How much do lawyers earn?

The answer to the question of how much lawyers make is not as straightforward as you might think. As with any profession, the city you work in will affect how much you can expect to earn. For example, an entry-level Deputy Public Defender in San Francisco earns $ 90,000.00 per year. However, an attorney doing the same job in Madera, CA, earns about $ 45,000.00 per year.

Another factor that affects a lawyer’s income is the type of law he or she exercises. Attorneys who practice patent law can earn $ 265,000 per year. Corporate attorneys and attorneys who specialize in mergers and acquisitions often make $ 750,000 a year without being partners. Criminal defense attorneys, family law attorneys, and government attorneys general earn much less than the salaries listed above.

The size of the firm that an attorney works for affects how much the attorney earns. One of the largest law firms in the world is DLA Piper, their first-year associates start at $ 160,000 per year. First-year associates practicing the same type of law in a small business should expect approximately $ 95,000 per year. Your position within the firm also affects your salary. I have my own small firm, and yet I have had years where my income was like that of a corporate attorney. Capital partners of large companies typically earn millions of dollars a year.

Finally, another factor that consistently affects earnings is how long a lawyer has been in practice. Even deputy public defenders who can start with a salary of $ 50,000 per year can earn $ 135,000 per year after serving for ten years.

Here are some general figures by practice area:

Corporate Law, Mergers and Acquisitions ………………………….. $ 128,000

Real estate, litigation, appeals …………………………………….. $ 103,000

Personal injury and wrongful death …………………………………. $ 93,000

General law, criminal law ……………………………………… …….. $ 83,000

Family Law ………………………………………… ………………………. $ 78,000

These figures are in agreement with Salary.com’s 2011 report on attorney pay and my own knowledge of friends and colleagues.

You may be tempted to say that all attorneys should drop out of law school and work for the largest firm that will hire them and practice corporate law, that way they can earn the most money. One of the reasons all lawyers don’t do it is because all lawyers can’t. Those big firms usually hire students from the best law schools and even then, some only hire from the best of the best law schools. Anyone who didn’t go to a top law school, or those who did go to a top law school but didn’t graduate to the top of their class, can’t work for those big money-paying law firms.

The richest lawyers in the country did not earn their fortune practicing law, most of them would never have amassed fortunes if they had engaged in corporate law and stayed there until they retired. Samuel Zell started out as a lawyer, but amassed his $ 4.4 billion fortune in the real estate business. Robert Ziff built his net worth of $ 4 billion in hedge funds.

The main reason a new attorney should not pursue the highest paying job is because passion is what matters most. Those attorneys who do what they are passionate about are more likely to be successful. There is no better proof of this than Joe Jamail. Mr. Jamail is a Texas attorney and a billionaire. Mr. Jamail made his fortune practicing law, which is unusual because most attorneys who become billionaires do not do so practicing law. Mr. Jamail amassed that fortune with passion, energy and determination. If Mr. Jamail had not enjoyed practicing law, there would be no way he would have been so successful.

Now that you have an idea of ​​how much lawyers make, you can take the next step. Earn your college degree, or if you have a four-year degree, you can apply to law school. If you are in law school, study hard and master the material so that you can be passionate about the practice of law.

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