Average Salary of a Lawyer

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Average Salary of a Lawyer

Being a lawyer is an extremely challenging profession. Nonetheless, the rewards are equally high, both in terms of salary and job satisfaction. This article discusses various facets of the earning potential of lawyers.

A career as a lawyer is one of the highly recognized careers in the US, and offers excellent opportunities. Lawyers are most decently paid professionals, and the earning potential in this field has no bounds. If you are at the zenith of success, then this field can be a harbinger of professional success and monetary rewards. However, this field has great competition, and demands years of consistent hard work and studies.

Starting Salary

If you are aware of the path to be a lawyer, then you must also be aware of the fact that this field has extremely tough competition. Training and on-the-job experience are very important to learn deeper aspects of this profession. Like every profession, salaries in the initial years are less. In the initial years, new lawyers assist senior lawyers. The starting salary with an experience of less than a year is between $50,000 to $70,000 annually.


The salary of a lawyer is dependent on the following factors:

  • Work Experience
  • Private/Public Practices
  • Type of Employer/Client
  • Specialization (Criminal/Corporate)
  • Educational Level
  • Working Location/City
  • Additional Benefits

Majorly, there are two specializations―criminal lawyers and corporate lawyers. Based on the professional expertise, the average salaries vary.

Corporate Lawyers

Corporate lawyers generally work for industries and business units. Since there are innumerable laws governing business tactics and industries, the need of corporate lawyers to ensure that all steps of big corporate firms are legal, is immense. The salary with a work experience of about 1 to 4 years is between $70,000 to $125,000. An established corporate lawyer, who has worked for about 10 to 19 years, can earn between $100,000 to $170,000. These salary ranges are certainly one of the highest in the US. Corporate lawyers working in private firms earn near about $160,000, and those working in the public sector (hospitals, etc.) make around $140,000.

Criminal Lawyers

Criminal lawyers work for individuals who have been charged with allegations. The salary depends on the client’s paying capacity and reputation of the lawyer. If there is a criminal lawyer who is established and some big client offers him to fight his case, then certainly the fee charged would be high. Criminal lawyers with work experience of 5 to 10 years can earn as high as $115,000 p.a., and those with excellent work experience of 20 years can make as high as $175,000 annually.

Becoming a lawyer, as we can see, opens the doors for huge earning potentials. However, if we look the 7 – 8 years of education and tireless practicing, these salaries definitely complement their efforts. Added to that, are challenges and competition in every case.

Disclaimer: Salaries are approximate, and will vary according to location, experience, and type of employment.

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