How Much Do Attorneys Make

To become an Attorney you must have a law degree and must also typically pass a state’s written bar examination. To discover if this career is
for you, take one of our free quizzes.

An attorney, also called a lawyer, represents and advises his or her clients in both criminal and civil cases. Attorneys earned a median annual salary of $114,970 and median hourly wages of $55.27 in 2014 (US).

Attorney Salary

  • Average Annual Salary: $116,500
  • Expected Lifetime Earnings: $4,830,000

Attorney – Education

People interested in becoming lawyers must first receive a Bachelor’s Degree. Following undergraduate school, students must take and pass the Law School Admission Test as a prerequisite of enrolling in a law school. Once admitted, it usually takes three years to receive a Juris Doctorate (J.D.) degree. Not everybody is suited to become a lawyer. See if it is something for you and take a career fitness test to discover your best career tracks.

Law school allows students to begin their exploration into the legal world. A combination of classes, research projects, mock trials, internships and clinics that offer hands-on experience helps students determine in which area of law they are interested in practicing. Law school also introduces students to public speaking, writing legal documents and developing legal strategies, skills that all attorneys must learn, whether or not they practice in the courtroom. Attorneys who prefer not to speak in public have options to work privately in offices with their clients.

Attorney Career Opportunities

After graduating from law school and gaining experience in their area of practice, lawyers begin to consider different career advancements. For instance, some lawyers become a partner in a law firm while others decide to start their own law firm. There are those who leave a law firm to become a judge. Some lawyers pursue sports and entertainment law, becoming agents for professional athletes and entertainers.

A career in the field of law will afford opportunities that few other areas of employment can match. In the broadest perspective, lawyers have the ability to make a difference, not only in the course of people’s lives, but also in the course of a country’s history.

With the exception of medical science and possibly journalism, the field of law offers more specialized areas to work in than any other career. While the most commonly known practice is criminal law, the law school graduate has options of practicing in areas of civil law such as corporate, entertainment, intellectual property, labor, medical, insurance, and communications. Lawyers practicing in these areas are mostly in private practice. Some attorneys choose to work for public entities such as governments and nonprofit agencies.

Lawyers who prefer the courtroom are found in local, state, and federal courts arguing motions, filing lawsuits, trying cases before a jury, and advocating for their clients.

Attorney Job Description

If there’s one career that has withstood the test of time, it’s the field of law. Lawyers are indispensable to the American justice system. In fact, lawyers are needed at some point in most people’s lives. Whether a person is going through a divorce, bankruptcy, criminal proceeding, probate matter, or seeking redress for a wrong done to them, lawyers are the ones called on to help.

Lawyers can be found working privately for big firms, they may run their own small practices, and often they will be employed by governmental agencies. Lawyers may be working in the public sector as public defenders or district attorneys, and there are quite a few lawyers working for the U.S. federal government.

Many lawyers are employed in or working for the private sector. Many lawyers are looking for jobs at big corporations, and they generally will specialize in a specific direction such as corporate tax law, environmental law, data privacy, or divorce. Though the profession of lawyer may involve many hours in courthouses, this doesn’t always need to be the case.

Many lawyers will spend many hours on meticulous research, and they will analyze earlier cases. They often can be found drawing up legal documents, or studying testimonies from witnesses. The work of a lawyer work is very often grueling, and it generally requires long hours at the office. Lawyers should always be there for their clients who will contact their attorneys for their legal issues. Their clients rely heavily on their lawyer’s discretion and their solid knowledge of the law.

Career Outlook

The LBS (The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) expects the professional sector to grow by some ten percent, resulting in some 75,000 new jobs, in the coming decade, and this is a little slower than all-over growth rate expected for all sectors. Most lawyers will still be employed by law firms, but we can see the trend that increasingly more corporations are hiring their own lawyers in order to cut costs.

Lawyers’ Earnings

The American Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicated that in 2014, the average salary of lawyers was around $116,500. Top lawyers made a median income of nearly $189,000, and the lowest-paid lawyers made less than $56,500. The highest-paid lawyers are found in the metropolitan regions of New York City, D.C., and San Jose and San Francisco.

Top Law Schools

1. Yale University

2. Harvard University

3. Stanford University

4. Columbia University

5. University of Chicago

6. New York University

7. University of Michigan- Ann Arbor

8. University of Pennsylvania

9. UC Berkeley

10. University of Virginia

11. Duke University

12. Northwestern University