15 Types of Lawyers: Roles, Duties and Earning Potential

Updated July 31, 2023

Title: Types of Lawyers
The image is split into four equal quadrants, the upper left shows a woman carrying a purse and laptop with the text "An associate attorney is an entry-level role." The upper right shows a woman shaking hands with two other people in front of her and the text "Family lawyers deal with issues like divorces and child custody battles." The bottom left shows a man working at a laptop, with the text "Corporate lawyers advise and represent executives." The bottom right shows a woman presenting a graph and the text reads, "Employment lawyers are hired to represent companies or employees."

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.

1. Associate attorney

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.

2. Associate general counsel

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.

3. Bankruptcy paralegal

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.

4. Contracts lawyer

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.

5. Corporate lawyer

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.

6. Corporate attorney

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.

7. Employment lawyer

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.

8. Family lawyer

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.

9. General practice lawyer

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.

10. Immigration lawyer

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.

11. Intellectual property lawyer

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.

12. Litigation attorney

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.

13. Litigation paralegal

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.

14. Personal injury lawyer

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.

15. Trademark paralegal

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.


Related Articles

The Top 10 Reasons To Be a Criminal Defense Attorney

Explore more articles

  • How To Become a Marine Electrician
  • How To Get a Corporate Job Without a Degree (Plus Tips)
  • 10 Pros and Cons of Being an Aircraft Mechanic
  • What To Do If You Aren't Hearing Back From Employers
  • 21 Alternative Jobs for Physical Therapists
  • 9 Jobs for Engineers Seeking a Career Change (Plus Tips)
  • 9 Pros and Cons of Being a Dietitian
  • 15 Jobs You Can Pursue at a Nightclub (With Responsibilities)
  • FAQ: What Degree Does an Ultrasound Tech Need?
  • Dental Hygienist Requirements: Which Degree Do You Need?
  • How To Become a Professor of Medicine
  • Why Is an Internship Important? 12 Reasons To Consider