Some surprising news for Washington lawyers who have been watching with envy as Manhattan salaries surge: A Harvard Law School study of seven Northeastern law schools found little difference between the median incomes of lawyers who work for large firms in the two cities.
Lawyers four years out of law school working in large New York firms (85 lawyers or more) reported a median income of $56,000, compared with $50,000 for their D.C. counterparts, the study found. The gap was even narrower for those 26 years out of law school: $330,000 for New York lawyers compared with $321,000 in D.C.
Those findings were based on responses from 3,424 law graduates in the classes of 1959, 1969, 1974 and 1981 at Boston College, Boston University, Columbia, the University of Connecticut, Harvard University, Northeastern University and Suffolk University.
The study, conducted by the HLS Program on the Legal Profession, also found that:
Fewer than one-fourth of the members of the 1959, 1969 and 1974 classes were still working in the first jobs they took after law school, and half of the members of the class of 1981 had already switched jobs.
The lawyers worked a median of 50 hours weekly, and more than two weekend days a month.
Fifty-eight percent were in private practice. The remainder worked in the public sector (18 percent), business (18 percent), education (4 percent), and miscellaneous other jobs (2 percent).
Their median income was $78,000, with a median of $100,000 for those 26 years out of law school and $40,000 for those four years out. Large-firm lawyers earned an average of $200,000, compared with $87,000 for lawyers in small firms and $60,000 for solo practitioners.
"The respondents having the largest annual earned income were not in private practice, however," the report said in a footnote. "The few respondents reporting an annual earned income of $1-3 million were in investment banking."
On the subject of Harvard graduates: Judge Antonin Scalia is the first in his law school class nominated for the Supreme Court, but his peers have by no means been slouches. Among the serious young men pictured alongside Scalia in a photograph of Harvard Law Review members in the classes of 1960 and 1961 are 8th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Richard S. Arnold, University of Chicago law professor David P. Currie, Harvard professors Frank Michelman and Philip B. Heymann, New York City Corporation Counsel F.A.O. Schwarz Jr., and such prominent local lawyers as Nathan Lewin of Miller, Cassidy, Larroca & Lewin; Daniel K. Mayers and Timothy B. Dyk of Wilmer Cutler & Pickering; John Vanderstar of Covington & Burling; Peter B. Edelman of Foley & Lardner, and Sidney S. Rosdeitcher of Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison. The class of 1960 included Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes (D-Md.) and Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis.
In his writings, Scalia has at times been far from kind in his assessment of his colleagues-to-be. A sampler of Scalia on the Supreme Court:
On affirmative action and equal protection: "I frankly find this area an embarrassment to teach. Here, as in some other fields of constitutional law, it is increasingly difficult to pretend to one's students that the decisions of the Supreme Court are tied together by threads of logic and analysis -- as opposed to what seems to be the fact that the decisions of each of the justices on the court are tied together by threads of social preference and predisposition."
On church and state: "It is, in fact, impossible to say with any assurance that tuition tax credit legislation would be struck down by the present Supreme Court. It is equally impossible to say with any assurance it would not be struck down . . . . The fact is that Supreme Court jurisprudence concerning the Establishment Clause in general, and the application of that clause to governmental assistance for religiously affiliated education in particular, is in a state of utter chaos and unpredictable change . . . .
"I envision Supreme Court rulings on what aid may be given to parochial schools not as engraved upon tablets of stone but as scribbled on one of those funny pads that children use, with a plastic sheet on top that can be pulled up to erase everything and start anew."
On a Supreme Court case holding that a public interest group had standing to challenge an Interstate Commerce Commission decision on railroad freight rates: The members of the group "claimed that they would be hurt since the 2.5 percent freight increase would increase the cost of recyclable goods; thus more beer bottles and other nonrecyclable goods would be found lying about in the national parks, which they used. Can one seriously find an appreciable personal interest at stake there -- as opposed to the general interest, shared by the whole society, which can be adequately protected by the democratic political process? It boggles the mind. But the court said they had adequate standing to present their case.
" Chief Justice John Marshall would have turned over in his grave."
And here's one Scalia would love: A U.S. District Court judge in Portland, Maine, has ruled that a high school student may not be suspended for "giving the finger" to a teacher in a restaurant parking lot.
"The First Amendment protection of freedom of expression may not be made a casualty of the effort to force-feed good manners to the ruffians among us," Judge Gene Carter wrote in finding that the student's obscene gesture constituted a form of expression shielded by the Constitution.