Lawyers make an average of $95,783 per year. They typically earn their salaries through hourly rates, contingency fees, or a retainer. A lawyer’s earning potential can vary based on factors like their geographic location, experience, and area of expertise.
For instance, a lawyer who specializes in health insurance cases may earn more than a lawyer who offers more general legal services. If you work at a law firm, your employer may provide benefits like paid time off and health insurance.
Average Legal Career Salaries for Law Duties
How much money a Lawyer make or earns depends on the career role in law they are specialized in. Here are the average salaries and primary duties of specific types of lawyers and other legal careers:
National Average Salary: $42,760 per year
Primary role: Mediators are trained to help the two parties involved in a dispute agreed. These unbiased third parties work with both parties to find common ground and resolve their issues.
National Average Salary: $56,768 per year
Primary Duties: A paralegal assists lawyers and law offices with administrative tasks. They draft closing documents for cases, perform research before trials and assist with depositions. Paralegals can also collect evidence to support cases, take statements from witnesses and maintain files for current and resolved cases.
National Average Salary: $59,077 per year
Primary Duties: A legal secretary provides clerical assistance in law offices to support lawyers and paralegals. They draft correspondence to clients and opposing parties, transcribe legal documents, monitor deadlines for filing documents, and schedule meetings with clients and other parties. Legal secretaries may also perform basic case research.
National Average Salary: $60,832 per year
Primary Duties: A law clerk assists judges in making legal decisions. They research legal matters and decisions for related cases and document legal proceedings. After completing their research, they present options to judges. Other duties include delivering subpoenas to witnesses, managing evidence, and maintaining the chamber’s library.
National Average Salary: $97,302 per year
Primary Duties: A litigation lawyer, or a trial lawyer, assists clients with civil lawsuits. They conduct investigations, oversee the discovery process, represent clients in court, and manage the settlement process. Litigation lawyers can represent either plaintiffs or defendants and assist with appeals when necessary.
Real Estate Lawyer
National Average Salary: $87,000 to $133,000 per year
Primary Duties: They help their clients with real estate transactions. When one company wants to buy another company outright, the owners must file the proper documents to take over any property that the seller owned. It can take months to create these documents and get both parties to sign the paperwork.
National Average Salary: $101,086 per year
Working as a trial lawyer is one of the highest-paid jobs in this field. Trial lawyers can work for the defense or the prosecution, and they can work on small or large cases. A large case might include a group of people suing a car manufacturer because of injuries they suffered due to a malfunction with the vehicle. Those who handle small cases might work with those accused of committing crimes. Trial lawyers must work with their clients to prepare them for the cases and handle settlement offers.
National Average Salary: $150,881 per year
These lawyers advise their clients on medical law and offer related services. When you think of medical lawyers, malpractice immediately springs to mind, but these lawyers also deal with other areas of healthcare law and personal injury.
National Average Salary: $140,972 per year
IP lawyers usually deal with patents that protect inventors’ rights and keep copycat competitors at bay during the period the patent is valid. The stringent patent application process can be challenging even for experienced IP lawyers, so competition for the best, most experienced IP lawyers is high.
National Average Salary: $96,659 per year
An attorney is a lawyer who has completed law school and has a license to represent clients in court. They can develop strategies to help clients determine cost-effective ways to manage legal issues. Other duties include preparing legally binding documents, researching cases, and defending clients before a judge or jury.
National Average Salary: $127,978 per year
A corporate lawyer counsels’ clients on business transactions as they relate to the law, including the sale of businesses, acquisitions, and mergers. This type of lawyer prepares a flurry of contracts and reads through offers to ensure that the legalese is in the best interest of their clients, which are usually corporations and businesses. They also help create new companies, source venture capital, and facilitate the selling and buying of ownership interests.
National Average Salary: $74,044 per year
An area of law that may be particularly fulfilling is immigration law. In this field, you analyze the complexity of immigration laws to assist those attempting to become citizens. As an immigration lawyer, responsibilities don’t just include interpreting immigration law, but preparing paperwork, gathering documentation, proposing strategies, and preparing testimony statements.
National Average Salary: $51,810 per year
If your loved one has been charged with a crime, a criminal lawyer is the type of lawyer you should turn to. A criminal lawyer will be knowledgeable in areas related to criminal law, including issues related to bail, arraignment, arrest, pleas, and any issues relating to the criminal trial itself.
National Average Salary: $91,152 per year
A judge advocate manages legal and justice issues that pertain to the military. These lawyers are commissioned officers who work for the United States Armed Forces. They provide specialized legal advice, prosecute alleged criminals and defend clients in court.
National Average Salary: $102,000 per year
Tax lawyers prepare legal documents and help devise tax-saving strategies. Of course, they need to keep abreast of changes in the ever-fluid tax arena and implement those changes in a timely fashion.
National Average Salary: $122,000 per year
In a nutshell, patent attorneys are tasked with assessing and analyzing whether an invention is eligible for a patent or not. They guide and advise individual private inventors as well as corporations that are in the process of securing a patent. After the patent is obtained, patent attorneys protect patents in case of infringement.
Intellectual Property Lawyers
National Average Salary: $129,000 per year
Intellectual property laws protect ideas such as patents, copyrights, trademarks, and other profitable concepts. This is a fast-growing area of law as technology continues to advance, and it’s also statistically among the most lucrative. The median pay was nearly $129,000 in 2023. Lawyers on the high end could earn as much as $252,000.
National Average Salary: $74,520 per year
A judge is a government official who presides over legal cases. They are usually appointed by the governor or other elected officials and serve until they step down, retire, or die. These legal professionals have the final say on how cases are decided.
Law School Professor
National Average Salary: $132,000 per year
Law school professors teach courses in law, perform research, and publish scholarly works in their fields of experience. Salaries vary by region and by the school.
National Average Salary: $121,125 per year
Whether you’re a company that is having a problem with an employee, or an individual who’s having problems with the company you work for, an employment lawyer can generally provide advice about legal issues which arise from an employment contract or within an employment relationship.
National Average Salary: $101,245 per year
Contract lawyers specialize in writing and reviewing contracts. They work with clients to ensure that the contract meets their needs, as well as all legal requirements. These legal professionals also enforce contracts when people don’t live up to their obligations.
Factors That Impact Lawyers’ Salary
Here are some of the factors that may affect the salary of lawyers
The Law School You Attend
The top United States law schools are hard to get into. If you can get into a top 25 school and want to maximize your earnings potential, opt for one of the top law schools.
Where You Practice
These factors are somewhat intertwined—for instance, big law jobs are in major cities—but there are also distinct differences between states and even cities.
Type Of Law You Specialize In
The type of law you practice will tremendously impact your salary. some types of lawyers make a lot more than others.
Number Of Years in Practice
With law schools increasing enrollment at a faster pace than employment, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to land a job as a lawyer, let alone one of the plum big law jobs. However, once you’ve landed a job, your pay increases at a healthy clip.
Bigger Firms Equal Bigger Paychecks
The size of your law firm will be one of your main salary determinants. So, if you’re looking to become one of the highest-paid lawyers, you may want to set your sights on a bigger law firm.
The highest-paid lawyers are those with a lot of responsibilities. They also require a lot of specialized knowledge. Lawyers in these positions usually have to stay up-to-date on trends in the legal industry. A lawyer who is well-versed in the law and has a deep understanding of how it applies to different situations will be able to offer clients the best possible counsel. This can help them win cases or prevent them from being sued.
If you want to get into the legal profession, you should prepare for the challenges of law school. Then go out into the world and practice your craft until you find your niche.
What Type of Lawyer Should I Be?
This depends on your area of interest and career goals. Think about what type of work you would enjoy doing daily, and the coursework that interests you most. Certain law degree specializations may pique your interest more than others. It’s also important to consider your strengths.
What Are the Best-Paying Cities for Lawyers?
The metropolitan areas that pay the highest salary in the lawyer profession are San Jose, San Francisco, Washington, New York, and Los Angeles.