Interested in a legal career with high income potential? Already have a legal career but are looking for ways to increase your income? If you want to know more about the typical lawyer salary or average incomes of other legal professionals, and how you might bump yourself up into a higher level, read on.
While statistics can show the average salaries across the United States or even by city, there are many factors that work together to determine a lawyer’s actual salary (the same components would also influence the salaries of other legal professionals). Some of these factors are:
- Location of practice – Geographical location has a large effect on lawyer salary. The larger, more cosmopolitan areas will usually have the higher-paying jobs.
- Number of years of work experience – As with most professions, a more experienced lawyer will earn a higher salary.
- Level of education – A lawyer with higher education can bill at a higher rate.
- Type of employer – Private practice pays more than government, and government pays more than non-profits.
- Size of the firm – Large firms usually pay more than medium or small-sized firms.
- Field of specialization – Corporate lawyers with wealthy clients will generally make a higher salary than lawyers who specialize in fields such as family law with clients of various levels of income.
Lawyers advise and represent individuals, businesses, and government agencies on legal issues and disputes. The majority of lawyers work in private and corporate legal offices. Some work for local, state, and federal governments. The majority work full time, and many work long hours.
Median annual salary: $114,300 as of May 2013
The best-paid lawyers earned more than $187,199, while the lowest-paid made less than $55,170. Lawyer salaries vary by city of residency. The highest earners worked in the larger metropolitan areas of California (San Jose, San Francisco, Los Angeles) and in New York City. Average lawyer salary in these regions were $195,530, $169,340, $164,620, and $165,690 respectively. Lawyers in smaller cities would generally have lower incomes.
Projected job growth, 2012-2022: 10% (about average growth)
Competition for jobs should continue to be strong because more students graduate from law school each year than there are jobs available.
Requirements: Juris Doctor degree, State law license
Family Law Attorneys
A subdivision of lawyers. Family lawyers may concentrate on divorce, domestic abuse or child support, among other possible fields.
Median annual salary: $70,828 as of September 2014)
Paralegals and legal assistants do a variety of tasks to support lawyers, including maintaining and organizing files, conducting legal research, and drafting documents.
Median annual salary: $51,170 as of 2013
Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience, and a variety of other factors.
Projected job growth, 2012-2022: 17% (faster than average growth), but competition is strong.
Most paralegals have an associate’s degree in paralegal studies or a bachelor’s degree in another field and a certificate in paralegal studies
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The author of this blog is not an attorney and the information contained in these blogs should not be considered legal advice. The information provided here is based on the experience of the author and some of her clients whose actual names are not mentioned. Do not hesitate to seek the advice of an attorney if you have any legal questions.