Did you know that, as of 2022, there are about 1.33 million lawyers in the US?
America has more lawyers than any other country in the world, and it’s expected to stay this way for at least a while longer. Namely, the demand for lawyers is expected to rise by 10% between 2021 and 2031.
With this in mind, you may be curious about how much money lawyers make on average and whether it’s money that attracts such a huge number of people to this profession.
Here’s all you need to know.
How Much Do Lawyers Make in the US?
Lawyers in the US earn a median salary of $127,990 per year. The highest average salaries are paid to:
- patent and intellectual property (IP) attorneys ($143,492 per year)
- corporate attorneys ($137,364)
- tax lawyers ($134,322)
- litigators ($131,554)
On the other hand, associate lawyers are some of the lowest-paid professionals in this field, with a median salary of $88,400 per year.
10 Facts About the Average Lawyers’ Salary in the US
Now that you know the basics, here’s how much US lawyers make on average, based on their field of law:
1. The median salary of a lawyer with a doctoral or professional degree in the US was $127,990 in 2021.
This translates to $61.54 per hour.
While most lawyers are employed in private or corporate legal offices, they can also work for government agencies at the federal, local, and state levels.
2. The District of Columbia, New York, and California were the top three highest-paying states for lawyers in 2021.
According to the BLS lawyers‘ data, the District of Columbia paid the highest annual mean wage for lawyers in 2021 — $198,820. New York was next, with an annual mean wage of $179,060, followed by California, where lawyers earned an annual mean wage of $176,610.
3. The average corporate lawyer‘s salary in the US amounts to $107,583 per year.
Corporate lawyers typically work for large companies and help them with legal matters relating to their businesses. Their duties may include researching and writing legal documents and advising clients on legal issues.
4. On average, an immigration attorney‘s salary is $86,812 per year.
Immigration attorneys help immigrants with the process of moving to another country. This can include helping immigrants fill out paperwork, preparing for interviews, and representing them in court.
5. Criminal defense lawyers can make up to $108,552 per year.
Criminal defense lawyers represent and defend individuals who have been accused of committing a crime. In the US, they typically make between $80,637 and $108,552 per year, the average salary being $94,345.
However, if you want to make really big bucks, you might want to consider becoming a criminal defense lawyer in Switzerland. The median yearly income for criminal defense lawyers there is $260,739.
6. US litigators make between $122,582 and $139,229 a year.
On average, this translates to $131,554 per year.
A litigator‘s salary varies based on experience, certifications, education, and location. On that note, litigators in California will earn more money compared to those in Florida ($146,946 vs. $124,976).
A litigator is a lawyer who specializes in resolving disputes through the litigation process. This involves taking legal action against individuals, groups, or businesses.
7. The associate attorney (law firm) salary ranges between $75,360 and $102,257 per year.
A law firm usually employs an associate attorney to help more experienced partner attorneys give legal advice to clients.
The primary responsibilities of an associate attorney include appearing in court proceedings, preparing legal documents, and conducting legal research.
The median annual salary for associate attorneys in the US is $88,400, or about $42 per hour.
8. Finance lawyers earn an average of $82,352 per year.
A financial lawyer’s salary ranges from $15,796 to $419,830. Those who fall in the middle earn between $76,350 and $190,212.
Finance lawyers negotiate the contract terms of loans on behalf of borrowers (individuals or companies) or lenders (usually banks).
9. Patent attorneys have the highest average salaries — $144,205 per year.
(ZipRecruiter) (FVF Law)
Patent attorneys are the highest–paid lawyers in the US. They make a six-figure salary — an average of $144,205 per year.
While most salaries fall between $95,500 and $184,000, those in the top 10% can earn up to $214,000 per year.
A patent attorney’s duty is to help their client or employer receive a patent. The patent process involves creating a description of the invention and corresponding arguments for why it’s eligible for patent protection.
10. The average annual salary for a workers‘ compensation attorney is $62,735.
Their salary ranges from $56,580 to $70,850.
A workers’ compensation lawyer helps injured employees get the benefits they’re entitled to, including medical care and wage replacement.
In addition to assisting victims with communication and paperwork, they offer advice on navigating confusing legal processes. Most of them work on a contingency basis, meaning they only get paid if their client wins their case.
As you can see, there are many different types of lawyers, and their salaries can vary greatly. While lawyers in the US generally make a median salary of $127,990, those working in patent law earn significantly more — up to $214,000.
Keep in mind that the salary also depends on the lawyer’s experience in the field, education, and location.
How much do lawyers make in 2022 (on average)?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, US lawyers have a median pay of $127,990 per year (as of May 2021).
Out of all the states, lawyers in the District of Columbia make the most money on average — $198,820, followed by those working in New York ($179,060) and California ($176,610).
What are the highest–paid lawyers?
In the US, patent and intellectual property attorneys have the highest average salaries (about $143,492 per year), followed by corporate attorneys ($137,364 per year), tax attorneys ($134,322 per year), and litigators ($131,554).
At what age do lawyers retire?
There’s no set retirement age for lawyers in the US. While they can technically retire at any age, it’s recommended that they do so by 70 or 75 since their jobs can be both mentally and physically demanding, which can lead to burnout.
The average retirement age for lawyers will also depend on their state of residence and whether their firm has policies mandating retirement.