2010 Fortune’s 25 Top Paying Companies

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Fat Stack of BenjaminsEvery year, Forbes puts out it’s full list of the Top 100 companies to work for and every year I look for the two employers I’ve ever had… only really expecting to see one of them (and fairness, there aren’t any major defense contractors on the list). This year, my last company, Booz Allen Hamilton, retained the 52nd spot on the list despite going through some huge organizational changes. I have nothing but good things to say about the organization and the people I had the pleasure of working with while I was there.

But, enough about why *I* look at the list, let’s see which companies stack up where it matters most – pay.

2010 Top Ten Paying Companies

Here are the top ten paying companies of 2010:

  1. Baker Donelson (Law firm) – $319,779
  2. (CRM software) – $249,607
  3. Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe (Law firm) – $245,206
  4. Bingham McCutchen (Law firm) – $233,800
  5. Devon Energy (Energy company) – $187,819
  6. Alston & Bird (Law firm) – $185,938
  7. Perkins Coie (Law firm) – $183,376
  8. EOG Resources (Energy company) – $171,943
  9. Arnold & Porter (Law firm) – $171,074
  10. Brocade Communications Systems (technology company) – $170,175 (“devices that connect servers with storage centers”)

Of the top ten, six were law firms, two were software companies, and two were energy companies.

Want to see something eerie? Take a look at Fortune’s list from last year. Eight of the names from 2009 were reshuffled and retained their top ten status. Last year’s #9, Adobe Systems, slipped off the top ten and was listed as 11th this year. Lehigh Valley Hospital and Health Network (#2 in 2009) was nowhere to be found and Brocade Communication Systems moved into the 10th spot in 2010. That makes for some pretty good consistency at the top…

The lesson here is that you should become a lawyer! 🙂 I’m kidding, being a lawyer is tough work and if supply and demand still work in this country, it’s an indication that the supply of lawyers isn’t meeting the demand for them. There’s a reason for that – it’s difficult work (either challenging, grueling, or just cruel) or everyone would be able to do it.

Either way… law, technology, or energy firms were your best bet last year and continue to be strong this year. I’m willing to bet that they will continue to be strong next year, unless supplanted by an even hotter industry.

(Photo: chicanerii)

{ 21 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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21 Responses to “2010 Fortune’s 25 Top Paying Companies”

  1. freeby50 says:

    “being a lawyer is tough work and if supply and demand still work in this country, it’s an indication that the supply of lawyers isn’t meeting the demand for them.”

    That may be the first time I’ve heard anyone say that we need MORE lawyers. 😉

    There are over 750k lawyers in the country.
    Seriously though there are more lawyers than we need and they are in oversupply as a whole: says: “Competition for job openings should continue to be keen because of the large number of students graduating from law school each year.”

    The reasons those lawyers at those top firms get paid so much is that they are the elite in a field that pays a premium for the best. The very best lawyers can get very high pay since their services are deemed worth it. Theres a direct tie between performance and financial return, the highest paid lawyers can win court causes for millions of $. Its like high paid salesmen, the very best salesmen make ridiculous gobs of money.

    Median pay for lawyers nation wide is about $110k which is good but much less than the pay for top lawyers. And its not extremely high considering you have to go to extra school for the law degree.

  2. Couple of comments:

    1.) The data selection for this survey is hokey. Associates at law firms hold that “rank” for 8 years or more, so the average salary will skew up (same counts for engineers at energy cos), while the “ranks” they chose for other firms (e.g. Booz, Google etc) are much more narrowly defined and more entry-level, skewing down. That said, the salary at a top law firm is quite nice. No idea why they picked a relatively senior rank for the top 1 & 2 contenders.

    2.) *** “I’m kidding, being a lawyer is tough work and if supply and demand still work in this country, it’s an indication that the supply of lawyers isn’t meeting the demand for them. There’s a reason for that – it’s difficult work (either challenging, grueling, or just cruel) or everyone would be able to do it.” *** Actually this isn’t quite right. The demand by the so-called big firms for TOP, SUPER-STAR lawyers out-paces demand, although less so this year – they are actually lowering salaries in many firms and reducing new hire counts. There are ARMIES of “average” young lawyers out there who either don’t have a real job or are making a salary WAY below what the big firms are paying – think a $60k salary after paying $150k or more for law school – ouch! Going to law school in the current market is a money losing proposition unless you are a rock-star and can score (and keep up) a job at a big firm.

  3. lostAnnfound says:

    I think healthcare will be moving up the list. The expanding field of geriatrics due to aging Boomers and generations that come afterward will outweigh the supply of people who are educated in this category.

  4. saladdin says:

    I personally know lawyers who have stopped practicing law and moved to other jobs. When I asked them why the answer has not been money but ” I hate practicing law.” I know it’s only a couple of people but that’s a hard lesson to learn after paying for law school. One guy says it’s like “having a second house payment.” And his wife is one who quit practicing law because she loaths it.


  5. bb says:

    Doctors make clean money. Lawyers make dirty money. No?

    • freeby50 says:

      For every lawyer supposedly making ‘dirty’ money there is going to be another lawyer on the other side arguing against them. Equal numbers of lawyers would be on the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ side.

    • Curio says:

      Not all doctors make clean money…

  6. eric says:

    I picked the wrong major. 😛

  7. BW says:

    it’s actually a really tough market for Lawyers right now…I know from personal experience, despite having ‘rockstar’ status.

  8. It’s great to see tech companies faring well in the list.

  9. Evan says:

    What no one tells you at law school (or at least no one told me lol) is that those salaries and the other ones that people highlight…

    is that is usually held for the top 10% in a tier 2, 3 or 4 school and the top 25% in a tier 1 school…

    After that there is a HUGE gap down. It is actually kind of weird.

    • Chris says:

      The cost of the Juris Doctorate may not be worthwhile depending on where you go to school, the field of law you want to work in, and the size of the company you wish to work for.

  10. Lawyer or not, that’s alot of money!

  11. Boozer says:

    You’re a former Boozer? Cool!

    – Current Boozer

  12. Glenn Lasher says:

    I’m not so sure I would class Brocade as a software company. My company uses their *hardware*. Certainly some amount of software engineering is involved, but what they sell primarily is a physical product, not a virtual one, as far as I can tell.

  13. jsbrendog says:

    must. get. job. at one of these tech companies.

  14. Soccer9040 says:

    Nice money! I need to get a job at one of these places.

  15. Crystal says:

    I just got into NCCU School of law, and I am having a hard time deciding if I should go. My concerns are, I’m already 25 years old and still live at home. I do have $40k saved, but that could be a nice down payment on a house. I would be paying out of state tuition, $22k plus books and living expenses. I would be leaving a job I don’t like, but probably would not be working while in school ( at least the first year). I don’t want to practice in NC so I would have to transfer back up to the Philadelphia area… (Probably to Widener Law) which is 30k a year but I would live at home. I would probably go for a JD/MBA, so I would be looking at $120k expense, but I have a $20k scholarship + the 40k saved so I would only be 60K in debt. However, I know the job market is tough for attorney’s rights now, I don’t know how it will be in 4 years, but I read that the US is opening more law schools than any other country and thus increasing the already saturated market of JD grads. The bar I believe is regulated by lawyers, so they can continue to increase the difficulty of the bar, so fewer attorneys will pass. (One attorney told me that she passed 5 different state bars over 20 years ago and she would be hesitant if she was graduating now to take the bar) I’m not clear what one could do with a JD, besides practicing law and if they do not pass the bar are they able to still make a decent salary? Any sound advice would be great! Also, I just got into La Salle University’s MBA program, my goal if I intended there would be to transfer to Temple’s Business school’s (Fox) program. I also just got an interview doing financial recruiting in NYC for s/three. However, I probably won’t do this, because if I don’t attend law school my goal would be to work as a management consultant. (Sorry it’s so long).

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