How much do lawyers make?

Lawyers have varied roles that require unique proficiencies, specialized knowledge and hours of hard work.

These roles include appearing in court, analyzing facts, making sense of the law, preparing legal documents and asserting the rights of their clients.

Such a variety of roles necessarily demands a lot from lawyers, who often have to endure long hours at work at the expense of their personal dealings and social life.

There is a rather pervasive notion that lawyers, along with doctors, constitute one of the highest-earning professional groups in the country.

While this assertion holds water, the fact is that the income range between and among lawyers themselves is somewhat fragmented, and is affected by a great measure by some factors.

The average pay for a lawyer

According to, the national mean annual salary for lawyers in the US is $88,361. That translates to roughly $42 pe hour.

These figures certainly stand out in comparison to other professions.

Note, however, that there are nuances between these numbers that deserve to take into consideration.

Experience, for instance, has a moderate effect on how much he is going to make in a year.

Considering that most people in this job do not have more than two decades’ experience.

In general, the salary is between $66,182 and $239,644, the bonus $0.00 – $24,556, the profit sharing $518 – $30,039, commission $0.00 – $40,907.

If you do the math, you will see that the pay that a defender gets for his work is between $47,846 and $176,291.

By and large, the national average has been affected by the confluence of many factors.

Chief among these is the fact that over the years, there has been a surge in the number of lawyers in the country.

Records show that there are about 1.3 million lawyers in total today. Of this number, more than a tenth, or almost 169,000 lawyers, practice their profession in New York.

Attorney tasks

  • Search and gather evidence to formulate defense or initiate legal actions, then evaluate findings and develop strategies and arguments for presentation of cases.
  • Analyze and interpret laws, rulings and regulations that can affect the outcome of a case.
  • Represent your clients in court or before government agencies, presenting and summarizing cases to judges and juries.
  • Advice clients for business transactions, claim liability, advisability of prosecuting or defending lawsuits or legal rights and obligations.
  • Question witnesses during a trial, argue motions, select jurors, meet with judges.

Skills that affect lawyer salaries

There is also a small difference in pay between lawyers working in different fields.

Lawyers specializing in corporate law and residing in the major business hubs, as well as public lawyers working for the federal government and various lobbying organizations, have been shown to take home a larger pay than their counterparts elsewhere.

What an attorney chooses to specialize in is also determinative of a number of wages he will get in return.

We all know that lawyers focusing on criminal law, family law, intellectual property, taxation, and torts have different salaries.

Add in the tenure or years of practice, and these, too, can have an impact on how much a lawyer gets to take home.

Lawyers that work in intellectual property, dealing with patent, copyright, and trademark law, IP law, have an average salary of $155,037 according to the American Bar Asociation.

Heath Care lawyers, that help hospital, insurance companies, medical technology and other clients have an average salary of $146,590.

Real estate attorneys, that handle property transactions, disputes, and a handful of other issues make, in average, $118,000.

Bankruptcy lawyers help their corporate or private clients reduce debt while filing for bankruptcy. That is why they make about $113,000 per year.

Corporate attorneys work with one employer to help with collections, patents, contracts and more, making $98,244 per year.

Criminal defense lawyers defend individuals and companies involved in criminal matters. They usually have nerves and liver of steel and make around $78,500 annually.

Personal injury attorneys represent people that are injured, physically or mentally, by another person or company, taking home a paycheck of around $73,000.

Family and divorce lawyers deal with adoption, child custody, marriage, conflicts, divorce, and more. They always have something to do taking into account the society in which we leave, but they make just $71,336 on average.

Attorneys that deal with civil rights work with constitutional disputes, LGBT and human rights, civil liberties, discrimination, and more, collecting $69,000 in the process.

Those that collaborate in immigration help with citizenship or those who have legal issues remaining or working in the U.S. and have an average salary of $62,250 per year.

Intellectual property, regulatory compliance, complex litigation case management, contract negotiation, leadership, legal compliance, insurance, negotiation, litigation case management, are skills that affect the lawyers paycheck in a positive way.

While client interaction, legal document review, research analysis, case management, technical writing and legal research have an adverse impact if not don correctly.

How experience determines an attorney salaries

If you are entry-level, you should expect about 19% less average and as time passes by you can expect and 17% above average in mid-career, a 44% when you become experienced and well known, and a 66% above average in your late-career.

Related job salaries

Associate attorneys, taking in consideration of about 5800 wages in the research, make between $55,000 and $93,000, while those that work in a law firm make $61,000 – $111,000 per year.

An associate general counsel has a bigger paycheck that ranges for $100,000 to $195,000.

General/Operations Manager makes around $41,000 – $85,000 per year; legal assistant has a more small salary that is in between $30,000 and $47,000 and a legal secretary makes roughly $34,000 – $60,000.

Paralegals make $34,000 – $53,000, a litigation paralegal $41,000 – $62,000, a paralegal asistant or a legal assistant $31,000 – $50,000 and a senior paralegal between $56,000 and $82,000.

Pay difference by location

San Francisco is in our top of the list going over the average with almost 47%, flowed up by:

  • Washington (45%)
  • Los Angeles (27%)
  • Seattle (25%)
  • Dallas (23%)
  • New York (22%)
  • San Diego (14%)
  • Denver (9%)
  • Atlanta (8%)
  • Houston (5%)
  • Philadelphia (5%)
  • Boston (4%)
  • Tampa (4%)

However, there are a few major cities where lawyers make under the national average:

  • Chicago (-2%)
  • Miami (-4%)


Taking all this into consideration the job satisfaction gets rated 4 out of 5, with standard health benefits such as dental, vision, medical, it is quite enjoying working as a lawyer and if that is your dream you should pursue it.


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