Lawyers
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Speciality
Overview
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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.
Titles for this career often contain these words
AttorneyLawyerCounselLegalAssistantDeputyGeneralCountyLawCorporateCounselorEstateAssociateSolicitorCriminalConsultantImmigrationPatentRealTaxCorporationPublicDefenderProsecutingatExaminerWriterCityCivilAgentDefenseEnvironmentalForeignInsuranceLitigationSportsStaffTitleTrialAdmiraltyAgencyDistrictFederalBarBarristerBriefBusinessRightsClaimClosingCommonwealthConsumerAdvocateContractsConveyancerJusticeCyberAdvisorChiefCommonwealth'sDivorceDocumentReviewEmploymentEntertainmentConservatorFamilyHealthCareSpecialistIntellectualPropertyAdviserArbitratorDepartmentManagerResearchAnalystResearcherMilitaryPartnerProbateProsecutorCloserTariff
Education
About 93% of lawyers, and judges, magistrates, and similar judicial professionals have a graduate-level education, and 98% have at least a bachelor's degree.
Education attained by lawyers, and judges, magistrates, and similar judicial professionals
None
High School
Some College
Associate's/Cert.
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Professional Degree
Doctorate
Context: workers with graduate degrees
More lawyers, and judges, magistrates, and similar judicial professionals have graduate degrees than 98% of other careeers.
Employment
Workforce size
Lawyers, with 823,900 workers, form a larger workforce than 94% of careers.
Predicted employment growth
Over the next decade, jobs for lawyers are expected to grow by 6%, and should have about 45,700 job openings a year.
Safety from automation
Lawyers are less likely to be automated than 81% of other careers.
Salaries
Context: Median Salary
How do salaries for lawyers compare to other jobs' salaries?
Distribution: What salary can you expect?
See what most lawyers earn.
$123K$0$50K$100K$150K$200K$250K
Note: The salaries for lawyers have been top-coded by the BLS; in 2019, all annual salaries larger than $208,000 are recorded as $208,000.
Gender
Women account for 39% of lawyers, and judges, magistrates, and similar judicial professionals -- that's a larger percentage than 51% of other jobs.
Gender of lawyers, and judges, magistrates, and similar judicial professionals
Men
Women
Context: Salary inequity
For each career, we compared the median (middle) men's salary to the median women's salary. For lawyers, and judges, magistrates, and similar judicial professionals, the median men's salary was 15% more the median woman's salary.
Race/Origin
About 13% of lawyers, and judges, magistrates, and similar judicial professionals are minority, and 7% are foreign-born.
Race/origin of lawyers, and judges, magistrates, and similar judicial professionals
White
Black
Pacific Islander
Hispanic
Asian
American Indian
Multiracial
Other
Context: Foreign-born workers (7%)
Where are the most jobs?
We ranked the number of jobs in Lawyers per thousand workers in each state, DC, and Puerto Rico. Blue indicates low density, with lighter shades moving to yellow indicating higher numbers working in this profession.
AKMEWIVTNHWAIDMTNDMNILMINYMAORUTWYSDIAINOHPANJCTRICANVCONEMOKYWVVAMDDEAZNMKSARTNNCSCDCOKLAMSALGAHITXFLPR
Worker concerns
Some jobs are more stressful than others, and some are just plain dangerous. The following list gives the percentages of lawyers who report hazardous or difficult situations typically occurring at least once a week.
  • Time Pressure (91%)
  • Frequency of Conflict Situations (85%)
  • Consequence of Error (70%)
  • Deal With Unpleasant or Angry People (66%)
SOURCES:
Salary and diversity
What do lawyers, and judges, magistrates, and similar judicial professionals earn?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides company-reported job titles and corresonding salaries at the specialty level (lawyers). This data excludes self-employed workers.
Distribution: Salaries for lawyers (BLS Salary Data)
$123K$0$50K$100K$150K$200K$250K
Context: Median salaries across careers (BLS Salary Data)
$123K$0$50K$100K$150K$200K$250K
Note: The salaries for lawyers have been top-coded by the BLS; in 2019, all annual salaries larger than $208,000 are recorded as $208,000.
The American Community Survey (ACS) asks individuals to report their occupation and salary, and as such includes self-employed workers. This view of salaries is only available for all lawyers, and judges, magistrates, and similar judicial professionals.
Distribution: Salaries for lawyers, and judges, magistrates, and similar judicial professionals (ACS Salary Data)
$95K$0$50K$100K$150K$200K$250K
Context: Median salaries across careers (ACS Salary Data)
$95K$0$50K$100K$150K$200K$250K
A look at employers and corresponding salaries
The donut shares the break-down of workers by employer type, giving us a picture of what employers most typically hire lawyers.
Employers of Lawyers, and judges, magistrates, and similar judicial professionals (ACS)
Private for-profit (50.4%)
Private not-for-profit (3.9%)
Local government (7.0%)
State government (8.9%)
Federal government (6.5%)
Self-employed incorporated (13.3%)
Self-employed not incorporated (10.0%)
Working without pay (0.1%)
Distribution: Salaries of lawyers, and judges, magistrates, and similar judicial professionals by type of employer (ACS data)
Following are the salary distributions by employer type calculated by aggregating individual household survey responses. These salaries were reported for the larger career group of lawyers, and judges, magistrates, and similar judicial professionals, which combines the 4 specialties for this career.
$95K$91K$103K$123K$68K$87K$81K$89K$0$50,000$100,000$150,000$200,000Self-employed not incorporatedSelf-employed incorporatedFederal governmentState governmentLocal governmentPrivate not-for-profitPrivate for-profitAll
Note: The salaries for lawyers have been top-coded by the BLS; in 2019, all annual salaries larger than $208,000 are recorded as $208,000.
Distribution: Salaries of lawyers by type of employer (BLS data)
Following are the salary distributions by employer type as reported by BLS based on large employer-focused surveys. We note that smaller employer categories are not included by BLS. Remember that the BLS salaries are for the specialty lawyers, and may differ signficantly from the ACS salary estimates which combine several career specialties.
$123K$0$50,000$100,000$150,000$200,000$250,000All
Note: The salaries for lawyers have been top-coded by the BLS; in 2019, all annual salaries larger than $208,000 are recorded as $208,000.

We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.

Salary growth for lawyers, and judges, magistrates, and similar judicial professionals

Is this a job that rewards experience, or is this job most likely a part of a career ladder? The higher a job's experience quotient, the more experience is rewarded with pay increases. Jobs in the green range have the best rewards with experience.

Take a minute to look at how much you might expect your salary to increase with each five years' experience, as well as how the numbers working at each age change. Does this seem to be a job for the young or the old, or could it be a career offering steady salary growth for many years?

Salary distribution
$64K$104K$106K$107K$101K$82K$105K$97K$0$50K$100K$150K$200K20-2425-2930-3435-3940-4445-4950-5455-5960-64
Number employed
050K100K150K20-2425-2930-3435-3940-4445-4950-5455-5960-64

We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.

Lawyers, and judges, magistrates, and similar judicial professionals and gender

With 39% women, this occupation has a higher percentage of women than 51% of careers.

Context: Women in the workforce
39%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Gender of Lawyers, and judges, magistrates, and similar judicial professionals
Men (61%)
Women (39%)
Distribution: Salaries by gender

The median salary for all full-time male workers in the US exceeds the full-time median salary for women by 19%. The situation is a little better for lawyers, and judges, magistrates, and similar judicial professionals, with the median salary for men 15% higher than the median salary for women.

$88K$101K$0$50K$100K$150K$200KWomenMen
Context: Salary Inequity

The chart below shows the salary inequity, the percentage by which the median men's salary is higher than the median women's salary for all but about 20 jobs in which women typically earn more than men.

15%0%20%40%60%80%100%

We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.

Race and origin of lawyers, and judges, magistrates, and similar judicial professionals

Here we check out the diversity of origin in this career. There is a smaller percentage of minority lawyers, and judges, magistrates, and similar judicial professionals than for 83% of other careers. As with minority workers, there is also a smaller percentage of foreign-born workers in this career than in most other careers.

Race/origin of lawyers, and judges, magistrates, and similar judicial professionals
White (86% )
Black (6% )
Asian (5% )
Multiracial (2% )
Other (1% )
Hispanic (0% )
American Indian (0% )
Pacific Islander (0% )
Context: Representation of minorities in the workforce
13%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Context: Representation of foreign-born workers
7%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Distribution: Salaries for lawyers, and judges, magistrates, and similar judicial professionals by race/origin

For some careers, there is a pay disparity depending on race or origin, though this is not prevalent. We calculate standard errors for all of our calculations, and when the error is high we do not show results. Therefore, for some jobs will have omitted race/origin categories.

$75K$84K$86K$86K$92K$92K$96K$0$50K$100K$150K$200KOtherHispanicBlackAmerican IndianMultiracialAsianWhite
Distribution: Salaries for lawyers, and judges, magistrates, and similar judicial professionals by nativity
$88K$95K$0$50K$100K$150K$200KAll foreign-bornAll native citizens

We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.

Lawyers, and judges, magistrates, and similar judicial professionals and Part-time/Full-time employment

We've found that somes jobs hava a huge number of part-time workers, and that typically most who are working part-time are doing so because they cannot find full-time work or the job they have cannot provide full-time hours. With 7% part-time workers, this occupation has a lower percentage of part-time workers than 67% of careers.

Context: Part-time workers in the workforce
7%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Why workers are part-time
Full-Time is less than 35 hours a week
Retired/Social Security limit on earnings
Could not find full-time work
Seasonal work
Slack work/business conditions
School/training
Health/medical limitations
Child care problems
Other family/personal obligations
Other reasons
Distribution: Salaries by part-time/full-time status

The salary distributions for full-time and part-time lawyers, and judges, magistrates, and similar judicial professionals is shown following.

$39K$95K$0$50K$100K$150K$200KPart-time workersFull-time workers
Pathways to this career
Education attained by lawyers

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), lawyers typically hold a doctoral or professional degree.

Sometimes the typical education identified by the BLS differs a bit from the reality of the how much education current workers actually have. The donut shows the education level held by people currently working as lawyers, and judges, magistrates, and similar judicial professionals as reported in responses to the American Community Survey.

Details: Education and training recommended for lawyers

Becoming a lawyer usually takes 7 years of full-time study after high school—4 years of undergraduate study, followed by 3 years of law school. Most states and jurisdictions require lawyers to complete a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree from a law school accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA). ABA accreditation signifies that the law school—particularly its curricula and faculty—meets certain standards.

A bachelor’s degree is required for entry into most law schools, and courses in English, public speaking, government, history, economics, and mathematics are useful.

Almost all law schools, particularly those approved by the ABA, require applicants to take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). This test measures applicants’ aptitude for the study of law.

A J.D. degree program includes courses such as constitutional law, contracts, property law, civil procedure, and legal writing. Law students may choose specialized courses in areas such as tax, labor, and corporate law.

Details: Licensing and certification recommended for lawyers

Prospective lawyers take licensing exams called “bar exams.” Lawyers who receive a license to practice law are “admitted to the bar.”

To practice law in any state, a person must be admitted to the state’s bar under rules established by the jurisdiction’s highest court. The requirements vary by state and jurisdiction. For more details on individual state and jurisdiction requirements, visit the National Conference of Bar Examiners.

Most states require that applicants graduate from an ABA-accredited law school, pass one or more written bar exams, and be found by an admitting board to have the character to represent and advise others. Prior felony convictions, academic misconduct, and a history of substance abuse are just some factors that may disqualify an applicant from being admitted to the bar.

Lawyers who want to practice in more than one state often must take the bar exam in each state.

After graduation, lawyers must keep informed about legal developments that affect their practices. Almost all states require lawyers to participate in continuing legal education either every year or every 3 years.

Many law schools and state and local bar associations provide continuing legal education courses that help lawyers stay current with recent developments. Courses vary by state and generally cover a subject within the practice of law, such as legal ethics, taxes and tax fraud, and healthcare. Some states allow lawyers to take continuing education credits through online courses.

Education attained by lawyers, and judges, magistrates, and similar judicial professionals
None
High School
Some College
Associate's/Cert.
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Professional Degree
Doctorate
Distribution: Salary by education level

What level of education is truly needed for lawyers, and judges, magistrates, and similar judicial professionals? Below we see the distribution of lawyers, and judges, magistrates, and similar judicial professionals salaries based on the education attained. You may have noticed in the dashboard and elsewhere that BLS top-codes salaries. ACS also engages in a form of top-coding, but by looking at the broader field of lawyers, and judges, magistrates, and similar judicial professionals and using the ACS, we are able to see some of the higher salaries and can give a better idea of the range of salaries for this field.

$75K$74K$68K$64K$86K$86K$97K$90K$0$50K$100K$150K$200KNone (0%)High School (0%)Some College (1%)Associate's/Cert. (0%)Bachelor's Degree (6%)Master's Degree (4%)Professional Degree (80%)Doctorate (9%)

We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.

College majors held by lawyers, and judges, magistrates, and similar judicial professionals

This table shows the college majors held by people working as lawyers, and judges, magistrates, and similar judicial professionals.

If you see "**" before the name of a degree/program, that means this field is one that the Department of Education believes is preparatory for this career. However, you can see from this list that those recommendations are far from your only path to this job!

Percentage of Lawyers, and judges, magistrates, and similar judicial professionals with this degree
Salary for all majors
Salary distribution (across jobs). Showing 0-$200,000.
Median
Middle 50%
Middle 80%
Education
Final education level of all people with this major
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate/Professional
Gender
Gender of people this bachelor's degree
Men
Women
The link between degrees and careers

With the following sankey diagram, you can follow the top ten bachelor's degrees held by people working as lawyers, and judges, magistrates, and similar judicial professionals, and then, in turn, you can see the 10 occupations that hire the most of each degree's graduates. We hope this provides ideas for similar jobs and similar fields of study.

Lawyers, and judges, magi...Specialized ManagersElementary and Middle Sch...Chief executives and legi...Postsecondary TeachersManagement AnalystsEducation and childcare a...Financial ManagersParalegals and Legal Assi...First-Line Supervisors of...Secondary School TeachersWholesale and Manufacturi...EditorsWriters and AuthorsSecretaries and Administr...Accountants and AuditorsPersonal Financial Adviso...First-Line Supervisors of...Financial and Investment ...Specialized Social Worker...Educational, Guidance, an...Specialized PsychologistsRegistered NursesLabor Relations Specialis...Customer Service Represen...Retail SalespersonsClergyPhysiciansSoftware DevelopersPolice OfficersProbation Officers and Co...Security Guards and Gambl...Correctional Officers and...Detectives and Criminal I...First-Line Supervisors of...First-Line Supervisors of...Bookkeeping, Accounting, ...Political Science andGovernmentHistoryEnglish Language andLiteratureEconomicsPsychologyBusiness Management andAdministrationGeneral BusinessPhilosophy and ReligiousStudiesCriminal Justice and FireProtectionAccountingAll other degreesThis jobTop 10 majorsEach major's top ten jobs
What college major is your best entry?

About 98% of people working as lawyers, and judges, magistrates, and similar judicial professionals have at least a bachelor's degree. Each dot represents a college major leading to these jobs, with the dots to the right representing the majors sending the most of their grads into this career. The dots at the top are the majors who earn the most working in this career.

Darker colors have a larger percentage with graduate degreesOverall median salary0.0%2.0%4.0%6.0%8.0%10.0%12.0%14.0%16.0%18.0%20.0%Percentage with this major$60,000$70,000$80,000$90,000$100,000$110,000$120,000$130,000$140,000Median salary with this major
Variation by state
State-by-state employment numbers

Some careers tend to be centered in specific parts of the country. For example, most jobs in fashion are in New York or California. Let's see if your dream job is easy to find in your dream location! We have a few choices for viewing the data that can help you get a full employment picture.

Job density versus job count

Which states hire the most lawyers? We wonder if that's a fair question since states come in all sizes, so instead let's start with the question of which states have the highest density of people working as lawyers. You can choose to view the number of jobs per state if you prefer.

BLS vs ACS data

This map defaults to employment information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which provides job totals carefully compiled for accuracy and with a primary focus on how employers describe their workers. The BLS job totals do not count self-employed workers. We've also compiled totals using the Census Bureau's American Community Survey (ACS) which are based on how workers describe themselves. Sometimes ACS results are quite a bit different from the employer-based BLS data.

One important factor in the differences between ACS and BLS data is that the ACS numbers are for all lawyers, and judges, magistrates, and similar judicial professionals, comprised of all specialities listed in the menu bar, and you can choose to view the BLS at the specialty or full career level.

Choose the metric to review
Jobs per 1000 working
Number of jobs
Use this data source
BLS for this specialty
Number of Lawyers per 1,000 workers (BLS)
Select a state to see local area details
AKMEWIVTNHWAIDMTNDMNILMINYMAORUTWYSDIAINOHPANJCTRICANVCONEMOKYWVVAMDDEAZNMKSARTNNCSCDCOKLAMSALGAHITXFLPR
0.010.020.030.040.050.0
Salaries by state
Let's get a feel for where lawyers earn the highest salaries. There are several choices for which data we consider and how we view that data, and each can lead to different conclusions, so please read on...
Median salary versus state ratio

We use two methods to compare salaries across states:

  • In-state comparisons: the ratio of median (middle) salaries for lawyers, and judges, magistrates, and similar judicial professionals compared to the median salary for all people working in each state, or
  • Median salary: the unaltered median salaries for lawyers, and judges, magistrates, and similar judicial professionals.

We hope the ratio allows perspective about how salaries may compare to the regional cost-of-living.

BLS vs ACS data

We have two sources for statewide salary information with important distinctions. The BLS data is created by surveying companies, missing individuals who are self-employed or work for smaller companies. The ACS data is compiled from multi-faceted household surveys and may reflect the inconsistencies that people may have in reporting information. The ACS salaries are for all lawyers, and judges, magistrates, and similar judicial professionals, which combines the specialities from which you can choose at the top of the page.

Choose the metric to review
Location-adjusted median salary
Median salary
Use this data source
BLS for this specialty
Location-adjusted median salary for Lawyers (BLS for this specialty)
The darkest shading corresponds to states in which lawyers earn the highest salary when compared to other jobs in the state. We think this ratio might be a better indicator than the actual salary for your buying power as a state resident.
Select a state to see local area details
AKMEWIVTNHWAIDMTNDMNILMINYMAORUTWYSDIAINOHPANJCTRICANVCONEMOKYWVVAMDDEAZNMKSARTNNCSCDCOKLAMSALGAHITXFLPR
$0$50K$100K$150K
Compare to similar jobs

If this job interests you, then use the tabs and education selector to find other careers that might be a good fit for you.

How should the career similarity be computed?

There are a number of ways to measure the similarity of jobs, here are a few we provide:

  • Interests: Also known as a Holland Code - Are you a thinker? A helper? What fits your personality?
  • Environment: Are there hazards? Will you be comfortable? Will it be stressful?
  • Knowledge: What do you need to know the most about?
  • Physical Abilities: Do you need to especially strong or coordinated?