Thanks to everyone who posted in this thread. Just to be clear, it is my intention to work in the USA, not Canada. This thread was created to get some perspective on my prospects should the worst case scenario occur (not being to find work in the USA, and having to return to Canada).
I'm not sure how you come up with this, if we're assuming "Big Law" to be Bay Street... The salaries at the top firms > government pay. The starting salaries can have a $30-40,000 gap (which is 30-50%), and that gap is maintained throughout. A partner at a Bay Street firm can expect to pull in a very strong six figure income (lets say, high 100s, low 200s, as a reasonable average benchmark). That's not even close to matched by government, where the equivalent pay band tops out around $140,000. Again, you're looking at a 30-50%+ difference.
There are all sorts of reasons to not work on Bay Street, but pay is not one of them. A 15% cut to salaries isn't going to close the gap meaningfully (again, on compensation alone).
My recollection was that you were incorrect (too high), although it appears you were incorrect (too low). This is a by-product of the circumstances. Anyway, Treasury Board has this information: https://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/agreements-conventions/view-visualiser-eng.aspx?id=13
Step 1 is now $80,000 outside of Toronto for an LP-01. Its the same for Toronto.
One thing about the Federal Government though, is because its a unionized position, you see percentage increases every year + the incremental increases. This is part of the reason why public sector wages are growing while private sector wages tend to be more stagnant.