The various shows on television that portray the life of lawyers have done an excellent job of painting a great image for the law profession, but aside from the drama and the cool legal jargon, are lawyers as well-paid as shows like Suits, How to Get Away With Murder suggests? Is the profession truly as financially rewarding as television suggests?
In this article, we examine the pay scale of legal practitioners in the US, detailing how much they earn on average, the industries that pay the most, and the states where lawyers make the most amount of money. If you are aspiring to a career in law or naturally curious, check it out below.
How Much Do Lawyers Make in the US
Let’s get one fact straight – lawyers are one of the best-paid people in the US. It is a highly demanding profession that requires a high level of financial and mental training and combined with their value in American society; it stands tall among the professions in the US when it comes to the salary remuneration.
However, like a lot of other professions, where you fall in the pay scale depends on a host of other factors that could take years to acquire, such as experience and skill. Other factors that determine the earning potential of lawyers include their industry and the location.
For this article, we will be using data provided by the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics as well as other reputable sources like glassdoor.com.
Overall, the average salary for lawyers in the United States is $117,188, which firmly puts the profession among the highest paid in the country. Now, where you fall on either side of the average depends on the factors named earlier and we examine how the average changes for each element below.
Lawyers in highly populated areas with a vast congregation of major businesses and corporations tend to earn more than those in less populated areas.
The highest-paying states in the US for legal practitioners are District of Columbia, where lawyers earn an average of $189,560, California with $168,200, New York with $165,260, Massachusetts with $157,450, and Connecticut with $152,540.
At the bottom of the list were lawyers make the least are states like Idaho, Kansas, New Mexico, Arkansas, South Dakota, and Maine, where they make between $68,260 and $100,900 on average annually.
Not every lawyer has the same job description, and the specialty of a lawyer and the relevant industry can affect how much they earn.
Some of the top-paying industries in the US for lawyers are Scheduled Air Transportation, where lawyers make an average of $214,630; Industrial Machinery Manufacturing has an average of $208,020, Beer, Wine, and Alcoholic Beverage Wholesalers make up to $205,500 annually on average.
Others include Electronic Component Manufacturing lawyers who make up to $196,380, and Cable and Other Subscription Programming lawyers make up to $195,270 annually. In the legal services industry, which has the highest level of employment for the profession in the US, they make up to $145,540 on average.
Also, working in the private sector is infinitely more financially rewarding than in the public sector. While lawyers in the private sector can earn more than $200,000 on average, government lawyers, particularly at the state level, earn $85,000 on average.
How Much Do Lawyers Make Make Around The World?
Due to the United States’ status as the most litigious country in the world, her lawyers are the highest paid in the world, where they can make up to $166,510 in salary annually with four years of experience. However, for those seeking international experience or would like to live outside of the States for some time, here are a few countries who pay lawyers quite well.
Japan – lawyers in Japan, particularly in the private sector as members of a firm or have their own private practice, have an average salary of $145,000.
Switzerland – the rich European country has a thriving financial industry and a host of manufacturing that demands quality and talented lawyers. On average, lawyers in the country earn $120,000.
Norway – Norway is also a great country for lawyers seeking international experience. Like most countries in this list, lawyers in the private sector are the better-paid group of legal practitioners, and they make up to $116,000 annually on average.
Ireland – the starting salary in Ireland might be on the lower scale at $50,000 to $72,000 per year, but with experience, legal practitioners can earn up to $113,000 on average.
Canada – if you are not looking to travel very far, the US neighbor is also a great option, with an average salary of $105,000.
Other high-paying countries for lawyers include Australia, Germany, Netherlands, and the different parts of the UK, where solicitors make between $107,000 and $100,000 in average annual salary.