Bill Henderson has a really interesting chart up at Empirical Legal Studies: Distribution of 2006 Starting Salaries: Best Graphic Chart of the Year which shows a very bimodal distribution of starting lawyer saleries. As he says,
The sample includes—in order of size—private practice (55.8%), business (14.2%), government (10.6%), judicial clerks (9.6%), public interest (5.4%), and other (2.8%). Half of the graduates make less than the $62,000 per year median—but remarkably, there is no clustering there. Over a quarter (27.5%) make between $40k-$55k per year, and another quarter (27.8%) have an annual salary of $100K plus.
If the chart were a flipbook of the last twenty years, the first mode would be relatively stationary, barely tracking inflation, while the second mode would be moving quickly to the right—i.e., the salary wars. In fact, because of the recent jump to $160K in the major markets, the second mode has already moved even more to the right.
Lots of other interesting comments there too.