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Which positions are in highest demand at the country’s law firms and corporate legal departments? While the legal industry, as a whole, has experienced some recent ups and downs, in certain specialty areas the competition for top talent is fierce.

The top 10 legal jobs by salary and demand for 2015.

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Staff Attorney Ups and Downs

According to a report from The National Association for Law Placement, the employment rate for recent law school graduates (0-9 months post graduation) reached an all-time high of 92% in 2007. Since the recession started in 2008, that employment rate has steadily declined to approximately 85%. This has led to a small faction of new law school graduates—especially those with substantial student loan debt—to question their career choice. However, there are numerous positive shifts to consider.

First, the class of 2013 was abnormally large relative to other recent classes. This skewed the percentages and drove the employment rate down, if only slightly. It also overshadowed the fact that, for two consecutive years (2012-2013), the number of jobs acquired by new graduates grew. Private practices and businesses accounted for nearly 70% of those jobs.

Second, median salaries for entry-level staff attorneys have gradually risen since 2011. Today, the overall median salary for new attorneys is nearly $70,000. The law firm median salary for new attorneys is nearly $100,000. This is a sign that the market is becoming more competitive—there is more demand for staff attorneys and a larger talent pool of new graduates.

Wide Salary Ranges

From staff attorneys to paralegals to risk managers, salaries are wide-ranging. Typically, higher salaries mean higher ranges. For instance, a general counsel’s average salary is $215,101, with a range of $128,626, whereas a loan processor’s average salary is $35,537, with a range of $17,671. There are several reasons why legal salaries have such expansive ranges, including geographic area, employer type, employer financial standing and candidate credentials.

While salary is perhaps the most important factor when hiring a new staff member, it is not the only factor. Corporate culture, job responsibilities and career advancement opportunities are other factors that legal organizations and candidates should always consider.

Go beyond the infographic; request our 2015 Legal Salary Guide.

For the most up-to-date job descriptions, salary ranges and market insights, request your free copy of our 2015 Salary Guide. It will quickly become your go-to resource for hiring and retaining top legal talent, and help you understand what premier legal professionals expect from law firms and legal departments.

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