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Legal Salary Expectations

Legal Salary Expectations

One of the major reasons that people consider a career in law is the high earning potential possible in the legal field. While one must keep salary expectations in check, lawyers consistently rank in the top ten among professions for average yearly salaries. The type of law practiced, and the type of employer and the business sector has a large impact on the salary earned, but no matter what, lawyers remain among the most well-paid of all professions in the United States.

Salaries Overall

The last comprehensive statistics available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics on salaries for attorneys were taken in May of 2008. At that time, the median wages of all salaried lawyers and lawyers working on hourly wages totaled $110,590. The occupation’s middle half earned between $74,980 and $163,320.

The highest-paid sector for attorneys-at-law were those in management of corporations, companies and other enterprises, averaging $145,770. Lawyers in the Federal government’s executive branch came in next, averaging $126,080. The legal services field (what many think of when they think of “lawyers”) netted attorneys on average $116,550. Lawyers working in local government averaged $82,590 while those in state government came in slightly below that number averaging $78,540.

Be sure to take note that these are averages for all lawyers, not those just starting out in the field. Statistics for recent law school graduates in their first legal jobs are to follow.

Recent Law School Graduate Expectations

The average salary for attorneys nine months after graduation from law school at the time of the most recent comprehensive Bureau of Labor Statistics study was $68,500. While this was the average for all graduates, attorneys working for private practices right out of law school earned far more than that, averaging $108,500. Those recent graduates working academic or judicial clerkships brought in the low end of the spectrum, averaging $48,000 a year in salary, while those in business and government were in the middle, at $69,000 and $50,000 respectively.

The best bet for the highest earning potential is, of course, to obtain a job with a successful private practice. Competition for these jobs is stiff, however, so keeping salary requirements reasonable when leaving law school is essential to making the most of the opportunities before you.


Salary expectations for the legal profession are something that aspiring law students should take into account. For more information about the education necessary to becoming a lawyer at Abraham Lincoln University, or call Admissions at (866) 558-0999.


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