All societies are confined at some level by regulations and laws. Lawyers provide representation and counsel within these systems, ensuring that government agencies, businesses, and individuals, remain accountable to each other. Attorneys may make above-average salaries; however, slowing job growth and high student debt loads can make it challenging for some fresh graduates to make a full-time earning practicing law.
Attorneys provide representation and advice on legal issues. They may represent businesses, work for individual clients, or work for government departments or agencies. Typical job tasks for lawyers include the following:
- Provide legal advice.
- Write letters or make phone calls regarding legal matters on behalf of clients.
- Serve as a liaison between other attorneys and a client.
- Investigate legal and civil cases.
- Doing legal research.
- Draft legal documents and other contracts.
- Represent a client in administrative or court hearings.
- Represent government agencies in civil matters.
- Prosecute criminal defendants.
Many states require probable lawyers to complete an accredited, approved, law school program that leads to a J.D. (Juris Doctor) degree. This generally requires 3 years of full-time study. In many cases, an applicant will need to have completed a bachelor’s degree by the time she or he starts law school.
After graduating from law school, an applicant must pass his state bar exam and apply to the SBA (state bar association). The B.A. (Bar Association) uses application information to determine whether the applicant has the ability and character to practice law. If the bar association approves, the applicant is inducted to the bar and practices as a lawyer.
According to the United States DOL (Department of Labor’s) BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics), the annual median salary for an attorney in May 2019 was $122,960. This means that fifty percent of attorneys earned more money than $118,160, and fifty percent earned less. This comes down to median hourly pay of $59.11 per hour.
Bar Associations evaluate at more than just educational excellence when approving an application. According to the BLS, individuals who have substance abuse problems, documented character defects, or criminal histories can have difficulty being inducted to the bar. If you are anxious about whether past actions will impact your chance to become a lawyer, you can wish to discuss your concerns with a law school admissions officer or an attorney. In some cases, it can be possible for you to use a law degree in another career. Still, it is good to have an idea of what to expect during the bar application process to redirect your career direction if necessary quickly.
Many lawyers work full time, and it is not unusual for their average workweeks to exceed 40 hours. In some cases, lawyers may work weekends and evenings. Lawyers generally work in offices but may need to commute to prisons, courthouses, or other attorneys’ offices.
How Much Do Lawyers Make
Lawyers can expect to make more as they gain experience. A survey by PayScale.com demonstrated the following correlation between annual median wage and years on the job(1):
- 0-5 years: $72,196
- 5-10 years: $95,752
- 10-20 years: $109,975
- 20+ years: $126,807
Careers in Europe: An entry-level Attorney / Lawyer with less than one year experience can expect to make an average total remuneration (includes bonus, tips, and overtime pay) of £44,764. An early career Attorney / Lawyer with 1-5 years of experience makes an average total compensation of £40,327. A mid-career Attorney / Lawyer with 5-10 years of experience makes an average total compensation of £53,062. An experienced Attorney / Lawyer with 10-20 years of experience makes an average total compensation of £53,692. In their late-career (20-plus years), employees make an average total compensation of £70,000.
Careers in Asia: An entry-level Attorney / Lawyer with less than one year experience can expect to make an average total compensation (includes bonus, tips, and overtime pay) of S$5,000. An early career Attorney / Lawyer with 1-5 years of experience makes an average total remuneration of S$61,042. A mid-career Attorney / Lawyer with 5-10 years of experience makes an average total compensation of S$120,000. In their late-career (20-plus years), employees earn an average total remuneration of S$186,000.
According to the BLS, employment for lawyers is predicted to grow by eight percent between 2016 and 2026. This job growth is considered average and can be the result of legal services consumers and law firms’ attempts to save money on legal costs by delegating some tasks to offshore legal services, secretaries, and paralegals.