertise as they expand geographically  through new leases and construction. 


Federal, state and local regulations related to data security, lease accounting, human resources and  anti-money laundering are growing in complexity. To minimize risk and remain compliant in an ever shifting regulatory landscape, companies are seeking experienced compliance managers and analysts


To help you determine salary levels for new hires, we report starting pay ranges in percentiles, as defined on this page. The salary figures are national ranges; you can adjust the figures on the  following pages to your market using the local variances on Pages 15-16 for the United States and Page 22 for Canada. Bonuses, benefits and other forms of compensation are not built into the  starting salary ranges. Compensation is affected by many factors, including labor market demand for  the position and individual negotiation during the hiring process. For more guidance on starting  salaries, contact your local Robert Half Legal staffing professional. 

To help set starting pay, determine where your candidate best fits in the four percentiles below. 


The candidate may be new to  the role and still developing  relevant skills. 

The role may be at a smaller  organization or one with few  business units. 


The candidate may have an average level of experience plus  the majority ofrelevant skills. 

The role may be at a midsize  organization or one with many  business units or moderately  complex operations. 


The candidate may have more  experience than is typical and  most or all relevant skills. 

The role may be at a larger  organization or one with multiple  business units or complex  operations. 


The candidate may have a high  level of relevant experience and  expertise. 

The role may be uniquely  complex or the candidate may  bring a specialized set of hard to-find skills. 

The role may be at a larger  organization or one with  multiple business units or  complex operations.








When hiring, a salary range that’s customized by job title and location is priceless. Find  out what you need to pay for top talent in your city. 



The salary ranges in our guide are backed by Robert Half Legal data, the expertise of our local  staffing managers, and independent research and Robert Half surveys of senior executives across North America. To customize compensation for your area, increase or decrease the national salary reported on previous pages by the percentage for your city. Market variances are reflective of all industries and professions. 

Calculate starting salaries for specific  

roles with the Salary Calculator.


Competition among law firms and legal departments in Canada for top-performing professionals is  intense, and great candidates are not available for long. 

Hiring demands vary by province and city, but many employers also face retention concerns as legal  specialists pursue opportunities with better pay, potential for professional development and a less stressful work environment. 

Legal specialists in strong demand 

Law firms that want to expand profitable practice groups are looking for lawyers with two-plus  years’ experience in real estate, litigation, corporate law and financial services. Within corporations, legal departments also are adding specialized lawyers to their teams; those with litigation, securities, and mergers and acquisitions experience are in high demand. 

With governmental bodies needing greater oversight of crypto currency businesses, new opportunities are opening for tech-focused law firms and legal specialists who can navigate  this complex niche. 

Time to hire 

Lawyers were asked,”On average, how many weeks  

does it take to hire for an open legal position?” 

5 WEEKS for a staff-level position 

5 WEEKS for a management-level position 

Source: Robert Half Legal survey of more than 150 lawyers at  

law firms and companies in Canada

Tech-savvy law clerks and legal assistants sought 

Firms are looking for law clerks and legal assistants with proficiency in Microsoft Office, case  management, database systems and trial preparation software. In corporate legal departments, the  most sought-after job applicants are 

Well-versed in legislation such as the Canada Business Corporations Act, provincial Partnership Acts  and Ontario Corporations Information Act. 

Many law firms are seeking legal support professionals with three-plus years’ experience and a  university degree. Job candidates who are bilingual in English and French have a competitive edge,  and demand is growing for legal professionals who are fluent in Cantonese, Mandarin or Punjabi. 

The top priority for job seekers is to find an employer  

that offers more coaching and training to expand  

their skills. 

— Robert Half Legal recruiter in Toronto 

93%of lawyers said it is challenging for their law firm or company to find  skilled legal professionals today. 

Source: Robert Half Legal survey of more than 150 lawyers at law firms and  companies in Canada



All salaries listed on Pages 19-21 are in Canadian dollars






Calculate starting salaries for specific roles with the Salary Calculator 

The salary ranges in our guide are backed by Robert Half Legal data, the expertise of our local staffing managers, and independent research and Robert Half surveys of senior executives across  North America. To customize compensation for your area, increase or decrease the national salary  reported on previous pages by the percentage for your city. Market variances are reflective of all  industries and professions.



The percentage of companies that offer each benefit:  

Health insurance 

Paid time off** 

Dental insurance 

Retirement savings plan 

Vision insurance 



Companies are offering a range of benefits that extend beyond traditional health insurance. Here is a summary of other types of benefits and how costs are allocated 

Physical Wellness (e.g., gym 


Mental Wellness  (e.g., stress  


Financial Wellness  (e.g., retirement  planning) 

Companies where costs 40% 50% 38% Companies where costs 12% 10% 14% Companies where costs 11% 14% 13% 

Companies that do not 

offerthese benefits 37% 27% 35%



The percentage of companies that each 



 Flexible work schedules or 

 telecommuting options 


 Paid parental leave 


 Employee discounts 

 (e.g., auto, home, electronics) 


Company-subsidized meals or snacks 


Paid time off for volunteer activities 


Matching gifts program for 

employee donations/fundraising 

CHANGES TO INCENTIVE OFFERINGS* The percentage of companies that plan to make the following changes to their incentive offerings in 2020: 

Increase the average dollar amount 

Increase the frequency (e.g., from annual to quarterly) 

Add new incentives 

Decrease the frequency (e.g., from quarterly to annual) 

Decrease the average dollar amount 

Remove incentives 

No change

What are incentives? 

• Motivational rewards 

• Tied to job performance 

• Examples: Spot awards, profit-sharing, bonuses,stock 

of companies plan to offer incentives to staff-level employees in 2O2O. Source: Robert Half surveys of more than 1,000 HR managers and more than 2,000


Robert Half’s research on hiring and workplace trends offers additional insight into today’s employment environment. To find out more, download the reports. 

Jobs and AI Anxiety 

Our exclusive research and expertinsights answerquestions aboutthefutureofwork. 

• Whatjobswill advanced technology create or take away? 

• What skills will you be hiring for in the future? How soon will you have to think seriously about that? • Will adoption of new technologies boost or hinder employee retention? 

The Demand for Skilled Talent 

Take a look into the most recent employment market trends, based on government data and Robert Half’s surveys of employers across North America. 

• How competitive is hiring rightnow? 

• What are the mostin-demand positions? 

• How do you secure your choice of job candidates and retain your best workers? 

Organizational Culture: The Make- or-Break Factor in Hiring and Retention Your corporate culture can greatly affect your ability to recruit and keep top talent. 

• What aspects of company culture are candidates most drawn to? 

• How can you create a positive buzz about your workplace? 

• Whatinterview questions will help youidentify candidatesmostlikely to excel in your work environment?


In 2020, law firms and corporate legal departments needing to manage complex projects, such as litigation support, compliance, data privacy, legal research and contracts, often will lack the internal  expertise and the time to go it alone. Worse, many of these key projects can materialize suddenly, forcing managers to proceed without the advance planning and resource buildup they would have preferred. 

In response, law firms and companies are embracing a new labor model based on a flexible mix of talent. To augment their full-time employees, hiring manager’s contract with one or more Outside organizations for additional resources for the duration of a project. These include a scalable mix of interim legal professionals along with consulting expertise that offers a strategic plan, project  oversight and targeted technologies. In some cases, the law firm or corporate legal department asks an outside resource to help them in fully managing a project. 

The use of interim employees and flexible staffing by itself is, of course, nothing new in the legal field. Supplementing core teams with temporary staff to provide coverage and specialized expertise is increasingly common as a cost-effective way for firms to access talent for jobs that don’t require a full time employee. But large-scale projects, especially those that are digital in nature such as eDiscovery, can overwhelm an organization’s internal resources both from an implementation and a project management perspective. The new labor model gives law firms and companies access to the talent needed to pursue these initiatives

HOW TO PREPARE FOR THE FUTURE OF WORK As technology continues to transform the workplace, jobs will change, opportunities will be created and employers will set their sights on new, highly prized skill sets. Tomorrow’s ideal employee will be comfortable working with new technology, at least at the most functional level, and possess polished interpersonal abilities. 

Our research suggests the competition for these attributes in the hiring market will be tough. Of the  employers surveyed across North America, 80% in the United States and 88% in Canada said it will be challenging to find professionals skilled in the new technologies their organization plans to implement.  Add to that the soft skills these employers say their staff will need in the workplace of the future — qualities ranging from leadership and strategic thinking to intellectual curiosity and emotional  intelligence — and the talent pool shrinks even further. 

Businesses that prepare now will be much better positioned to thrive in this new world of work. Here are our suggestions for 2020. 

∙ Invest in your workers. Upskilling is an investment in your future. When a workforce doesn’t  evolve along with technological advancements, morale declines and talented people go elsewhere for better opportunities 

— and career survival. 

∙ Look at training differently. Helping employees make the digital leap requires learning opportunities that go deeper, occur more frequently and are more 

targeted than current programs. 

∙ Point out the level playing field. Despite what some may think, few people today have a complete grasp of emerging tech. Help your team understand that if they set their mind to it, no one will be left behind. 

∙ Upskill yourself. You don’t have to be a technology guru, but as a team leader you will  need a solid grounding in the technologies your company adopts

Communicate change. Disruption makes a workforce uneasy. Give staff a sense of where the company is going and what will be needed to help you get there 

Evaluate soft skills. In the future workplace, interpersonal skills will top your must-have list when hiring. Interview for emotional intelligence and workplace culture fit as carefully as you do for hard skills. 

Find out more about the future of work by  

downloading the Jobs and AI Anxiety report.


Robert Half Legal specializes in placing highly skilled legal professionals on a project, temporary and full time basis with law firms and companies. We offer a full suite of legal staffing and consulting solutions to address your particular needs. 

Our temporary professionals can help see you through peak workloads and seasonal projects. We can  provide full-time consultants with our Salaried Professional Service for long-term and recurring projects that require more continuity. And for more complex matters, our Legal Consulting Solutions practice  offers targeted services, technical resources and, for highly sensitive projects, dedicated project space  and clean room facilities. Complex matters we focus on include litigation, contract management, legal  compliance, managed data, information governance, data privacy, and mergers and acquisitions. Robert Half Legal’s personalized service and AI-based matching technology distinguishes us from other  legal staffing firms. 

With North American and international locations, Robert Half Legal is part of the Robert Half family,  which offers specialized staffing services in technology, accounting and finance, marketing and creative,  and administration.


You don’t need just any candidate. You need someone who matches the unique requirements of your  legal job and corporate culture. Let Robert Half Legal help you find the right fit. 





California Los 

Angeles Oakland Orange County  San Diego 

San Francisco San  





Hartford  Stamford District of  Columbia 

Washington Florida 








Massachusetts Boston 






St. Louis 

New Jersey  

Princeton Saddle  Brook Woodbridge New York 

New York 

North Carolina Charlotte Raleigh Ohio  






Pennsylvania Philadelphia Tennessee Nashville 


Austin Dallas  Houston 

Washington Seattle 







United Kingdom Birmingham 



Find an office near you online or call 1.855.750.7260 for personalized assistance in  locating talent that fits your unique hiring needs.

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