Apparently Kane County wasn’t paying assistant state’s attorneys enough to keep them around until recently:
“This is a significant (economic) downturn historically, but at the same time we have to be aware the failure to pay a competitive wage will lead to our talented and experienced assistant state’s attorneys going to other counties. I want the best and brightest to work here in Kane County. That has a direct impact on public safety,” [Kane County State’s Attorney Joe] McMahon said.
It does seem that Kane County was out of sync with the rest of western Chciagoland:
McMahon said the current starting salary for a Kane County assistant state’s attorney is $40,000.
He is proposing to raise that to $53,000.
In surrounding counties, McMahon said, starting salaries are $51,600 in McHenry; $54,100 in DuPage; $53,700 in Lake; and $51,600 in Will.
Brian may have some additional insights on this, but it strikes me that most of this previous disparity in salaries could be explained by different costs of living in each county. Still, if Kane wasn’t able to keep experienced prosecutors around, these proposed salary increases might be money well spent.
As I’ve mentioned before (including yesterday), everybody seems to be beating up the legal job market these days. The American Bar Association apparently decided that it was time to inject some actual numbers into the discussion:
[Most prior discussion has] been based in great part on the tools of journalism: anecdote, instinct and the oft-competing wisdom of any experts we can find.
With this issue, however, the ABA Journal is offering our readers a new—and we believe different—view of the business and the profession.
We’ve teamed up with a nationally recognized expert on trends in the legal profession, William D. Henderson of the Center on the Global Legal Profession at Indiana University’s Maurer School of Law. We asked Henderson, a pioneer in the empirical study of the legal industry, to identify and map the movements of jobs and money.
There’s a separate page that allows county-by-county data searching.
Here’s the thing: based on my look at the publicly available U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, underlying the ABA’s “report”, I’m not quite sure what the ABA has added to the discussion here. Sure, they’ve generated some colorful graphs and county-by-county maps. But as far as I can tell, all (and I do mean all) of this data has been around since at least May 14, 2010. And it’s not like the ABA has done much analysis here; they’ve basically just sorted the size of salaries out by metro region and announced a few “surprises”.
Even more problematically, I’m not sure there are many clear takeaways due to the inherent shortcomings of this data. Per the bottom of the article’s main page:
The [U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics] data are a representative sample of employed lawyers. The sample includes lawyers employed in law firms, state and local government, federal government, in-house lawyers in businesses, and nonprofits. Lawyers, as defined by the BLS classification (SOC), “represent clients in criminal and civil litigation and other legal proceedings, draw up legal documents, and manage or advise clients on legal transactions. May specialize in a single area or may practice broadly in many areas of law.” Equity partners and solo practitioners are not included in the survey. [emphasis added]
In other words:
- This data leaves out solo practitioners — fully 35% of all lawyers according to Harvard Law School’s research. Analysis: these salary numbers skew high. (I suppose the lack of focus on solos isn’t too surprising since only about 7% of all solos belong to the ABA anyway.)
- This data only applies to employed lawyers. Analysis: This article tells us nothing about the marginal earning prospects of unemployed lawyers, including recently graduated J.D.’s who are “temporarily” employed in other industries (e.g., as servers in restaurants).
I get that this is “the first installment of a periodic series.” But come on, ABA. It’s more than a little disingenuous to claim that “the ABA Journal is offering our readers a new—and we believe different—view of the business and the profession” by “identify[ing] and map[ing] the movements of jobs and money” when you’re simply re-publishing eight month old government data with an arguably misleading slant and without substantive analysis.
There is some discussion these days about the high salaries of modern athletes: are they worth it? Do these salaries demonstrate that society thinks these people are more or most valuable compared to others?
According to a new study, these high salaries are not just a feature of the modern era: a Roman charioteer is considered to be the highest paid athlete of all-time:
According to Peter Struck, associate professor of classical studies at the University of Pennsylvania, an illiterate charioteer named Gaius Appuleius Diocles earned “the staggering sum” of 35,863,120 sesterces (ancient Roman coins) in prize money…
Although other racers surpassed him in the total number of victories — a driver called Pompeius Musclosus collected 3,599 winnings — Diocles became the richest of all, as he run and won at big money events. For example, he is recorded to have made 1,450,000 sesterces in just 29 victories.
Struck calculated that Diocles’ s total earnings of 35,863,120 sesterces were enough to provide grain for the entire population of Rome for one year, or to fund the Roman Army at its height for more than two months.
“By today’s standards that last figure, assuming the apt comparison is what it takes to pay the wages of the American armed forces for the same period, would cash out to about $15 billion,” wrote Struck.
It sounds like Roman society was quite willing to make stars out of its athletes/competitors. I would be curious to know: what it is about societies that causes them to confer celebrity status and vast sums of money on people who compete (and win) in games or events?