Lexis Advance

  • Legal research made faster and easier. Easily get more relevant results from leading legal industry sources delivered efficiently through cutting-edge online technology.

    Access the Lexis Advance® Support site to make the most of your Lexis Advance subscription.

Lexis® for Microsoft® Office

  • The comprehensive research and drafting tool right within the programs you use every day.

LexisNexis® Digital Library

  • Open the doors to your law library 24/7 with mobile access to primary law, deskbooks, code books, treatises and more.

Zimmerman's Research Guide



Statistics on compensation are compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and posted on the BLS Web site.

State compensation laws are compiled in Aspen Publishers' State by State Guide to Human Resources Law.

Links to Web sites posting strategies for negotiating compensation are available on Jobstar.

Estimated Salary Increases: Each year several sources produce national salary surveys used to estimate pay raises for the following year. These include: the Salary Increase Budget Survey by WorldatWork; the annual salary survey by the Conference Board; the Compensation Planning Survey by Mercer; and the U.S. Salary Increase Survey by Hewitt Associates. Summaries of these surveys are generally written up in the national business press, and some data is generally posted on the organization Web sites.

To find salary projections for a particular state, city or region, search online articles from the local business press and/or call local business papers. For example, in Cleveland, Crain's Cleveland Business reports the salary increases predicted by a local employer's group called ERC.

Salaries for Specific Jobs: The Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Handbook provides somewhat official average compensation figures for a wide range of jobs. Links to other salary surveys on the Web are posted by JobStar. More detailed but much more expensive surveys are compiled by human resources consulting firms, such as Mercer and Towers Watson.

The Society for Human Resources (SHRM) compiles lists of salary surveys in various industries that are available to SRHM members on the SHRM website.

Here's where to find compensation information for some specific jobs:

Accountants: The Robert Half Salary Center has a Salary Guide and a local financial salary calculator, both free.

College Graduates: The National Association of Colleges and Employers posts the results of its quarterly salary survey of recent college graduates.

Corporate Directors and Executives: The compensation of directors and top executive officers of public companies is listed in the company's Proxy Statement (Def 14A). If there won't be a proxy within 120 days of the end of the company's fiscal year, then the compensation information will be listed in the 10-K. (To get Proxies, see the Filings section of the Securities and Exchange Commission entry). Additional information may be provided in registration statements.

Forbes posts rankings of Top CEO compensation at the 500 largest U.S. companies back to 1997.

The AFL-CIO's PayWatch database makes it easy to look up the total compensation paid to CEOs of public companies as figured by the SEC and the ALF-CIO.

The Conference Board publishes reports on Director's Compensation, Top Executive Compensation, Top Executive Pay for Performance, etc.

See also "Nonprofit Organizations," below.

Educators: See "Teachers, Professors, Administrators," below.

Lawyers - Corporate Counsel: There are a number of pricey compensation surveys for lawyers practicing in law firms including:

  1. The The Law Department Compensation Benchmarking Survey from ALM Legal Intelligence.
  2. The GC Compensation Survey, which also provides benchmarking data on in-house lawyer compensation.
  3. Corporate Counsel's GC Compensation Survey listing the 100 highest paid general counsels at major corporations.
  4. Empsight and the Association of Corporate Counsel publish annual Law Department Compensation Surveys for small, mid-market and large companies covering

If you are just trying to answer a reference question, you can try these less expensive alternatives:

  1. Search a database with legal news to find an article reporting information from one of established surveys.
  2. Salaries for top counsel at public corporations may be included in one of the company's SEC filings.
  3. Salaries for attorneys working at non-profit institutions may be listed on the institution's Form 990 tax return.

Lawyers - Private Practice: Good sources on salary data for lawyers practicing in law firms include:

  1. The Associate Salary Survey by the National Association for Law Placement (NALP). The NALP Survey provides data by location, employer size, type of employer, etc. NALP posts information about the survey and other compensation-related data in the Salaries & Compensation section of their web site.
  2. The NALP Directory of Legal Employers provides compensation information for summer and first year associates.
  3. FindLaw's Firm Salary page posts associate salary information collected by Infirmation.com from a variety of sources, including recruiters, hiring partners, associates, public sources, and press releases.
  4. Legal newspapers often report on attorney salaries for their state, city or region. Search an appropriate database to find the articles.
  5. Placement firm Robert Half Legal posts a free Salary Guide and Salary Calculator in their online Salary Center.
  6. The Survey of Law Firm Economics (ALM Legal Intelligence) includes lawyer and staff compensation. The survey covers about 200 firms with 21 lawyers and up. $$$
  7. The Small Law Firm Economic Survey (ALM Legal Intelligence) covers firms with 1 to 20 lawyers. $$
  8. The annual Of Counsel 700 Survey of the Nation's Largest Law Firms (Wolters Kluwer/Aspen Publishers) includes salary ranges for some firms.
  9. The American Lawyer's Am Law 100 and 200 lists includes law firm profits per partner.
  10. Altman Weil publishes a variety of articles and surveys on law firm compensation.
  11. The biennial AIPLA Report of the Economic Survey provides compensation data for IP lawyers and patent agents.

Legal Staff: Following are some notable sources for compensation data for law firm staff.

  1. The Association of Legal Administrators' annual Compensation and Benefits Survey contains information on salaries and benefits for staff positions in law firms.
  2. The Survey of Law Firm Economics and the Small Law Firm Economic Survey, both by ALM Legal Intelligence, contain lawyer and staff compensation data.
  3. The LMA Roles & Compensation Survey (ALM) covers large law firm marketting staff.
  4. The American Association of Law Libraries does an annual Salary Survey available free online to members.
  5. The Annual Compensation Survey for Paralegals/Legal Assistants and Managers published by ALM and the International Paralegal Management Association (IPMA) provides data on paralegal compensation in both law firms and law departments.
  6. Paralegal Today does an annual survey of paralegal compensation.

Nonprofit Organizations: You can look up the compensation for a particular nonprofit's top executives in the organization's Form 990, if it files one. See the Nonprofit Organizations entry for info on 990s.

For statistical data, see Charity Navigator's CEO Compensation Study broken down by region and charitable mission (education, environment, health, etc.) or the annual GuideStar Nonprofit Compensation Report.

See also the "Teachers, Professors, Administrators" section, below.

Teachers, Professors, Administrators: The American Federation of Teachers posts salary survey results for U.S. cities, states and foreign countries. Caveat: The AFT site is not an unbiased source of information.

The Chronicle of Higher Education posts compensation figures for college and university professors based on a faculty salary survey conducted by its parent organization, the American Academy of University Professors. The Chronicle also posts databases with salary data for Private and Public college and university presidents (low-cost subscription required). You can find the results from older surveys in back issue's of the Chronicle and/or the AAUP's magazine, Academe.

Union Officials: The compensation of top union officials is reported to the Department of Labor on Form LM-2. Contact the Department of Labor to get a copies.

See Also
Bureau of Labor Statistics
Cost of Living
Employee Benefits
Human Resources
Labor Statistics

For comments, questions and suggestions, email the author
Copyright 2015 Andrew Zimmerman