Partners at Washington law firms are earning 14 percent more this year compared with 2010, according to a law firm partner survey by legal consulting group Major, Lindsey & Africa and the research unit of ALM Media, which publishes The American Lawyer.
Average partner compensation in D.C. and Northern Virginia rose from $702,000 in 2010 to $798,000 in 2012, according to the survey of 74,000 law firm partners in more than 70 U.S. cities. D.C. ranks third behind Silicon Valley ($1.2 million) and New York ($1 million) in average partner pay.
Average compensation nationwide rose 6 percent, from $640,000 in 2010 to $681,000 in 2012.
Lawyers in the Washington metro region also bill more hours and charge higher rates than their counterparts in all but a few major metro markets in the U.S.
D.C. lawyers billed an average of 1,743 hours in 2012, up 3 percent from 1,700 hours in 2010. That’s the fifth-highest number of billable hours, after Los Angeles (1,801 hours), San Francisco (1,796 hours), Boston (1,781 hours) and Atlanta (1,777 hours).
Average billing rates for D.C. lawyers also rose — up 9 percent from $608 per hour in 2010 to $662 per hour in 2012. That’s the fourth-highest billing rate among cities, after New York ($760 per hour), Silicon Valley ($732 per hour) and Boston ($687 per hour).
The survey, which was conducted in the spring, also found that the pay gap between equity partners and non-equity partners is growing nationwide: $811,000 versus $336,000 in 2010 (a $475,000 difference), compared with $896,000 versus $335,000 in 2012 (a $561,000 difference).
The gap between compensation for male partners and female partners is also widening nationwide: $675,000 versus $513,000 in 2010 (a $162,000 difference), compared to $734,000 versus $497,000 in 2012 (a $237,000 difference).
“D.C. is right up there, it’s not the highest — it’s behind New York in compensation — but is one of the most prominent legal markets,” said Jeffrey Lowe, managing partner of Major, Lindsay & Africa in D.C.