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How much money does a lawyer earn?

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From the U.S. Department of Labor:
In May 2008, the median annual wages of all wage-and-salaried lawyers were $110,590. The middle half of the occupation earned between $74,980 and $163,320.

Additional input from contributors:
  • Lawyers will all earn different amounts depending on the city, the types of clients served, and how much he or she is willing to work. However, family lawyers tend to be paid less than other types of lawyers. A reasonable range for a family lawyer in a medium to large city would be $100,000-$200,000.
  • Lawyers can earn anywhere between $250K - $350K but it depends on how much the lawyers charge you.
  • In actuality your salary depends on your experience. 1 year of experience normally pays from 40k-80k 1-4 years pays about 60k-90k 5-9 years pays about 80k-120k 10-19 years pays about 80k-140k 20+ years 85k-157k (Although it is true that some lawyers get payed much more than this these are a very few kind of like Bill Gates vs every other entrepreneur that has ever failed.) Also all of these figures are based off of my resource-
  • There are a number of variables that go into answering a question such as this. As a soon to be graduated law student, I can answer what typical starting pay is like for a first year associate. Private practice starting salaries vary GREATLY by city and size of the firm. Cities such as New York and Washington tend to pay top dollar. Large firms in these markets are starting first year associates out at $160,000/year. Large firms in secondary markets such as Cleveland, Denver, and Minneapolis are starting their associates out at around $120,000. As a general rule, the smaller the firm in the smaller the city, the less your starting salary will be. For example firms in my hometown of 200,000 are starting their first year associates at around $70-$75,000. I have even heard of some firms paying as low as $35,000 to their first year associates.
  • Future/current law students - please do not be misled by these large starting salary figures. Landing a job that pays even $70-75,000 is not an easy task. Because in law school, there is a strict curve, firms know what percentile of the class that you are in. The top paying firms recruit only from the top of the class at the top law schools. If you are at the bottom or even near the middle of your class in a lower-ranked law school, do not expect to make these kinds of figures unless you have a special asset that the firm needs.
  • There is a common misconception in America that if you go to law school, you will earn a high salary. The truth is that an overwhelming amount of law students graduate without jobs in the legal field. To land a job at a top paying firm will take hard work while attending a respectable law school. So the moral is, work hard and it can pay off. Don't slack around because your $90,000 investment into grad school may become a huge burden when you have to repay those loans while flipping burgers at McDonald's.
  • This varies quite a bit, of course, based on experience and specialty. Moreover, many lawyers work for themselves. They charge their clients an hourly rate.
  • I am a pre-law student, and I have done extensive amounts of research on the field of law. The salary amount, of course, varies with location you would like to practice at or what kind of law you are thinking of doing. But the average salary starting out (Example: your first year in a law firm) is estimated to be anywhere from $60,000-$70,000 per year. The more experienced you are does nothing but helps you; the average for a successful lawyer can be anywhere from $200,000 to sometimes 1 million plus. As I said before, it's all about where you practice and how much experience is "under your belt".
  • There are too many variables to be able to give a proper answer to your question. A freshly graduated law school student will be lucky to get $30k a year, while a highly experienced and well known trial lawyer could make millions in a year.
  • It's difficult to be specific without knowing the area in which the attorney would be practicing, how long the person has been practicing, the geographical area and so forth. An attorney who caters to the wealthy can make a great deal of money while one who works for the ACLU is rather far down the economic ladder. Being a practicing attorney is much the same as being a doctor or educator one makes the decision as to how they wish to apply their knowledge and acts upon it in the way that reflects their personal ideology.
  • The average amount that lawyers make is from $100-300 dollars an hour. It depends on how much you charge the clients.
  • It depends upon the type of practice that one chooses. The majority of attorneys do not make the enormous sums that the general public believes. Attorneys practicing family or general law have an average yearly salary of $65,000 to $72,000.
  • Depends on where you work. Different kinds of lawyers earn different kinds of salaries. In Canada, the starting salary for a person with a law degree is around C$74,300 In Canada, the average salary for all lawyers is around C$99,200. In Canada, most lawyers earn on average about C$29.75 per hour. This is from Of course, lawyers don't only earn money by representing clients in court or drawing up legal documents. Lawyers can earn commission by referring their clients to other lawyers with an expertise in a certain area of the law. Depending on the reputation of the referred lawyer, commissions can go as high as C$50,000.
  • The middle half of all lawyers earned between $61,060 and $136,810 a year in 2002. The lowest-paid 10 percent earned less than $44,490. The highest-paid 10 percent earned more than $145,600 a year. The pay for lawyers depends on whom they work for. It also depends on how long they have been lawyers and on how many special things they have learned about the law. In general, lawyers are among the highest paid workers in the country.
  • That's a question for which there can be no specific answer as there are many variables. The type of field and practice, criminal, civil, prosecutor, defense, non profit organization, public, private practice or firm, geographical area and so forth. And of course experience usually applies in any type of employment or profession.
  • Different types of legal employers generally have different pay scales. Private practice usually pays more than government. Government usually pays more than not-for-profits. However, many factors affect salaries of attorneys in private practice. One factor is the size of the firm, small medium or large. Large firms generally pay more. That is not to say that attorneys at some small boutique firms don't make just as much, if not more, than lawyers at big firms. That does happen, but on a average big firms pay more. To get into a big firm, you can do it right out of(or during) law school but you generally need to come out of a school with a good reputation and/or have really good grades. A school with a lesser reputation has less of their students making it to big firms but those graduating at the top of their class and participating in journals, law review or moot court competitions can make it into a big firm. It is also possible to get in the back door of a big firm after a few years of practice. Experience and proven success in a specialized area may open the door. Another factor is what type of law you practice. Some areas of the law simply deal with clients that have more money. Corporate and financial related cases often deal with deep pockets therefore pay well. Lawyers advising small businesses naturally will charge less than the corporate attorneys. Other areas may have drastic pay differences within themselves, such as criminal or family law(divorce) This is due to factors such as the attorney's reputation. Another factor is geography. Northeast and west coast pay well as do cities versus rural areas. Experience also makes a difference. A senior person bills at a higher rate than a junior person, therefore, a senior person will be compensated more. An equity partner makes more than a non-equity partner which makes more than an associate.
  • The best resource for this topic would be You can find information on salaries there. In Boston (2007) many large firms are adopting the salary scales of their New York offices. Three of the larger firms have starting salaries for first year associates at $160,000 plus a year end bonus. Bonuses usually start out at fixed rates for the first few years (as long as you complete a minimum amount of billable hours) and then become more discretionary as you achieve seniority. Many other firms start at $125,000 - $145,000 plus bonus, so the figures that you see in the paragraphs above don't reflect what can be earned at large law firms. However, these firms are very competitive and difficult to get into. After remaining at a law firm for eight years or so you can make partner. There are two levels of "partnership" at many firms. We'll call them "regular" and "money" partners. Regular partners can make salaries around $500 - $800,000, but do not directly share in the company's profits. "Money" partners make similar salaries, but they also split up the firm's profits as their year end bonuses which are much larger than everyone else's bonuses. It is not unusual for lawyers at this level to make $1 - 4 million per year.
Thanks for the feedback!

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