Lawyer Salary By Experience
|Experience Level||Low Hourly||High Hourly||Low Annual||High Annual|
|20 Years +||$29.10||$99.25||$60,520.00||$206,450.00|
A lawyer is a professional who is trained in the practice of law. Other terms used to denote the position are attorney, legal counsel, and solicitor. It is one of the most widely-practiced occupations in the world. A lawyer's responsibilities greatly vary, depending on the type of law he chooses to practice. Generally, all lawyers use their knowledge and expertise of existing laws, government policies, and legal technicalities to forward their cases, from outlining terms and conditions of contracts to solving smallest legal disputes to winning courtroom trials.
A lawyer's clientele ranges from single individuals to small businesses and organizations and even government agencies. Depending on his or her desire and other tendencies, an attorney can delve into and practice specific fields of law. Listed below are the common areas of legal expertise:
There are certain cases where an attorney does not only act as a representative of a particular client, but also as a mediator between two disputing parties. Also, a lawyer is qualified to dispense legal advice to any person or group pertaining to any legal issue that can be covered by the lawyer's expertise.
In the United States, there are 570,950 lawyers as of May 2011 and their median salary is listed at $113,310 a year or about $54.47 an hour. The top 10% are making as much as or greater than $90.00 per hour or $187,200 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The bottom 10% earn less than $54,120 per annum.
The pay grade a lawyer receives depends on a number of factors, including the type of employer he or she is working for. Each employer has its own sets of requirements and standards that determine how much attorney pay one is afforded to.
In the United States today, 372,030 lawyers are employed in law firms that provide basic and specific legal services. Attorneys working in law firms are also doing well financially, earning a lawyer pay grade of $137,170 a year, which is higher than the national figure. Law firms also offer the highest number of employment positions, especially for those who are still in the early phase of their careers. Local government agencies also present a high number of opportunities for entry-level attorneys. However, the yearly lawyer salary is pegged at $93,070 per annum, which is substantially lower than the national standard.
High-paying positions are present for lawyers but employment opportunities are very limited to those with extensive knowledge in specific law areas. High-paying sectors such as petroleum and coal products manufacturing corporations and motor and vehicle manufacturers shell out sizeable annual attorney wages at $215,760 and $187,360 respectively. But there are only 350 legal counsels working for petroleum and coal products manufacturing corporations while there is no clear estimate for motor and vehicle companies.
It is very important to know that there are employers that pay minimum wage rates for positions that require basic knowledge of the law while top corporations are willing to shell out premium lawyer salary rates for positions that need advanced knowledge and considerable experience in a specific legal area.
The road to becoming a professional lawyer is very demanding in terms of academic standards. The position requires seven years of full time study after high school - four years of college education and three years in law school. Aspiring lawyers are encouraged to take courses in English, public speaking, government, history, economics, and mathematics as knowledge in these areas will prove useful in law school.
One must attend a law school recognized by the American Bar Association (ABA). Admission to any law school in the United States obliges the aspirant to pass the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). Some of the subjects taught in law school are constitutional law, contracts, property law, civil procedure, and legal writing. In certain cases, law students may take up advanced courses to further bolster their knowledge of the law. Advanced studies in tax, labor, or corporate law are among the most popular subjects.
Law students are also subjected to the hands-on training through school-sponsored legal clinics, moot court competitions, writing for legal journals, and participating in practice trials under the direction of experienced lawyers and judges. Law students also gain practical experience by working as part-timers in law firms or in government agencies.
Graduating from law school leads to a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree, a very important prerequisite in taking the bar examination. "Passing the bar" ultimately means being "admitted to the bar", which leads to becoming a licensed lawyer. Each state has its own bar examination standards. This means that a lawyer who will relocate and practice law in another state is required to take and pass a different bar examination.
Lawyers are now obliged by law to take continuing education, whether yearly or every three years, to keep them updated of recent developments in the legal arena. Continuing education programs are usually administered by law schools, state and local bar organizations and chapters.
In a May 2011 report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is an expected 10% growth of lawyers within the 2010-2020 decade. There will be a rise in demand for legal service professionals in the future, as more individuals, corporations, and government offices will require legal expertise and representation. The call for lawyers to represent the United States in civil and criminal cases is seen to moderately increase the number of lawyers in the future.
While this is a positive outlook, the aid government agency said that further growth will be contained as more firms are now keen on hiring paralegals and legal assistants in doing basic legal legwork. This will have a negative effect on a novice lawyer's chances for employment. Because of the increasing popularity of paralegals and legal aides, a lawyer's ability to compromise and adjust is now considered important.
Many lawyers now start out as paralegals in building their lawyer careers. Their experience as paralegals will definitely help them in branching out in the legal industry and securing high-paying legal positions in the future.
Most lawyers build their careers as law researchers and practitioners in law firms. Others work as associates to experienced lawyers and judges. Those who want to start right away in legal practice tend to provide pro bono (free) legal services, usually representing individuals who cannot afford of hiring their own lawyers and non-profit organizations.
Those few who are having difficulty in securing a position as a lawyer start out as paralegals. The downslide suffered by the US economy has shifted many corporations' focus on hiring low-cost paralegals in handling their legal work instead of lawyers. Still, starting out as a paralegal provides a stable platform in launching one's law career.
Attorneys who choose to specialize in certain areas of law increase their chances of getting hired for their specialty and receive higher lawyer salary rates. Real estate lawyers, criminal lawyers, and corporate lawyers are hired by top firms in their respective legal fields.
Lawyers are also elected to judgeships, especially those who are highly experienced and well-versed in the field of law. Others may venture into the academe and become law professors. Still, there are others who found success in starting their own law firm.
If you feel you have what it takes to become a legal professional yet you feel unsure about becoming a lawyer, here are some of the related occupations you may want to explore:
Aspiring lawyers need to hone a wide range of personal skills, including analytical thinking, problem solving, and a high level of research, speaking and writing. They must also have excellent interpersonal skills in order to win their client's trust, which is essential to learning the facts of the case and defending their interests.
The lawyer profession is a very noble endeavor. Although the path to become one is difficult, the rewards are great for a well suited individual. If you are keen on bettering the world and helping other people, then becoming a lawyer will empower you to do so.