How Much Do Lawyers Make?

Lawer job descriptionIn the legal field, lawyers are the most prominent faces. Lawyers have doctoral degrees, or a professional law degree, with which, they are responsible for informing clients on the practice of law whether the client be a business, government organization, or an individual.

Clients may be handling legal problems or disputes and need to be counseled for recommended legal action.

Their job is to listen to a client’s legal concern and recommend the best legal action, can guide the client through the process, and even represent them in a trial or court case, as they will often spend most of their time.

Do you see yourself working in this field? If so, have a look at our guide here.

Lawyer Salary

The answer to the question “how much do lawyers make?” can vary. The average lawyer salary is in the United States.

How Much do lawyers makeThe lowest earners make approximately $58,220, and the highest earners upwards of $208,000.

The lawyer starting salary is largely based upon the type of law being practiced.

They start making $58,000 up to $70,000 depending upon many different factors, which is greatly determined by the industry of law. 

The salaries are influenced by other factors as well, including education, experience, location, and employer. When considering a career in law, it is important to consider how each of these factors can affect your earning potential.

Prospective lawyers should keep this in mind when determining how to have the greatest earning potential.

Top 5 Paying States

FlagStateEmployment per 1000 JobsHourly mean wageAnnual mean wage
California FlagCalifornia4.67$76.06$158,200
New York FlagNew York 8.08$74.20$154,340
Delaware flagDelaware 6.79$70.16$145,940
Massachusetts FlagMassachusetts 5.17$69.24$144,030
Texas FlagTexas

Top Paying Industries

IndustryPercent of industry employmentHourly mean wageAnnual mean wage
Machinery Manufacturing 0.04$100.83$209,730
Metalworking Manufacturing $97.35$202,480
Semiconductor Manufacturing 0.11$96.90$201,560
Securities and Commodity Contracts Brokerage 0.41$96.49$200,700
Information Services 0.49$95.98$199,640

What Does a Lawyer Do?

What does a lawyer doLawyers have an advanced knowledge and understanding of the practice of law, and use this to help clients with their legal issues. Thy may represent their clients in a trial, or in a court case.

When representing in a trial, they will also present facts and research relevant information for their client’s benefit. They must give support to their clients, and will argue with other legal professionals for the benefit of a client’s case.

They are expected to actively communicate with clients, while also researching, analyzing, and interpreting for the benefit of the client’s legal situation. While working with clients, lawyers must also process and file paperwork and important documents, although, they may have a paralegal assist in the clerical work.

The daily duties of a lawyer depend on the industry, or specialty of law.

Types of Lawyers and Specialties

  • Taxation
  • Environmental
  • Criminal law
  • Legal aid/Civil rights
  • Litigation
  • Securities/Investments
  • Prosecutors
  • Family law
  • Intellectual property
  • Defense
  • Government counsel
  • Corporate counsel

The individual duties for each of these specialties and titles may vary greatly. For example, a government counsel lawyer may spend their time writing laws and analyzing options to implement legal proceedings, while a family lawyer may spend their days listening to personal legal disputes, and representing clients throughout a divorce.

They can work in a variety of environments, including finance and insurance establishments, state, local, and federal governments, and legal service providers, such as a law firm. Nearly 25%  are self-employed, and may practice law out of their homes. They  typically spend time in a courtroom as well.

This is not a business hours career, as lawyers of all specialties work long hours not only working with clients, but also researching, analyzing, and preparing for the following day, or upcoming trials. Being in this field can translate to large amounts of stress due to pressure from clients and trials, and even exhaustion due to a heavy workload.

Job Outlook

Types of lawyersThe projection for employment throughout the next ten years is positive. It is expected to maintain a 8% increase in-between 2016 to 2026.

Although, it is anticipated that legal fees may need to be reduced due to current client interests, and consequently, could potentially result in lower salaries to legal professionals.

They will always be a necessity for local, federal, and state governments, so these specialties are considered secure. The need is greatly dependent upon the current state of the economy, and the amount of disposable incomes that clients may have.

It is expected that the legal industry will continue to be competitive, so having the finest credentials, such as education and experience, is very important to thrive in this industry. An aspiring lawyer with an impressive education, in a thriving area should expect to do extremely well in the United States.

Overall, the future of legal professionals in the United States is positive, and shows continued growth.

Lawyer Salary by State

FlagStateEmployment per 1000 JobsHourly mean wageAnnual mean wage
Alabama FlagAlabama2.756$54.33$113,010
Alaska FlagAlaska3.347$56.69$117,910
Arizona FlagArizona3.895$56.43$117,380
Arkansas FlagArkansas3.16$48.41$100,690
California FlagCalifornia4.669$76.06$158,200
Colorado flagColorado5.055$62.80$130,620
Connecticut FlagConnecticut4.602$67.32$140,040
Delaware flagDelaware6.791$70.16$145,940
Florida FlagFlorida5.68$58.66$122,020
Georgia FlagGeorgia3.739$63.72$132,540
Hawaii FlagHawaii2.934$50.68$105,410
Idaho FlagIdaho3.404$48.51$100,900
Illinois FlagIllinois5.17$59.94$124,680
Indiana FlagIndiana2.501$49.53$103,010
Iowa FlagIowa2.161$51.00$106,080
Kansas FlagKansas2.842$47.53$98,850
Kentucky FlagKentucky2.814$44.27$92,090
Louisiana FlagLouisiana3.757$54.73$113,830
Maine FlagMaine3.269$48.42$100,720
Maryland FlagMaryland4.368$60.61$126,060
Massachusetts FlagMassachusetts5.17$69.24$144,030
Michigan FlagMichigan3.635$56.11$116,710
Minnesota FlagMinnesota3.831$61.68$128,290
Mississippi FlagMississippi2.654$47.82$99,470
Missouri FlagMissouri3.663$58.42$121,500
Montana FlagMontana4.119$36.40$75,720
Nebraska FlagNebraska3.132$45.11$93,820
Nevada FlagNevada4.222$59.54$123,850
New Hampshire FlagNew Hampshire2.623$53.39$111,050
New Jersey FlagNew Jersey4.966$67.68$140,770
New Mexico FlagNew Mexico3.696$46.41$96,520
New York FlagNew York8.075$74.20$154,340
North Carolina FlagNorth Carolina3.072$56.88$118,310
North Dakota FlagNorth Dakota
Ohio FlagOhio3.051$54.42$113,200
Oklahoma FlagOklahoma4.48$54.09$112,520
Oregon FlagOregon3.853$55.23$114,870
Pennsylvania FlagPennsylvania4.375$62.24$129,460
Rhode Island FlagRhode Island3.616$57.22$119,010
South Carolina FlagSouth Carolina2.878$54.69$113,760
South Dakota FlagSouth Dakota1.886$47.29$98,360
Tennessee FlagTennessee2.598$54.61$113,580
Texas FlagTexas3.588$67.91$141,240
Utah FlagUtah3.678$57.17$118,910
Vermont FlagVermont3.56$48.85$101,620
Virginia FlagVirginia4.684$63.14$131,320
Washington FlagWashington3.688$58.05$120,740
West Virginia FlagWest Virginia3.752$45.20$94,010
Wisconsin FlagWisconsin2.763$49.03$101,980
Wyomin FlagWyoming3.171$49.66$103,290

Top Paying Metropolitan Areas

San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA is the top paying metro area with an annual wage of $195.530 and an hourly wage of $94.01

AreaEmployment per 1000 jobsHourly mean wageAnnual mean wage
San Jose / Sunnyvale / Santa Clara – CA5.19$96.75$201,240
San Francisco / San Mateo /Redwood City, – CA – Metropolitan Division9.45$82.65$171,910
Los Angeles / Long Beach / Glendale, – CA – Metropolitan Division6.00$82.27$171,130
New York / White Plains / Wayne, – NY / NJ – Metropolitan Division 10.29$80.56$167,560
Bridgeport / Stamford / Norwalk, – CT5.17$79.54$165,440

Top Paying non-Metropolitan Areas

$146.360 is the hightes annual wage of non metropolitan areas with No.1 being Northern Mountains Region of California nonmetropolitan area 

AreaEmployment per 1000 jobsHourly mean wageAnnual mean wage
Northern Mountains – Region of California – nonmetropolitan area1.54$69.18$143,880
Northeastern – North Carolina – nonmetropolitan area2.18$62.94$130,920
Sussex County – Delaware – nonmetropolitan area 1.88$59.47$123,690
Central Washington – nonmetropolitan area 0.92$59.44$123,630
Northwest Mississippi – nonmetropolitan area2.02$59.20$123,140

Lawyer Career Information Video

Noel Griffith, Ph.D.
Noel Griffith is a Doctor of Philosophy with a strong interest in educational research. He has been an editor-in-chief of since 2014. Noel is an avid reader (non-fiction), enjoys good food, live theatre, and helping others make wiser career decisions.

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