Law Career Outlook (With Employment Prospects and Salaries)
Updated July 23, 2023
If you're interested in becoming a lawyer, you might wonder what the profession's employment outlook is. Understanding your job prospects can help you determine if it's the right career for you and plan to apply at the appropriate organizations.
In this article, we discuss the law career outlook, look at some high-demand settings and specialties and review the profession's average salary per state and the work environment.
What is the current law career outlook?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts the overall employment of lawyers to increase by 10% from 2021 to 2031. This rate is faster than the average for all occupations and translates to an average of 48,700 openings for lawyers each year over the next decade. The demand is largely due to the need to replace lawyers that transfer to different occupations or exit the workforce.
The BLS also predicts the overall employment in all legal occupations to grow by 10% from 2021 to 2031. The field may experience about 110,000 openings each year because of growth and replacement needs. Legal occupations encompass jobs that involve the interpretation of the law and the support of law-related activities. Examples of legal occupations include arbitrators, court reporters, judges and paralegals.
High-demand settings for lawyers
Here's an overview of the high-demand settings for lawyers to help you find a role that suits your skills:
The BLS reports that law firms are among the most prominent employers of lawyers. Recent graduates often find jobs as associates, which are entry-level attorneys. As they gain experience, they can pursue more advanced roles such as a senior associate or partner. The retirement of long-term lawyers and evolving client bases may affect the job openings available within law firms.
In-house legal departments
While some corporations outsource their legal needs, others create in-house legal departments to reduce costs and streamline legal processes. This career path may allow you to focus on specific projects and contribute to an organization's long-term success rather than managing multiple clients at once. Organizations that often hire in-house lawyers include:
Financial and insurance companies
Health care facilities
Many government agencies hire lawyers to help them implement legal policies, manage individual cases or advocate for specific legislation. Lawyers in this field often work in court systems, where they serve as prosecutors or public defense attorneys for a local jurisdiction or a state or federal government. These attorneys oversee civil and criminal cases on behalf of the government.
Lawyers who want to work for themselves may establish independent practices. You might use your specialized skills in health care or family law to deliver in-demand legal services to certain areas. Opening an independent practice requires not only legal expertise but also skills related to finance, entrepreneurship and marketing.
High-demand legal specialties
Lawyers can further improve their job prospects by pursuing one of these high-demand legal specialties:
Real estate law
Immigration and naturalization law
Intellectual property law
Average salary for lawyers
The national average salary for lawyers is $95,950 per year, but the amount you earn can vary based on factors like education, experience, specialty and work environment. Lawyers also earn different amounts based on their geographic location, so consider these average salaries by state:
For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, visit indeed.com/salaries.
Alabama: $95,397 per year
Alaska: $52,435 per year
Arizona: $76,180 per year
Arkansas: $57,966 per year
California: $113,698 per year
Colorado: $106,476 per year
Connecticut: $70,039 per year
Delaware: $85,594 per year
District of Columbia: $107,428 per year
Florida: $101,942 per year
Georgia: $94,670 per year
Hawaii: $50,746 per year
Idaho: $87,857 per year
Illinois: $66,711 per year
Indiana: $97,691 per year
Iowa: $32,874 per year
Kansas: $69,528 per year
Kentucky: $84,184 per year
Louisiana: $81,910 per year
Maine: $117,565 per year
Maryland: $71,469 per year
Massachusetts: $108,947 per year
Michigan: $55,282 per year
Minnesota: $86,692 per year
Mississippi: $58,499 per year
Missouri: $77,464 per year
Montana: $98,916 per year
Nebraska: $96,212 per year
Nevada: $104,331 per year
New Hampshire: $50,488 per year
New Jersey: $77,267 per year
New Mexico: $77,297 per year
New York: $119,962 per year
North Carolina: $70,904 per year
North Dakota: $50,015 per year
Ohio: $82,041 per year
Oklahoma: $35,374 per year
Oregon: $191,978 per year
Pennsylvania: $92,845 per year
Rhode Island: $69,968 per year
South Carolina: $93,892 per year
South Dakota: $48,179 per year
Tennessee: $91,265 per year
Texas: $106,526 per year
Utah: $234,085 per year
Vermont: $49,339 per year
Virginia: $68,916 per year
Washington: $96,210 per year
West Virginia: $132,545 per year
Wisconsin: $58,863 per year
Wyoming: $91,166 per year
Work environment for lawyers
A lawyer typically holds a full-time position and may work more than 40 hours per week to conduct research, review documents and prepare for legal cases. Lawyers typically perform their duties in offices, though some travel to attend meetings with clients in their homes or at hospitals or prisons. A law career typically requires interaction with clients, judges and other lawyers and may put individuals in high-stress situations.
Frequently asked questions
Is it worth it to become a lawyer?
Deciding whether becoming a lawyer is worth it for you depends on your personal and professional goals. The process is lengthy and may involve a significant investment, but many lawyers earn salaries that allow them to pay back loans and live according to their preferred lifestyles. Lawyers also appreciate the chance to support clients in legal matters and apply skills like communication, research and analytical thinking.
What's the required education for a lawyer?
Individuals pursuing a career as a lawyer typically spend at least seven years gaining the required education for the role. They start by earning a bachelor's degree in any field, but many pursue majors like history, business, political science or economics. These degree fields can provide you with a foundational education that can help you prepare for law school. You can also gain experience by completing internships as you pursue your undergraduate degree.
After you receive your bachelor's, you can apply to a law school program. These programs take about three years to complete and result in a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree. A J.D. signifies that you completed law school, but it doesn't allow you to practice law. You can become a practicing lawyer by passing the bar exam in your state and applying for jobs at law firms or corporations.
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