Home Jobs & Education How Much Do Lawyers Make? + Infographic

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Lawyers advise and represent individuals, corporations, businesses, or government agencies through legal disputes and issues; But how much does a lawyer make a year? Well, the answer heavily depends on location, industry, knowledge, and experience.

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.

lawyer in her office Salary

According to the May 2015 record from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual lawyer salary is $116,835 which is equivalent to a mean $56.17 hourly wage. While the bottom ten percent earns $55,870, the top ten percent earn an average of $187,200. these numbers grew steadily over the last 5 years and are expected to do the same by 2024.

How Much Does a Lawyer Make a Year in Each Industry?

As stated before, the salary of a lawyer depends on his or her industry of employment. For instance, those employed in state government earn an average of $82,550, but those employed in the federal executive branch make $138,860 annually.

The top-paying industries for lawyers are industrial machinery manufacturing at an astounding $101.95 per hour or $212,060 per year, insurance and brokerage for $95.63 per hour or $198,900 a year, and amusement, gambling, or recreation industries for $91.11 per hour or $189,510 per year. The worst paying field for U.S. lawyers are social assistance, with a disappointing $40.02 hourly mean wage which adds up to $83,240 per year.

How Much Does a Lawyer Make a Year in Each State?

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 $ 174,480. Not far behind, California lawyers earn $163,020 and lawyers in New York make $ 155,050, which are both well above national average.

At the opposite end we have Montana with $39.45 per hour – which translates to only $82,070 per year, New Mexico with an hourly wage of $43.96 and a yearly mean wage of $91,430, and Kentucky with $44.98 per hour or $93,560 per year.

State

Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage

Number of Jobs

Alabama

$55.20 $114,820

5,240

Alaska

$58.61 $121,910

1,050

Arizona

$60.41 $125,660

10,300

Arkansas

$48.23 $100,320

3,240

California

$78.37 $163,020

72,790

Colorado

$65.33 $135,880

11,620

Connecticut

$70.72 $147,100

7,660

Delaware

$73.24

$152,330

2,970

Florida

$61.56 $128,050

46,770

Georgia

$62.84 $130,710

15,130

Hawaii

$50.09 $104,180

1,900

Idaho

$46.59 $96,900

2,080

Illinois

$60.54 $125,920

30,220

Indiana

$53.00 $110,240

7,280

Iowa

$51.36 $106,820

3,280

Kansas

$50.86 $105,790

3,690

Kentucky

$44.98 $93,560

5,330

Louisiana

$53.48

$111,240

6,920

Maine

$47.72 $99,260

1,860

Maryland

$58.43 $121,530

11,390

Massachusetts

$73.55 $152,990

16,850

Michigan

$53.33 $110,920

14,230

Minnesota

$61.69 $128,320

10,690

Mississippi

$49.60 $103,180

3,090

Missouri

$55.04 $114,480

9,800

Montana

$39.45 $82,070

1,900

Nebraska

$51.18 $106,460

2,860

Nevada

$57.86 $120,360

5,130

New Hampshire

$55.03 $114,470

1,640

New Jersey

$70.18 $145,970

19,900

New Mexico

$43.96 $91,430

2,830

New York

$74.55 $155,050

72,100

North Carolina

$59.59 $123,940

12,110

North Dakota

$48.96 $101,840

990

Ohio

$54.50 $113,360

15,770

Oklahoma

$56.20 $116,900

6,710

Oregon

$56.63 $117,800

6,880

Pennsylvania

$63.02 $131,090

24,510

Rhode Island

$62.07 $129,100

1,780

South Carolina

$52.52 $109,250

5,590

South Dakota

$46.43 $96,580

750

Tennessee

$60.35 $125,530

7,430

Texas

$68.98 $143,490

41,000

Utah

$54.59 $113,550

4,420

Vermont

$51.26 $106,610

1,190

Virginia

$64.99 $135,180

16,620

Washington

$59.62 $124,000

10,870

West Virginia

$47.25 $98,270

2,350

Wisconsin

$49.04 $101,990

7,650

Wyoming

$49.10 $102,130

880

Data courtesy of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Most lawyers are employed in California (72,790 jobs) and New York (72,100 jobs). On the other hand, Wyoming & South and North Dakota each have less than 1,000 lawyers on their territory.

Being a Lawyer

how much does a lawyer make infographic

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Work Environment

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.

75% of lawyers are employed in private practice, and an additional 8% are employed by the local, state, or federal government. Almost half of the private practitioners work on their own.

Lawyers usually hold jobs in finance, insurance companies, and management positions of corporations or enterprises. The least popular fields among lawyers are waste treatment and disposal, water transportation, and solar power, with less than 50 employed in the U.S. in each of these industries.

General Outlook

Employment for law school graduates is expected to grow at a normal rate of 6 percent by 2024 since the need for legal services of individuals, companies, or government offices and agencies cannot be strongly affected by financial or social factors.

However, more and more law firms find themselves in need of cutting back costs by assigning tasks that were handled by lawyers to paralegals, or outsourcing them. This is happening because clients demand lower prices and many medium-sized or big companies realize it’s more convenient to hire their own full-time legal advisor or collaborate with a self-employed lawyer.

The 2015 National Lawyer Population Survey developed by the American Bar Association indicates 76% of the 47,562 law firms located in the U.S have less than 5 lawyers, 13% have 10 or less, and only 2% employ more than 50. Even though the total of law firms and their employee count increased with about 9,000 companies since 1980, the demand for lawyers is lower than the number of graduates.

Prospects for Law School Graduates

Like many others, employers who are looking for a lawyer require advanced knowledge on the subject – an attribute that many graduates have – but they also tend to hire experienced lawyers, giving little chances to beginners. Therefore, many law school graduates turn to temporary staffing firms which help them obtain temporary, “project-based” jobs to get the needed experience.

Competition in the field is fierce for young lawyers, and flexibility is a must since companies willing to employ an unexperienced practitioner are rarely located in the same area code. Therefore, relocation or long commutes are needed in many cases.

Other Statistics

American Bar Association’s 2015 National Lawyer Population Survey shows there were 1,300,705 licensed lawyers in the U.S. last year, from which less 5% were under 29 years of age – a drastic decrease to 1980’s 15%. Most practicing lawyers are aged between 45 and 55 years old, with a median of 49.

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