Thursday, June 12, 2008

Judicial salaries

I saw this comment on the Times Union Capitol Confidential blog: "Students graduating from law school this year (who have not even passed the bar exam) are making more then these judges who have worked hard through out their career to be voted or appointed to these positions."

Yes, a few law graduates get jobs at $160K/year. It's also true that once or twice a year a high school kid goes to the NBA and makes millions. Bill Gates made billions after he dropped out of college. But in reality there are plenty of young lawyers making far less than $50K. Few lawyers in Albany make more than $100K, and the vast majority of us work very long hours for our money.

Most of our local judges are very good, and I have no problem with them getting a raise. In my personal opinion they should get a raise. But people shouldn't pretend that $150K/year (with excellent benefits) is inadequate. There's no shortage of people who want those jobs. Even Family Court, which is the most unpleasant and demanding court, always finds people who want to be the judge.

This is true in NYC as well. While $150K doesn't buy nearly as much there as here, there are still plenty of people who manage to live on less there, including lawyers. And there's no shortage of applicants for that job.

Our City Court judges get paid a lot less even though it's more work than most of the other courts, and with one exception in an outlying county, every single City Court judge I know is outstanding.

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