Do you like to influence people around you? Is persuading others second nature to you? Are you interested in justice and the law enforcement machinery?
Then, becoming an attorney is your thing!
An attorney represents individuals, businesses, or organizations in legal matters and disputes. He/she is licensed to practice law and uphold it.
In this article, you would know about:
- What is the difference between a lawyer and an attorney?
- What are the different types of attorneys?
- What are the steps to become a lawyer?
- What is the average salary of an attorney?
- Which is the highest-paid lawyer?
- What is the job outlook for a lawyer in 2022?
Lawyer vs Attorneys
More often than not, we may use the terms lawyer and attorney interchangeably. But there is a subtle difference.
A lawyer is an umbrella term for those who pursue or practice law. On the other hand, an attorney, solicitor, and barrister are specialists in their respective fields of law.
The law is so extensive a field that a single attorney can't provide counsel to each sub-field of it. So, attorneys specialize in one or more sub-fields of their choice. The following is the list of different types of attorneys:
Types of Attorneys
Business/ Corporate Attorney
They ensure that all operations of an individual company are conducted within the legal frameworks of local, state, or federal law.
They are well-versed in the country’s taxation system and ensure the client’s compliance with the taxation rules.
Criminal Defense Attorney and Prosecuting Attorney
A defense lawyer could be a prosecutor or a criminal defense lawyer. He/she could institute proceedings against an individual or defend individuals accused of a crime.
They ensure a balance between the interests of governmental institutions and their clients.
Family Law Attorney
They are well-versed with laws around family-related issues and domestic relations.
They know the US Bankruptcy Code inside out and work in fields of consumer or commercial bankruptcy.
They provide advice and representation on matters pertaining to employment between employees, employers, and unions.
They deal with individuals or families seeking US Citizenship.
They help clients with their expertise in Intellectual Property Law.
They know the inner workings of the legal system and the process that one is subjected to during the trial.
Real Estate Attorney
They have agents, homeowners, and buyers as clients.
They guide businesses and publicly held companies through complex legal processes.
They represent individuals facing a lawsuit or criminal prosecution.
IP Attorney/Intellectual Property Attorney
They work with clients to protect their IP rights and Intellectual Property Capital such as inventions, patents, and ideas.
Insurance Defense Attorney
They know the legalities relating to insurance and represent such clients who are facing a lawsuit in matters relating to insurance.
Medical Malpractice Attorney
They represent clients who have suffered a personal injury due to poor medical practices.
They help clients in drafting and enforcing contracts i.e legally binding documents.
Estate Planning Attorney
They are thorough with the estate planning laws that affect your estate.
They specialize in the legal aspects of terminating a marriage.
They deal with laws that govern healthcare institutions including hospitals.
They are licensed to be both lawyers and nurses.
Civil Rights Attorney
They represent clients whose rights have been violated by the government or its agencies.
A criminal attorney represents individuals or organizations facing criminal charges.
Personal Injury Attorney
They represent individuals who have sustained injuries at work or due to poor medical practices.
They are employed to represent commission staff in proceedings before the commission.
They fight or defend civil cases in a court of law.
Work Environment of an Attorney
In contrast to the prevalent notion that attorneys spend most of their time in courtrooms, attorneys spend their time working out of private or legal offices or governmental institutions. Some attorneys might have to travel to meet clients or appear before courts.
Irrespective of the sub-field chosen, most attorneys have to work 40 hours per week. They have to conduct research and prepare and review documentation relating to the case.
How to Become an Attorney?
To understand the legal system, lawyers have to attend special schooling. Before practicing law, a person must match the criteria enacted by the state (which might differ for different states).
The general criterion although remains the same:
- A Bachelor’s Degree or its equivalent
- Three years at a law school granted accreditation by the American Bar Association
- Pass a state bar examination
- Pass a fitness and character review
- Take an oath to support laws of the state and federal constitutions
- License from state supreme court or the highest court in the state
It usually takes 7 years to become an attorney- 4 years of undergraduate study that may include law and legal studies, history, and social science, followed by 3 years of a law school granted accreditation by the American Bar Association.
A Juris Doctor (J.D.) Degree, or law school, of 3 years includes courses such as constitutional law, civil procedure, contracts, etc. Law students could choose to specialize in courses such as corporate law, tax, and labor law.
To practice law, law students have to take licensing exams called bar exams. Students who receive the license are admitted to the bar. Attorneys who wish to practice in more than one state have to pass state bar exams from each state.
Prior misconduct, history of substance abuse, and felony convictions are factors that disqualify applicants for admission to the bar.
Some states allow for lawyers to receive online certifications to continue legal education. Many law schools and bar associations provide courses that help lawyers stay updated with the legal developments that affect their practices.
How much do Attorneys make?
Now, coming to the most important section of this article!
According to a source, the average Attorney Salary in the US in 2020 was $126,930.
The top-paid lawyers received an average salary of $189,520 and the lowest-paid received a salary of $84,450.
Factors affecting Attorney’s Remuneration
The income of an attorney depends on the following factors:
- Geographic region: The attorneys who practice in metropolitans tend to make more.
- Type of firm: An attorney would make more in a corporate firm than a lawyer working in a non-profit entity. The same goes for attorneys working in the private and public sectors. A private-sector attorney makes more.
- Size of the firm: Some attorneys choose to practice on their own which results in less pay than someone who works in a firm with a sizeable number of employees.
- Skill and experience: The remuneration depends on the skillset and the experience of the attorney. An associate would not make as much as a partner in the firm.
- Education: A law school graduate from a prestigious school would earn better than one from a normal law school.
Salary Trajectory of an Attorney
In a corporate firm, a law student would work as a paralegal while completing school. Upon graduating from law school, he/she would work as an associate for 6-9 years before becoming a partner in the firm and then eventually become a managing partner.
The salary trajectory of an attorney as per Payscale is as follows:
|Paralegal Salary / Assistant Us Attorney Salary||$49,808|
|Associate Attorney Salary||$82,983|
|Law Firm Partner Salary||$189164|
|Law Firm Managing Partner Salary||$201,929|
Thus, Starting Attorney Salary in a corporate firm is $82,983.
The salary structure of attorneys at various levels of government differs from that of the corporate. The government attorney salary structure is as follows:
- Assistant District Attorney Salary / Deputy District Attorney Salary - $68,678
- District Attorney Salary - $75,893
- State Attorney Salary - $102,562
- Deputy Attorney General Salary - $99,434
- Attorney General Salary - $141,816
What type of Lawyers Make The Most Money?
According to hasnerlaw, the highest-paid lawyers are:
- Medical Attorney Salary - $138,431
- Intellectual Property Attorney Salary - $128,913
- Trial Attorney Salary - $97,158
- Tax Attorney Salary - $101,204
- Corporate Attorney Salary - $116,361
Attorney Salary by State
According to Forbes, the highest average earnings of lawyers were reported from the following states:
- Attorney Salary in California: $171,550
- Attorney Salary in New York: $167,110
- Attorney Salary in Massachusetts: $165,610
- Attorney Salary in Connecticut: $153,640
- Attorney Salary in Illinois: $152,980
- Attorney Salary in Texas: $150,250
- Attorney Salary in Colorado: $147,560
- Attorney Salary in Arizona: $145,750
- Attorney Salary in Virginia: $139,180
- Attorney Salary in New Jersey: $139,020
Which Industries pay the Highest Salaries?
According to bls.gov, in May 2020 the median annual wages for lawyers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:
- Federal Government - $152,220
- Legal Services - $126,660
- Local government, excluding education and hospitals - $99,900
- State government, excluding education and hospitals - $91,450
Average Salary of other Attorneys
The average attorney salaries in New York, as per Glassdoor are:
- Patent Attorney Salary - $1,56,074
- Trial Attorney Salary - $1,09,654
- Family Law Attorney Salary - $1,53,097
- Real Estate Attorney Salary - $1,47,436
- Criminal Defense Attorney Salary - $95,016
- Corporate Attorney Salary - $2,23,164
- Defense Attorney Salary / Average Defense Attorney Salary - $95,016
- Immigration Attorney Salary - $87,994
- IP Attorney Salary / Intellectual Property Attorney Salary - $1,44,839
- Insurance Defense Attorney Salary - $95,016
- Medical Malpractice Attorney Salary - $105,619
- Contract Attorney Salary - $1,47,436
- Estate Planning Attorney Salary - $1,47,436
- Divorce Attorney SalarY - $104,202
- Healthcare Attorney Salary - $1,47,436
- Nurse Attorney Salary - $92917
- Civil Rights Attorney Salary - $1,47,436
- Criminal Attorney Salary - $1,47,436
- Prosecuting Attorney Salary - $1,04,756
- Personal Injury Attorney Salary - $95,016
- Staff Attorney Salary - $85,480
- Litigation Attorney Salary - $1,63,847
In this article, we introduced some of the law professions and their respective salaries. Of course, the complete list of law professions is much longer. So, a career in law would open doorways to work in different environments of choice.
Legal Occupations are set to grow at 9% from 2020 to 2030 as per bls.gov with intense competition. A growing population will require attorneys to handle legal disputes- both civil and criminal.
The law firms would continue to be the largest employers, but many large corporations are increasing their in-house legal departments rather than outsourcing. So, the job prospects seem promising.
The following occupations are similar to those of lawyers:
- Legal Assistants
- Postsecondary teachers
A career in law is one of the highest paying. The salary can be greatly influenced by:
- The size and location of the company
- Your educational background
- Your work experience
- Continued legal education and certifications to stay updated with legal developments
Spending time and efforts in improving the above-mentioned aspects would be promising as legal occupations are expected to grow by 9% in the current decade.
Now that you have the relevant knowledge and statistics, go ahead and use the Hiration Career Activator Platform to build your resume and get that dream job of yours!
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