Home Jobs & Education How Much Do Lawyers Make?

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lawyersLawyers advise and represent individuals, corporations, businesses, or government agencies through legal disputes and issues.

Also referred to as attorneys, lawyers typically carry the responsibility of representing clients in courts, conducting analysis/research of legal matters, interpreting laws, presenting facts effectively in writing or orally, and preparing legal documents, such as contracts, deeds, or lawsuits. Lawyers act as advocates and advisors to one of the parties involved in criminal or civil trials in argument of their case.

Salary
How much does a lawyer make? According to the May 2012 record from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual lawyer salary is $130,880, which is equivalent to a mean $62.93 hourly wage. While the bottom ten percent earns $54,310, the top ten percent earn an average of $168,010.

The salary of a lawyer heavily depends on his or her industry of employment. For instance, those employed in state government earn an average of $82,750, but those employed in the federal executive branch make $130,710 annually. The top-paying industries for lawyers are physician offices at an astounding $241,870, petroleum manufacturing at $207,370, and security/commodity exchanges $181,980.

Furthermore, certain states have higher average salaries for lawyers in comparison to others. The top-paying state is the District of Columbia at an average annual salary of $165,590. Not far behind, California lawyers earn $153,480 and lawyers in Delaware make $152,580, which are both well above the nation average.

State Hourly Wage Average Salary Number of Jobs
Alabama $53.65 $111,600 5,460
Alaska $58.12 $120,890 1,140
Arizona $58.65 $122,000 9,060
Arkansas $44.04 $91,610 3,410
California $73.79 $153,480 67,190
Colorado $63.40 $131,870 11,830
Connecticut $68.95 $143,410 7,800
Delaware $73.36 $152,580 2,820
Florida $58.11 $120,870 40,870
Georgia $66.15 $137,580 14,960
Hawaii $54.68 $113,730 1,810
Idaho $48.37 $100,610 2,080
Illinois $66.88 $139,110 28,220
Indiana $48.67 $101,230 7,650
Iowa $49.90 $103,780 3,330
Kansas $49.92 $103,840 3,740
Kentucky $43.05 $89,540 5,300
Louisiana $53.93 $112,180 7,360
Maine $48.26 $100,380 1,640
Maryland $57.66 $119,930 11,200
Massachusetts $64.50 $134,150 17,460
Michigan $55.73 $115,930 14,190
Minnesota $60.26 $125,340 10,330
Mississippi $46.66 $97,060 2,780
Missouri $54.46 $113,280 9,600
Montana $35.64 $74,130 1,730
Nebraska $47.09 $97,940 2,800
Nevada $58.92 $122,560 4,680
New Hampshire $51.24 $106,590 1,810
New Jersey $61.95 $128,860 18,430
New Mexico $47.83 $99,490 2,940
New York $73.01 $151,850 67,210
North Carolina $54.94 $114,270 11,190
North Dakota $42.08 $87,530 690
Ohio $53.76 $111,810 16,720
Oklahoma $48.25 $100,360 6,960
Oregon $51.56 $107,240 5,120
Pennsylvania $63.42 $131,900 24,950
Rhode Island $45.07 $93,750 1,660
South Carolina $51.44 $107,000 5,440
South Dakota $45.02 $93,650 770
Tennessee $51.92 $107,990 6,310
Texas $62.27 $129,510 37,640
Utah $56.64 $117,800 4,950
Vermont $43.37 $90,200 1,180
Virginia $62.85 $130,730 15,720
Washington $56.14 $116,760 10,400
West Virginia $43.72 $90,930 2,600
Wisconsin $50.59 $105,220 7,120
Wyoming $44.41 $92,380 840
Data courtesy of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Work Environment
In the United States alone, lawyers hold 581,920 jobs in a variety of different settings. The majority (51 percent) of lawyers are employed in private or corporate legal offices. An additional 18 percent are employed in local, state, or federal governments. Around 22 percent of lawyers are self-employed with this own practice or partnership. Lawyers also hold jobs in finance, insurance companies, and management positions of corporations or enterprises. Employment for lawyers is expected to grow at a normal rate of 10 percent between 2010 and 2020, although competition is on the increase.

Lawyers work predominately within an office setting, but some travel to attend meetings with clients at homes, prisons, and hospitals. Others spend their time preparing for and appearing before courts to represent their clients. The setting depends upon the specific title the lawyer holds, such as prosecutor, defense attorney, corporate counsel, tax lawyer, and so on. Many lawyers work long hours that go above and beyond full-time, within high pressure situations.

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