16 of the Highest-Paying Legal Jobs: Careers for Lawyers

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated October 27, 2022

Published October 27, 2020

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A person seated at a desk uses a laptop and writes in a notebook.

If you plan on attending law school, you may wonder which legal jobs can offer you the ability to make the most money. While many analyze factors beyond compensation when choosing their legal specialization, estimated salary range can make a large impact on a career path. Knowing which legal jobs offer the highest salaries and what these jobs entail can ultimately help you make a more informed decision regarding your future after law school.

In this article, we list the benefits of pursuing a legal career and provide you with 16 of the highest-paying legal jobs, their primary duties and their national average salaries.

Why pursue a legal job?

While a legal career often provides you with a large paycheck, this field also offers several other benefits. Knowing these benefits can help you determine whether you find this career path worthwhile. Here are some of the benefits of pursuing a legal career:

  • Intellectually challenging: When you work in the legal field, you have to navigate the legal system, take on challenging cases, research complex matters and analyze both your cases and the law. Therefore, pursuing a legal profession provides you with an intellectually stimulating environment.

  • Fulfilling: When you have a legal job, you work with a variety of clients. Knowing you're pursuing justice and helping others resolve their legal problems can help you find fulfillment and give you the satisfaction of knowing you made a difference in their life.

  • Flexible: As a lawyer, you have the ability to set your own hours, choose your own clients and pick your own hours. This means you're better able to balance your personal life with your job, ultimately increasing your job satisfaction.

  • Diverse career options: The legal field provides many careers that serve various legal functions. From lawyers to mediators, you have the opportunity to follow the ever-evolving legal system and the various career paths so long as you meet a particular job's qualifications.

Related: 60 Alternative Jobs for Lawyers

16 highest-paying legal jobs

With high-paying legal jobs, you have many professions to consider. Apart from the job itself, consider that your salary also varies based on your location, your level of experience, the size of your practice and market demand. Here are some of the highest-paying legal jobs, their national average salaries and their primary duties.

For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, visit indeed.com/salaries.

1. Lawyer

National average salary: $51,436 per year

Primary duties: Lawyers represent their clients in a courtroom, before government agencies and in a variety of legal matters. They communicate with their clients and other parties involved in a case, including their colleagues and judges. Lawyers also conduct legal research, interpret laws and regulations and essentially provide legal advice to their clients.

Read more: Learn About Being a Lawyer

2. Mediator

National average salary: $62,191 per year

Primary duties: Mediators facilitate communication between two conflicting parties to help them reach a mutual understanding or resolution. They aim to make these resolutions timely, cost-effective and fair for all parties involved. While mediators don't decide on a particular resolution, they help the two parties understand the important issues at hand in order to reach a favorable resolution for everyone involved.

3. Immigration lawyer

National average salary: $66,670 per year

Primary duties: Immigration lawyers advise their clients, whether it's an individual or a business, on matters regarding visa applications, migration, political asylum citizenship, green cards, deportation problems and noncitizen employment. They also represent clients in United States Immigration Courts. They're often experts in immigration law and can make cases for legal immigration into a nation.

4. Judge

National average salary: $77,521 per year

Primary duties: Judges preside over legal actions in a courtroom. Their powers and functions vary depending on their jurisdiction. Judges conduct the trial impartially and keep order in the court. They also announce a person's sentence and interpret the meaning and implications of the law.

5. Managing partner

National average salary: $79,756 per year

Primary duties: Managing partners at a law firm establish and enforce policies and procedures. They implement various programs such as orientation, training and counseling programs at a law firm. Managing partners also create a law firm's organizational, financial and operational strategies, enforce ethical legal practices and prevent conflicts among specialty groups and service areas.

6. Counsel

National average salary: $84,797 per year

Primary duties: A counsel provides legal advice and guidance to individuals or organizations. They use their understanding of a company's objectives and strategies to advise them about risks and legal issues regarding management decisions. They work alongside a company's management team to create efficient defense strategies and monitor the company's compliance with various laws and regulations.

7. Intellectual property paralegal

National average salary: $85,849 per year

Primary duties: Working in the legal industry without a law degree, intellectual property paralegals deal with copyrights, patents and trademark law. They assist intellectual property attorneys and the work for their clients. They also create, revise and file patent documents and manage client communication.

8. Attorney

National average salary: $88,970 per year

Primary duties: An attorney's duties vary based on the type of law they practice. They typically advise their clients regarding litigation and explain various legal issues they're dealing with. Attorneys also perform research regarding legal cases, interpret case law and decisions from other courts, create case strategies, prepare pleadings and appear in court to defend their clients.

Read more: Learn About Being an Attorney

9. Contracts lawyer

National average salary: $103,233 per year

Primary duties: Contracts lawyers create and update legal contracts and other documents to fit a company's needs. They ensure these documents comply with both federal and state regulations and negotiate contract terms. They may help negotiate better deals for their clients or help during contract disputes.

10. Employment lawyer

National average salary: $115,125 per year

Primary duties: Employment lawyers manage and provide legal representation for labor-related legal matters. They work to resolve legal matters between an employer and their employees, such as matters regarding pay, workplace health and safety issues, pension disputes, contract disagreements and workplace discrimination.

11. Litigation lawyer

National average salary: $117,532 per year

Primary duties: Also known as litigators, litigation lawyers represent plaintiffs and defendants in a courtroom. They handle the entire litigation process including the investigation, pleadings, trial and settlement. Litigation lawyers consult with their clients, conduct pre-trial activities and, if a case doesn't reach a settlement in enough time, they represent their client in a trial.

12. Chief legal officer

National average salary: $122,516 per year

Primary duties: Chief legal officers use their legal expertise to help a company lower potential legal risks. They provide counsel to the company's other officers and board members on issues such as litigation risks. They essentially provide direction regarding any legal and regulatory issues. Chief legal officers also keep the company up-to-date on legal changes that could affect them.

13. Family lawyer

National average salary: $127,745 per year

Primary duties: Family lawyers manage legal problems between members of the same family. They offer legal advice regarding matters including divorce, adoption, emancipation and guardianship. Family lawyers also oversee family estates and monitor family mediation sessions.

14. General counsel

National average salary: $129,141 per year

Primary duties: A general counsel advises an organization's executive leaders and senior leadership on legal matters and laws. They manage the company's legal matters, draw up various agreements, such as employment agreements, and evaluate the input and impact caused by company decisions.

Read more: Learn About Being a General Counsel

15. Corporate lawyer

National average salary: $132,416 per year

Primary duties: Corporate lawyers ensure the legality of commercial transactions. They represent corporations and counsel a corporation's employees regarding their legal duties and their responsibilities. Corporate lawyers often specialize in a specific area of corporate law, such as mergers and acquisitions.

16. Patent attorney

National average salary: $140,828 per year

Primary duties: Patent attorneys use their intellectual property law expertise to protect an investor's property rights. They lead their clients through the process of securing a patent and help enforce their rights if infringed. They may have extensive knowledge of the requirements to get a patent and the repercussions for infringing upon one.

Explore more articles