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How Much Do Lawyers Make? The Ultimate List in 2024

How much do lawyers make?

You’ve come to the right place. In today’s post, we’ll cover how much lawyers make, the best-paying specialties, states, cities, and more.

Read on!

How much do lawyers make? 

As of 2024, lawyers in the U.S. earn an average yearly salary of $163,770. That’s a total of $13,647.50 per month.

It’s worth noting that a few things factor into a lawyer’s salary, such as the type and size of a law firm. 

For instance, the median salary for entry-level attorneys at small firms (50 lawyers or less) was $85,000 in 2021. In practices with 51 to 100 lawyers, it increased to $127,500.

Lawyers at private firms also make more than those who work in the public sector.

Some large firms in major cities offer $215,000 starting salaries – that’s more than double the median salaries of some public service attorneys with 15 years of experience.

For instance, here is the average salary at biglaw firms, based on years after the associate left law school: 

ClassSalaryAnnual BonusTotal Compensation
1st Year$215,000$20,000$235,000
2nd Year$225,000$30,000$255,000
3rd Year$250,000$57,500$307,500
4th Year$295,000$75,000$370,000
5th Year$345,000$90,000$435,000
6th Year$370,000$105,000$475,000
7th Year$400,000$115,000$515,000
8th Year$415,000$115,000$530,000

Source: Biglaw Investor

And this chart shows salary by industry: 

Industry Average Salary
Civil legal services (legal aid)$68,000
Public interest organizations (non-profits)$79,000
State government $103,390
Local government $124,010
Federal government $152,700
Legal services (law firm) $166,640
Management of companies and enterprises (in-house counsel for example)$227,050

Sources: Bureau of Labor StatisticsNational Association for Law Placement 

As you can see, there’s a big difference between private and public careers. 

Now that we’ve discussed the average lawyer’s salary, let’s explore which specialties have the highest average salaries.

Best paying specialties for lawyers 

Here are the top 10 highest-paying specialties for lawyers and their average salaries:

  1. Patent attorney ($143,492)
  2. Corporate attorney ($137,364)
  3. Tax attorney ($134,322)
  4. Family lawyer ($128,809)
  5. Bankruptcy lawyer ($125,048)
  6. Intellectual property lawyer ($119,583)
  7. Real estate attorney ($105,938)
  8. Civil litigation attorney ($101,177)
  9. Personal injury lawyer ($89,686)
  10. Employment law associate ($83,580)

If you want to find out where lawyers are paid the most, keep reading!

Highest paid states for lawyers 

These are the top 10 states where lawyers are paid the most, plus their average salaries:

  1. California ($201,530)
  2. Massachusetts ($196,230)
  3. New York ($188,900)
  4. Connecticut ($174,520)
  5. Colorado ($168,680)
  6. Nevada ($166,740)
  7. Texas ($166,620)
  8. Georgia ($165,560)
  9. New Jersey ($163,690)
  10. Minnesota ($163,480)

Read on to find out which cities the highest-paid lawyers are living in.

Highest paid cities for lawyers 

Here is a ranking of the top 10 cities where lawyers are paid the most, plus their average salaries:

  1. Bolinas, California ($132,162)
  2. San Francisco, California ($127,722)
  3. Fremont, California ($123,180)
  4. San Jose, California ($122,663)
  5. Inverness, California ($122,017)
  6. Oakland, California ($121,002)
  7. Antioch, California ($118,506)
  8. Lebanon, New Hampshire ($117,757)
  9. New York, New York ($117,440)
  10. Hayward, California ($117,174)

Now, let’s take a look at the average salary for lawyers in each state.

Lawyer salary levels by state 

Here’s a full breakdown of the average lawyer salary in every state, with California, Massachusetts, and New York at the top, and Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana at the bottom. 

Alabama: $138,250

Alaska: $120,590

Arizona: $144,890

Arkansas: $116,730

California: $201,530

Colorado: $168,680

Connecticut: $174,520

Delaware: $96,090

Florida: $135,840

Georgia: $165,560

Hawaii: $106,520

Idaho: $96,810

Illinois: $158,030

Indiana: $143,060

Iowa: $117,500

Kansas: $115,860

Kentucky: $99,840

Louisiana: $127,150

Maine: $102,060

Maryland: $158,150

Massachusetts: $196,230

Michigan: $127,030

Minnesota: $163,480

Mississippi: $101,240

Missouri: $138,680

Montana: $98,170

Nebraska: $119,310

Nevada: $166,740

New Hampshire: $130,130

New Jersey: $163,690

New Mexico: $110,970

New York: $188,900

North Carolina: $146,890

North Dakota: $120,780

Ohio: $130,320

Oklahoma: $114,470

Oregon: $144,610

Pennsylvania: $144,570

Rhode Island: $156,300

South Carolina: $115,230

South Dakota: $109,190

Tennessee: $149,050

Texas: $166,620

Utah: $133,920

Vermont: $101,610

Virginia: $162,640

Washington: $162,200

West Virginia: $122,070

Wisconsin: $147,530

Wyoming: $88,570

Lawyer salary levels by specialty

Next, let’s take a look at salaries based on some of the most common areas of practice. 

Trial lawyer

Average salary: $114,069

Trial lawyers represent their clients in court by gathering evidence and crafting a compelling argument. They also handle paperwork and negotiate deals.

Criminal lawyer

Average salary: $52,499

Also known as a criminal defense lawyer, this type of lawyer specializes in defending those who have been charged with a crime.

Corporate lawyer  

Average salary: $144,231

Corporate lawyers ensure that businesses are following laws, handle contacts, and offer legal advice for issues like employment or copyrights. They often work in-house at companies or in law firms. 

Labor lawyer

Average salary: $97,846

Labor lawyers specialize in employment-related matters, including workplace disputes, labor laws, and employee rights.

Family lawyer

Average salary: $103,571

A family lawyer handles legal matters related to families. Some of the most common family disputes include divorce, child custody, adoption, and inheritance. 

Tax lawyer

Average salary: $121,261

A tax lawyer minimizes tax liabilities. 

They offer legal advice and help clients – individuals and businesses alike – navigate tax regulations, plan for audits, handle disputes with the IRS, and more.

Immigration lawyer

Average salary: $101,201

Immigration lawyers assist clients in the immigration process. They can help clients navigate visa applications, citizenship, deportation appeals, asylum, and more.

Environmental lawyer

Average salary: $138,158

An environmental lawyer specializes in environment-related legal issues, such as environmental regulations, renewable energy, and environmental liabilities in corporate transactions.

Contract lawyer

Average salary: $97,846

Contract lawyers specialize in the legalities of creating, negotiating, and enforcing contracts. They’ll also get involved with litigation if the parties disagree about how the contract should be honored.


Average salary: $98,920

A mediator helps conflicting parties find solutions without going to court. They act as a neutral party by facilitating discussions and promoting understanding on each side. 


Average salary: $153,700

Judges lead court proceedings, consider arguments from both sides, and apply the law in various legal matters. They manage pretrial discussions, settle disputes, and make legal rulings.

Judicial clerk 

Average salary: $66,310

A judicial clerk serves as a full-time assistant to a judge. They’re responsible for several tasks, including legal research, drafting, proofreading, and more.

Okay, we’ve discussed the average lawyer’s salary across states, cities, and specialties.

Now, let’s briefly look at how to actually become a lawyer.

How long does it take to become a lawyer? 

Becoming a lawyer doesn’t happen overnight. Typically, it takes about seven years.

That includes four years of undergraduate studies and three years of law school. Plenty of students take a few years between college and law school to get work experience. 

But you’ll also need to factor in the extra time it takes to study for and pass the bar exam. Keep in mind that if you don’t pass the first time, you’ll need to extend your timeline.

Aside from the time it takes to become a lawyer, many law students are concerned about law school debt. 

There are easy ways to make it manageable – keep reading to learn how.

How to manage law school debt?

Most law students don’t have time to work and study.

That’s why more than 95% of them graduate with an average of $165,000 in student loans. However, indebtedness depends on the law school you attend. 

But is law school, and the salary you earn, even worth it with that debt in mind? 

Yes – you just have to know your options.

Choose the right law school

First, by choosing the right law school, you increase your earning potential and can often pay off your debt faster. 

According to the U.S. News, your starting salary correlates with the school you attend. 

At each of the top 15 schools in the 2023 Best Law Schools rankings, the median private sector salary was $190,000 – more than any other law school. 

On the other hand, the law schools with the lowest private sector starting salaries were ranked at the bottom of the rankings. 

Look for aid and scholarships

Most law school students don’t pay all the costs themselves. According to Law School Transparency, nearly 78% of law school students have some kind of tuition discount.

You can either get merit-based aid or need-based aid. 

Merit-based aid is the more common option and is used to entice top students to choose a particular law school. Some law schools offer full-ride scholarships while others have rules against them. 

These law schools offer the most merit-based aid based on the percentage of students who can cover at least half their tuition: 

School % of students who receive enough aid to cover at least half of their tuition (2022-2023) Median grant amount (2022-2023)
University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign80%$35,000
Case Western University 80%$40,000
University of Southern California (Gould)72%$40,000
University of Dayton 72%$33,000
Gonzaga University 66%$24,378
Loyola University Chicago65%$31,000
DePaul University 65%$30,000
Washington & Lee University 64%$35,000
University of California, Irvine63%$25,000
William & Mary61%$25,193

Source: US News 

Need-based aid is offered based on needs. Some law schools (Harvard and Yale, for example) only offer need-based aid. Some of this aid can be loans so it’s not always “free money.”  

Otherwise, some schools offer school-specific scholarships, if the applicant meets specific criteria (such as commitment to an area of law). These are often very generous scholarships that can cover many of your costs (such as tuition, housing, and other costs). 

You can also apply for a scholarship that’s granted by a third party. 

Get a loan

Another option is to get a loan. 

You can either apply for federal or private loans. Sometimes both are needed, but private loans come with high interest rates. 

Many law schools offer what are known as Loan Repayment Assistance Programs (LRAPs) for those who go into a career in public service or public interest law. 

Next steps 

There you have it – now you know how much lawyers make. 

But there’s more to think about on your journey to becoming a lawyer than just the salary. 

Like getting into one of your top ten law schools.

I help future lawyers just like you create strong applications, get funding, and plan for a law career after graduation.

Want to learn more? 

Find out what it’s like to work with me here.

Read more: 

How to Get Into Top Law Schools

The Best Law Schools in the US


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