Lawyer earnings by seniority

Approximate values based on highest and lowest earning segments.

Lawyer salary by state

State Name Average Salary
Virginia $105,353
New York $121,583
Pennsylvania $78,289
California $101,121
Florida $87,075
Texas $77,065
District of Columbia $118,000
Illinois $98,000
Maryland $87,500
Washington $90,000
New Jersey $97,000
Ohio $90,000
Michigan $65,000
North Carolina $72,000
Georgia $71,000
Massachusetts $76,500
Oregon $83,000

How much does a Lawyer earn?

Becoming a lawyer is still a financially-booming career path and has significant monetary perks. According to the Bottom Line blog of MSNBC, lawyers were number five on the list with an average salary of $130,490, coming in behind petroleum engineers (average salary of $138,980), chief executive officers (average salary of $176,550), orthodontists and dentists (average salary ranging from $161,750 to $204,670), and doctors and surgeons (average salary ranging from $168,650 to $234,950).

For new lawyers who join high-paying firms like New York’s Cravath, Swaine & Moore or Los Angeles-based Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, first-year compensation for most associates is set at $160,000. Most associates at top firms receive salaries that go up in what’s known as “lockstep” compensation from year to year, from $160,000 to $170,000, $185,000, $210,000, etc. Some firms also give generous bonuses. The nation’s highest-paying firm, Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, is known to pay bonuses equal to a full year’s salary.

Do Men or Women Earn More?

Sky Analytics (a legal invoicing company) analyzed $3.4 billion in invoices from more than 3,000 law firms, including many of the largest in the country. It found that no matter what tier firm women work at, determined by the number of attorneys and its geographic footprint, they will be billed at “significantly lower rates per hour” than men, on average getting $47, or 10 percent, less per hour. While 2 percent of men at top tier firms are billed at over $1,000 an hour, virtually no women make that rate, and while about half of them charge more than $500 an hour, less than a third of women bill that rate.

How do lawyer salaries compare to similar careers?

Lawyers earn 13% more than similar careers in the United States. On average, they make less than judges but more than arbitrators.

Career Median Salary
Judge salary $134K
Lawyer salary $79K
Hearing officer salary $95K
Special agent salary $60K
Customs inspector salary $80K
Arbitrator salary $61K

Source: CareerExplorer (Aggregated)