First, read CM's post on salary negotiation- she has a great lesson for us all- especially for women.
Ok, so I had a hard time getting accurate information on the web regarding typical first year associate pay in my area. It just varies so much by firm size and type it's impossible to pin point. From what I've seen, big firms pay first years around $75-80 for the first year, while associates in small general practice firms can earn $40-50 per year. My firm is hard to profile. It's on the smaller side with 15-20 attorneys, counting the attorneys located in a second office in another state. BUT it's a litigation firm, specializing in some tricky areas of law, and our clients are mostly large insurance companies. So we don't exactly fit in one or the other and I don't know where my expectations should lie.
However, I did talk to some associates at my office today about their own experiences. In my previous post, the overwhelming recommendation seemed to be to negotiate. But the associates at my firm were less encouraging. One attorney whose opinion I highly value, told me that she tried to negotiate her salary and the partners wouldn't budge on their offer. She is highly experienced and even owned her own firm at one point. Another associate I talked to seemed rather shocked that I would consider negotiating. I was pretty put off by his response. The overall feeling from talking to other associates at the firm is that the firm is not very flexible in salary. BUT the firm has made it clear to me that they will happily allow me to work from home some days each week and even let me go part time should I desire (they made it clear this is not something they offer to every first year associate but that I have earned this privilege by working there for these past two summers).
The economy right now is pretty horrible and I feel luck to have this job offer and opportunity. I think it would be very, very hard to get another job right now. And considering the state of the economy, I think their offer is fair- as long as there are opportunities for promotions. So maybe I will play the gracious student who has eaten one too many frozen pizzas and be happy with any offer, for now. But I have taken all your advice to heart and I will keep it in mind a little farther in my career when I can point to my many accomplishments (hopefully).
I think it's ridiculous that men make more simply because they are more willing to ask for it. I will definately take that peice of information with me and I will be sure to always ask for what I think I deserve!