What Lawyers Actually Make In 6 Different Parts Of America

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A while back, the team here at TFD brainstormed a way we could provide specific insight into different careers by focusing on a certain job, providing basic stats about it, and rounding up a range of salaries that span the whole of the U.S. We’ll do this roundup with a new position each time, and we want to know the fields and positions YOU want to see. Leave your suggestions in the comment section below! We began with marketing, and the career that’s up next is Law and working as a professional Lawyer. We’re going to take a look at salaries across a few different positions, (though there are MANY within these) from entry-level to experienced attorneys. Hopefully, this will help you gain a better understanding of the type of work involved in a career in law, and how much you can potentially make while doing so.

Lawyers play an enormously important role in our society, and yet, as someone whose only entry-point into the world of law was the movie Legally Blonde and USA’s Suits, I’m pretty far removed from the profession. I have a few friends in law school, when they discuss what they are concentrating on and specializing in, it’s overwhelming to listen to because I don’t know any of the jargon being used. However, the work lawyers do in both the public and private sector, is invaluable to our judicial system, and I think it’s useful to have a working knowledge of this profession.

There’s an incredibly insightful article written here, which describes what exactly lawyers do and what their profession offers them, saying:

Lawyers represent all sorts of clients including individuals, businesses, and government agencies involved in legal disputes. In order to advise and represent clients, lawyers are responsible for interpreting laws and rulings and filing out legal documents. Some of the documents lawyers work with include lawsuits, contracts, deeds, and wills. Lawyers may specialize in a specific area within the legal systems such as criminal law, marriage and divorce law, corporate law, taxes, family law, or litigation.

You see? The career opportunities are super complex and vary greatly. For example, we here at TFD have a lawyer that specializes in a very tiny slice of law that is just one piece of a LARGE puzzle. To read more about the top law careers, check out this article which explores the top ten most lucrative options. Of course, this article simply serves as a primer into this profession and there is a ton more to learn, read up on, and explore. Career advisors suggest seeking someone out who works in this profession and/or an area in which you’re interested in, and ask them a ton of questions to help you contextualize what life is like for professional lawyers. Also, be sure to read up on these thorough articles here and here, which will help prepare your for what to expect.

Without further adieu, check out the various salary listings below. We take a look at how much you can make working in each of the positions mentioned above. (We used Glassdoor to research the salaries listed, but you can also use sites like PayScale, The Bureau Of Labor Statistics, or even LinkedIn to do your own research).

Position: Entry-level Attorney, Associate Attorney, and experienced Senior-level Attorney. Also, I didn’t know this, but once you have a law degree, you’re always be considered a “lawyer.” This article explains, “A lawyer is someone who is educated in the law. A person who has been educated in the law will always be addressed as a lawyer, even if he or she does not give legal advice to other people.”

National Average Salary:

Entry-Level Attorney: $57,154
Associate Attorney: $68,274
Senior-Level Attorney: $132,120

Also, this article has an awesome graph at the bottom, which tracks how salaries change/adjust depending on the size of the company that hires you.

Degree Required: A Juris Doctor (masters of law) degree. (Which is what the degree is called when you complete training in the United States, Canada, or Australia.) The entire education process, in a nutshell, goes a little something like this: Earn your Bachelors’ degree (in whatever area of study, like english, finance, pre-law, etc.) –> pass the LAST –> Enroll and get accepted to Law school –> Complete an internship–> Graduate –> Pass the Bar Exam. I have a friend going to law school, and she told me that when she asked her advisor at the start of her junior year college what she should major in if she intended to go to law school, he said, “Get a degree in something you’d be interested in pursuing if you can’t get into law school.” Sound advice.

Position Description: The world of law is a complex and rich field to work in. For outsiders, it’s tough to know exactly what lawyers do, even if we do see them represented on TV. An article on MyPlan.com describes the job succinctly, saying, “Lawyers represent clients in criminal and civil litigation and other legal proceedings, draw up legal documents, or manage or advise clients on legal transactions. May specialize in a single area or may practice broadly in many areas of law.” There are many different area of law one can choose to study, such as: Constitutional LawEnvironmental LawIntellectual Property LawInternational LawLabor Law, and Public Interest Law.

Opportunities for advancement/promotion: A day in the life of a lawyer looks different for everyone, depending on where you work and what you specialize in. This article explains, “Attorneys spend most of their time in courtrooms, law libraries, or legal offices. They can meet clients at their homes, prisons, or hospitals. Lawyers may have to travel to various locations such as courtrooms or meeting locations. Attorneys will experience a lot of stress when a case is being tried in court. Lawyers must stay up to date about recent judicial decisions and new laws.” Depending on whether or not you work in a public or private firm, your advancement up the law career ladder will differ. Be sure to check out these helpful articles about advancing through a career in law here, here, and here.

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– Los Angeles, CA: $120, 552 (Entry-Level Attorney)

– San Francisco, CA: $107,429 (Entry-Level Attorney)

– Seattle, WA: $102,117 (Entry-Level Attorney)

– Portland, OR: $127,714 (Associate Attorney)

– San Diego, CA: $127, 275 (Senior Attorney)

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– New York City, NY: $142,474 (Senior Attorney)

– Philadelphia, PA: $104,322 (Entry-Level Attorney)

– Albany, NY: $110,496* (Senior Attorney)

– Washington, DC: $118,788 (Entry-Level Attorney)

– Newark, NJ: $120,257 (Entry-Level Attorney)

– Baltimore, MD: $111,922* (Senior Attorney)

– Middletown, DE: $95,504 (Associate Attorney)

– Pittsburgh, PA: $105,290 (Associate Attorney)

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– Boston, MA: $111,186 (Entry-Level Attorney)

– Bridgeport, CT: $163,730 (Associate Attorney)

– Manchester, NH: $94,455 (Entry-Level Attorney)

– Stamford, CT: $125,315 (Associate Attorney)

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– Chicago, IL: $107,820 (Entry-Level Attorney)

– Detroit, MI: $113,436 (Associate Attorney)

– Columbus, OH: $98,367 (Entry-Level Attorney)

– Denver, CO: $95,662 (Associate Attorney)

– Salt Lake City, UT: $131,507 (Associate Attorney)

– Indianapolis, IN: $93,172 (Entry-Level Attorney)

– Grand Rapids, MI: $111,340 (Associate Attorney)

– Omaha, NE: $89,228 (Entry-Level Attorney)

– Cleveland, OH: $126,449 (Associate Attorney)

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– Phoenix, AZ: $111,714 (Entry-Level Attorney)

– Las Vegas, NV: $105,399 (Associate Attorney)

– Tucsan, AZ: $89,533 (Entry-Level Attorney)

– Houston, TX: $164,998 (Associate Attorney)

– Austin, TX: $137,436 (Associate Attorney)

– Dallas, TX: $108,719 (Entry-Level Attorney)

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– Atlanta, GA: $99,135 (Entry-Level Attorney)

– Louisville, KY: $105,354 (Senior Attorney)

– Miami, FL: $92,715 (Entry-Level Attorney)

– Raleigh, NC: $101,885 (Senior Attorney)

– Orlando, FL: $81,936 (Entry-Level Attorney)

– Memphis, TN: $110,908 (Associate Attorney)

– Jacksonville, FL: $112,304 (Associate Attorney)

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Remember to leave your suggestions for the next salary round-up in the comment section below!

Top image via Flickr

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