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Career Profile: Lawyers

Represent clients in criminal and civil litigation and other legal proceedings, draw up legal documents, or manage or advise clients on legal transactions. May specialize in a single area or may practice broadly in many areas of law.

Salary and Outlook

According to the US Department of Labor, there are 804,200 people employed as lawyers in the United States. The median annual salary is $126,900. Entry level employees earn approximately $61,490 per year and senior employees earn approximately $208,000 (or more) per year.

Estimates do not include other potential benefits such as health insurance, overtime pay, or retirement benefits that may be offered by employers.

Job Duties

  • Perform administrative and management functions related to the practice of law.
  • Examine legal data to determine advisability of defending or prosecuting lawsuit.
  • Evaluate findings and develop strategies and arguments in preparation for presentation of cases.
  • Work in environmental law, representing public interest groups, waste disposal companies, or construction firms in their dealings with state and federal agencies.
  • Probate wills and represent and advise executors and administrators of estates.
  • Act as agent, trustee, guardian, or executor for businesses or individuals.
  • Help develop federal and state programs, draft and interpret laws and legislation, and establish enforcement procedures.
  • Present evidence to defend clients or prosecute defendants in criminal or civil litigation.
  • Represent clients in court or before government agencies.
  • Present and summarize cases to judges and juries.
  • Study Constitution, statutes, decisions, regulations, and ordinances of quasi-judicial bodies to determine ramifications for cases.
  • Prepare, draft, and review legal documents, such as wills, deeds, patent applications, mortgages, leases, and contracts.
  • Gather evidence to formulate defense or to initiate legal actions by such means as interviewing clients and witnesses to ascertain the facts of a case.
  • Prepare legal briefs and opinions, and file appeals in state and federal courts of appeal.
  • Search for and examine public and other legal records to write opinions or establish ownership.
  • Confer with colleagues with specialties in appropriate areas of legal issue to establish and verify bases for legal proceedings.
  • Negotiate settlements of civil disputes.
  • Supervise legal assistants.
  • Analyze the probable outcomes of cases, using knowledge of legal precedents.
  • Advise clients concerning business transactions, claim liability, advisability of prosecuting or defending lawsuits, or legal rights and obligations.
  • Select jurors, argue motions, meet with judges, and question witnesses during the course of a trial.
  • Interpret laws, rulings and regulations for individuals and businesses.

Career List

Job Outlook


Total Current Jobs:
804,200
Annual Openings:
46,000
Increase in Openings by 2030:
9%
Annual Salary Range:
$61,490 - $208,000
Education Requirements:
Master's degree or higher