11 of the Highest-Paying Lawyer Roles (With Salary Info)
Updated July 31, 2023
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Careers in law encompass a wide range of roles for attorneys and lawyers, from jobs in corporate and business law to family and medical law. Additionally, there are several career fields in law that provide higher salaries than others. Learning about high-paying jobs for lawyers can help you determine which career path is right for you.
In this article, we explore 11 of the highest-paying lawyers' jobs, including their primary duties and national average salaries.
Specialized fields for lawyers
When pursuing a career in law, there are many focuses to consider. For instance, corporate lawyers provide legal support to large companies and organizations while family law attorneys work with clients in divorce, custody and adoption cases. Other fields of law you can specialize in as an attorney include:
Corporate and business law
Legal management and administration
Civil, human and animal rights
Auto accidents and injury
Family and divorce law
Estate and probate law
Real estate law
Employment and labor law
Factors that affect lawyers' salaries
Some fields of law provide a higher earning potential than others. Additionally, your experience practicing law and your education level can affect how much you make as an attorney. Another important factor is where you live. Some areas have a higher demand for specialized attorneys and may offer higher salaries than what you'd find in other areas.
For instance, some metropolitan areas may have a higher earning potential for attorneys in corporate, civil and family law than more rural or less populated areas. There are also some types of lawyers who earn higher salaries due to the specialized nature of the field of law they practice.
11 of the highest-paying lawyers
National average salary: $67,296 per year
Primary duties: An immigration lawyer gives legal assistance to people who want to live, work or study in another country. Immigration lawyers provide their clients with guidance and advice concerning immigration matters like green cards, visa applications, naturalization and citizenship or deportation and employment for foreign citizens. Many immigration attorneys also handle cases involving immigration as it relates to criminal laws.
Read more: Learn About Being a Lawyer
National average salary: $83,580 per year
Primary duties: Employment law associates, or employment and labor lawyers, work with both employers and employees to provide support and counsel on state and federal employment laws. They typically help employers ensure that workplaces comply with employment laws and that all employees receive fair and consistent treatment. Employment law associates can also represent employees in discrimination cases.
National average salary: $89,686 per year
Primary duties: A personal injury lawyer helps prepare legal documents for personal injury cases for either the plaintiff or defendant. Their work mostly involves client interaction and investigation to determine what exactly happened in a case. They typically interview clients, gather medical records, collect insurance information and documents from defendants and assist in organizing and preparing settlement demands.
National average salary: $101,177 per year
Primary duties: Civil litigation attorneys commonly work with small claims and civil dispute cases to either defend against or sue companies or individuals. Civil litigation attorneys meet with and collect information and documentation from clients, whether plaintiffs or defendants. They also prepare court and trial documents, draft pleadings and enter pleas. In serious cases, litigation attorneys may also appear in court to testify on behalf of their clients.
Read more: Learn About Being an Attorney
National average salary: $105,938 per year
Primary duties: Real estate attorneys assist clients in cases involving real estate and property transactions. This type of attorney may focus on either residential or commercial real estate. A real estate attorney creates legal documents, reviews sales transactions and performs other research for their cases. They may also engage in litigation, taking part in hearings and a trial.
National average salary: $119,583 per year
Primary duties: Intellectual property (IP) or patent attorneys work with clients to assist them with patenting or trademarking their works. IP attorneys provide legal counsel on how to apply for and enforce trademarks, copyrights, patents and other licensing that signifies ownership of intellectual property. Additionally, IP attorneys assist clients with applying for patents, trademarks and copyrights and help protect these assets legally should someone infringe upon their clients' intellectual properties.
National average salary: $125,048 per year
Primary duties: Bankruptcy lawyers work in public agencies, corporations and lending institutions where they prepare and file proofs of claims on behalf of their clients, which are typically companies filing for bankruptcy. They understand financial laws and regulations regarding bankruptcy claims and help prepare financial documents, claim applications and other documents for bankruptcy cases. They also analyze the financial information of a company and make projections, such as how much money a company will make in the future, how much it makes now and what type of bankruptcy is beneficial for the client.
National average salary: $128,809 per year
Primary duties: Family lawyers work on child custody, divorce, social services, adoption and tax and finance law cases. They often meet with and interview clients, collect documentation from individuals involved in domestic disputes and organize paperwork and documents in divorce or child custody cases. Family lawyers may also go to court and argue cases before a judge.
9. Tax attorney
National average salary: $134,322 per year
Primary duties: Tax attorneys specialize in tax law and help their clients navigate tax situations and remain in compliance with the law. A tax attorney may research tax laws, write legal documents and guide clients in resolving tax-related legal issues, such as unfiled returns. They can also represent clients in court for legal disputes and negotiate compromises with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for their clients.
National average salary: $137,364 per year
Primary duties: Corporate attorneys work with and represent large companies and organizations. They’re responsible for drafting legal documents, structuring transactions, negotiating business deals and ensuring agreement provisions, policies and legal compliance are unambiguous and consistent. Corporate attorneys ensure that companies' operations comply with related laws and regulations and that the implementation of certain business practices is within legal parameters.
11. Patent attorney
National average salary: $143,492 per year
Primary duties: Patent attorneys deal with the processes and legal implications surrounding patenting intellectual property. Typically, patent attorneys help inventors prepare, file and submit their patent applications. If another individual or entity tries to infringe upon a patent attorney's client's patent, the attorney assists the client in raising a lawsuit against them.
For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, click on the link(s) provided.
Frequently asked questions
Which states pay lawyers the highest salaries?
According to information from Indeed Salaries, lawyers in California earn the highest average salary, at $111,371 per year. Lawyers in Texas also earn a high average salary, at $106,152 per year. When searching for lawyer positions, it's beneficial to consider both statewide salary data and national data. For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, click on the links provided.
How do I decide which type of law is right for me?
While in law school, meet with your professors and asking them about the different areas of law that interest you the most. You might also network with practicing lawyers to learn more about the different specialties and gain valuable insights.
What are some alternative high-paying positions in the legal field?
Here are a few roles in the legal profession that pay salaries over $60,000 per year. For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, visit indeed.com/salaries.
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