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Whoa, Cowboy—Texas Firm Now Pays $185K for First-Year Associates

Vivia Chen

October 21, 2012

Larry_Hagman_as_JRNow, y'all know I have a bit of a complicated relationship with Texas. I grew up in Houston, but spent most of my time there plotting my escape. Though I felt miscast as a Texan and still break out in hives at the thought of living there again, I know folks who wouldn't dream of living anywhere else. Plus, Texas is loaded with career opportunities.

So if you're trying to figure out where to pursue your legal career, I guess you should check the state out. Anyway, here's the latest:

It's always bigger in Texas. Litigation boutique Bickel & Brewer is paying first- years a whopping $185,000—and that's not even including bonus! The Dallas firm might be small (43 lawyers), but it sure knows how to make a lot of noise and get attention.

Founding partner William Brewer told Texas Lawyer Blog: “The goal here is always to be ahead of the curve.” Brewer added that despite the lousy economy, the firm is going like gangbusters: “We’re blessed.”

Is it the searing heat that makes Texas lawyers so deliriously happy? I don't quite get it, but partners in Texas are among the most satisfied in the country. "Texas seems to be the place to be, as only 8 percent and 9 percent of partners in Houston and Dallas, respectively, classified themselves as either not at all satisfied or not very satisfied," reports Major, Lindsey & Africa's 2012 partner compensation survey.

Cheer by Dmitry Lobanov_FotoliaGod is on the cheerleader squad (at least in Texas). If you're either an evangelical Christian or a devout atheist, may I suggest that you hitch your legal career to Texas? That's because the Lone Star State will keep lawyers on both sides very busy. 

The latest case involves cheerleaders in the tiny town of Kountze, Texas, who are fighting the local school district for the right to display biblical verses on banners during football games. The case is so hot that Texas Governor Rick Perry and Attorney General Greg Abbott intervened, defending the cheerleaders on First Amendment grounds. (Governor Perry said, "If you think about it, the Kountze cheerleaders simply wanted to call a little attention to their faith and to their Lord.") Recently, a state district court judge granted a temporary injunction to the cheerleaders, which means God and football can once again work in harmony.

Of course, the case isn't over. The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation is on the other side and vows to fight on. The Anti-Defamation League has also thrown in its support.

My bet: There will be more cases like this in Texas. You could probably develop a subspecialty focused on cheerleaders and religion in Texas.

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Do you have topics you'd like to discuss or tips to share? Email The Careerist's chief blogger, Vivia Chen, at VChen@alm.com.



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It's funny, but in the mid 80's when Bickel & Brewer was new, they made headlines by being the first firm in the nation to break the $175,000 barrier by offering 1st-years $183,000. Now here we are, a little over 25 years later, and they have made the news again by increasing their starting salary to a whole $2000 more than it was back then.

The worms crawl in, the worms crawl out....

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The Careerist takes an inside look at how lawyers shape their careers and manage their lives. The blog aims to dissect developments in the profession, provide useful information and advice, and give lawyers a platform to voice their views. The goal is to provide a fresh, provocative take on the state of lawyering.

About Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen, The Careerist's chief blogger, has been covering the business and culture of law firms for a decade. A former corporate lawyer, Chen is fascinated by those who thrive (as well as those who don't) in the legal profession. Her take: Success in the law (and life) doesn't always travel a linear path. If you have topics you'd like to discuss or information to share, contact her: VChen@alm.com

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