Home / Economy / Articles / How much money do lawyers make?

In May 2022, the median annual wage for lawyers was $135,740. The 10th percentile of top-earning lawyers makes an annual wage of $66,470, while those in the 90th percentile earn $239,200 or more per year. Average starting salaries for lawyers depend on various factors, such as city and state, industry sector, and level of experience.

Embed on your website

What is the salary range for a lawyer?

Salary ranges for lawyers depend on the state in which they practice, their industry, and their area of specialization.

Although the wage distribution of lawyers in each industry is considered separately, nearly all lawyers in the 90th percentile earn $239,200 or higher. Wages for lawyers in the 10th percentile vary greatly. For instance, in the health care and social assistance industry, lawyers in the 10th percentile earn $47,840, the lowest of all industries.

The information sector paid the highest salaries for the lowest paid 10% of lawyers with earnings at $119,860. This sector captures occupations related to software publishing, digital and traditional publishing, broadcasting, telecommunications, motion picture and sound recording, and data processing.

Embed on your website

Lawyer salaries by state

Lawyers in these states earn the highest median salaries:

  • California ($175,680)
  • New York ($172,880)
  • Massachusetts ($161,530)
  • Rhode Island ($151,960)
  • Washington, DC ($177,880)

Adjusted for cost of living, those four states and Washington, DC, still rank the highest for lawyer salaries.

Lawyers in five additional states earn higher than the median average annual wage: Colorado ($147,280), Connecticut ($146,730), Virginia ($141,430), New Jersey ($138,630), and Minnesota ($137,360).

Embed on your website

The states with the lowest median lawyer salaries are Kentucky ($82,540), Wyoming ($82,540), and Mississippi ($80,540). However, when adjusted for cost of living, the states where lawyers earn the lowest wages are Hawaii ($89,571), Vermont ($86,403), and Maine ($84,769).

All six of these states are among the 13 states with the lowest average salaries for lawyers. When adjusted for cost of living, their rankings shuffle to account for how expensive it is to live in each state.

Best-paying cities for lawyers

The San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara metro area in California had the highest annual median lawyer salary in 2022 at $232,320. When adjusted for cost of living, average salaries in the Midland metro area in Michigan, around a two hour’s drive northwest of Detroit, are the highest at $203,051. The San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara metro area ranks second in adjusted salaries at $201,567.

Embed on your website

Median lawyer salaries are lowest in Muncie, Indiana ($67,970), Hot Springs, Arkansas ($67,360), and Pine Bluff, Arkansas ($64,520). These metro areas are also the lowest-ranking metro areas for lawyer salaries after adjusting for cost of living.

How do lawyer salaries vary by industry?

The four industries where lawyers earned the highest mean salaries—more than $250,000 on average – were nonscheduled air transportation ($310,250), computer and peripheral equipment manufacturing ($276,160), office administrative services ($261,740), and spectator sports ($251,260).

Lawyers in three industries, all in healthcare or education sectors, earn mean salaries below $100,000. These include other schools and instruction — education other than elementary and secondary school, junior colleges, colleges, universities, professional schools, business schools and computer management training, technical and trade schools, and educational support services — where the mean salary is $99,560. Additionally, lawyers in the community food and housing, and emergency and other relief services industry earn an average salary of $88,010, while those in individual and family services earn $78,240.

Embed on your website

How does lawyer pay compare to other law careers?

Compared to other law-related occupations, lawyers earn the highest median income. Median lawyer pay is higher than judges and hearing officers ($128,610), arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators ($64,030), court reporters and simultaneous captioners ($63,560), and paralegals and legal assistants ($59,200). Of these professions, judges and hearing officers are the only occupations which also require a doctoral or professional degree to practice.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that employment for lawyers will grow 8% from 2022 to 2032, which is faster than the nation’s average for all occupations.

Learn more about the fastest-growing professions in America and get data directly in your inbox by signing up for our newsletter.

Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics
Last updated
April 25, 2023
Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics Query System
Last updated
May 2022