15 Types of Lawyers: Roles, Duties and Earning Potential
By Indeed Editorial Team
Updated July 1, 2022 | Published February 25, 2020
Updated July 1, 2022
Published February 25, 2020
This article has been approved by an Indeed Career Coach
A conference table is seen with an open laptop and cup of coffee, with gray columns on the right, a wooden shelf filled with books toward the back and a stone floor.
Preparing for a future as a lawyer requires a full understanding of legal terminology and law-related careers. By gaining a strong understanding of what careers the legal field offers, you can find the career path that best suits your qualifications.
In this article, we define and differentiate between the different types of lawyers and provide you with 15 profiles of careers in law you can pursue with average salary and responsibilities information for each.
What are the different types of lawyers?
A lawyer is someone working within the legal system that can assist in and provide advice on the law to clients on legal proceedings and legal issues. Paralegals act as assistants to lawyers or attorneys and serve as entry-level opportunities to learn more about the legal field. The titles of lawyer, attorney and counsel are sometimes used interchangeably, but there are a few differences between these three types of lawyers.
Lawyers are employed in law firms or private practices and usually advise clients about their legal issues and how to move forward.
Attorneys consult with clients like lawyers do, but are much more likely to go beyond the initial consultation and represent the client in courtroom proceedings.
Counsels are lawyers who are employed by a company or organization. Not being employed at a law firm, counsels act solely on behalf of that company or organization.
These three lawyer titles present unique work opportunities and distinct salary differences to those who hold them.
Related: Learn About Being a Lawyer
15 types of lawyer Jobs
The following list will review different types of lawyers and other law-related careers, their responsibilities and salary expectations.
National average salary: $78,510 per year
Primary duties: An associate attorney is an entry-level role, usually employed at law firms. They assist in selecting juries, represent clients in court, help clients negotiate contracts or settle corporate disputes. Associate Attorneys can be employed in different types of law, including corporate, real estate, family, and copyright cases.
National average salary: $85,913 per year
Primary duties: An associate general counsel is a type of lawyer who represents an individual client or organization in court, advises them on potential legal actions that could result from malpractice and works with a team, usually through a law firm, to build a strong case that will be used to represent a client in the courtroom.
National average salary: $54,767 per year
Primary duties: Bankruptcy paralegals assist bankruptcy lawyers in providing clients with advice on their financial situation, if they are eligible to file for bankruptcy, what type of bankruptcy would be the most helpful for them, and provide information on how to file for bankruptcy.
National average salary: $108,771 per hour
Primary duties: A contracts lawyer helps individual clients or businesses with problems relating to contracts. They provide advice from a legal standpoint on whether or not to agree to and sign a contract, or can help a client figure out how to combat a contract that they have already signed.
National average salary: $132,786 per hour
Primary duties: A corporate lawyer works for a company, advising executives against business decisions that could lead to legal action and representing the company in when legal action is taken against them. They are also responsible for using their expertise to create and edit corporate contracts to ensure they are not breaking any laws.
National average salary: $135,843 per year
Primary duties: A corporate attorney works on behalf of a company, advising executives on the best practices to implement within the company to prevent legal trouble. They might help create documents, file reports, and read through employee handbooks to make sure there are clear guidelines in place. A corporate attorney can also represent a company in the courtroom.
National average salary: $117,877 per year
Primary duties: An employment lawyer can be hired to help a company that's having trouble with an employee or to help an employee who is having trouble with their company. They are usually called upon to help settle disputes in employee contracts or defend a client who accuses their company of maltreatment.
National average salary: $129,194 per year
Primary duties: A family lawyer can be employed to help clients in several family-related matters. They are involved in defending a client in divorce proceedings, child custody battles or child support claims.
National average salary: $50,797 per year
Primary duties: A general practice lawyer does not have a particular area of expertise and instead consults with, and defends clients on a variety of legal issues and proceedings. This type of lawyer can have specialized interests but can handle other projects as well.
National average salary: $66,891 per year
Primary duties: Immigration lawyers help clients who are having trouble obtaining green cards, visas or citizenship documentation. They can also be employed when there are issues with a client's current documentation or in a situation where an individual is seeking asylum from another country.
National average salary: $84,952 per year
Primary duties: An intellectual property lawyer is hired to help an individual client or company on issues related to intellectual property rights and trademarks. They can consult with a client who believes someone has used their intellectual property without obtaining proper copyrights, or they can be hired to help someone who wants to use the intellectual property or trademark belonging to a company.
National average salary: $101,002 per year
Primary duties: A litigation attorney or lawyer is hired to help in civil lawsuits, either on the side of the defendant or the plaintiff party. Their job is to guide their client through pre-, peri- and post-trial events, defending their case, setting plea deals or arranging appeals.
National average salary: $53,269 per year
Primary duties: A litigation paralegal is responsible for helping trial attorneys prepare for courtroom proceedings. They draft documents, complete administrative tasks, interview witnesses and conduct additional research ahead of the trial.
National average salary: $91,422 per year
Primary duties: A personal injury lawyer is responsible for helping clients who have sustained injuries, whether it be through a car accident or an injury acquired on a company's property. They plead their case to help a client get compensation for their injury.
National average salary: $73,565 per year
Primary duties: A trademark paralegal works for a trademark attorney and is responsible for helping clients file claims for names and logos. They are responsible for assisting trademark attorneys in the creation of courtroom cases against an individual or company who stole a trademark from their client.
For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, click on the link(s) provided.
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