How Much Do Lawyers Make?

Law is a well-respected and rewarding career. As an attorney, you will have the chance to make a difference in your clients’ lives, write laws, or guide corporations to success. But of course, your potential salary is an extremely important consideration when it comes to your law career path. So how much do lawyers make?

Lawyer Salaries Vary By Location

How much money lawyers make depends significantly on where they are practicing. Each state will offer different salary potential, as will each city. For example, you might expect that lawyers in New York City would make more money than lawyers in Jackson, Mississippi, and you’d be right! The average salary for a lawyer in Jackson is $73,139, while in New York City, it’s $114,134. While the national average salary for lawyers is $106,148, take a look at the US News guide to the “Top 5 Best Paying Cities for Lawyers.”

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San Jose, California$201,240
Los Angeles, California$165,660
Bridgport, Connecticut$165,440
Houston, Texas$163,070
San Francisco, California$162,040

Lawyer Salaries Vary By Practice Area

How much lawyers make also varies by practice area. Different areas of law may require more in-depth experience, specialized knowledge, or may be a more exclusive niche (like Entertainment Law, which involves having good connections!). So, you can expect that the average salary potential for Personal Injury Law would be different than Intellectual Property. Intellectual Property lawyers usually have a background in Engineering/Science. Their education and understanding of patent-able technology helps them practice effectively. On the other hand, Personal Injury is more administrative and can be much more hands-off for the average lawyer. If cases don’t go to trial and without a large number of clients, the potential for income can be significantly less. Practice Panther has drawn up an infographic to illustrate these differences in salary based on practice area. Take a look at a summary of their information below.

Intellectual Property$155,037
Health Care$146,590
Real Estate$118,000
Criminal Defense$78,500
Personal Injury$73,000
Family & Divorce$71,336
Civil Rights$69,000

Consider More Than Salary

Now that you know how much lawyers make, it is important to decide what is more important to you. You might be able to make more money in one state over the other. But, your lifestyle, personality, and life goals should be weighted heavily when you decide where to live and practice. Also, a higher salary might come with much higher living costs in some states and cities. Don’t choose an area of practice based only on how much you can make. If you really do not enjoy what you do, you may end up burning out! But as a positive–lawyers generally make more money than in many other professions.

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  • Deborah

    Deborah earned her undergraduate degree from Brown University in 2010 and MBA from Salve Regina University. She scored in the 96th percentile on the LSAT and loves finding better ways to understand logic and solid arguments. When she’s not teaching, she enjoys volunteering, reading adventure fiction, and adding tech skills to her toolbox.

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