Working as an Attorney

An attorney's job is to be there for people who are down on their luck, legally, of course. They provide legal advice to individuals, businesses and even government agencies (yes, the government can get into trouble too).

While a degree in law may not sound too bad, this profession also requires that you pass the bar exam. Which, if you haven't heard of before, it's pretty difficult to pass. If you're willing to put in the study hours, though, the average attorney makes $122,960 a year. So that's definitely a plus.

There is more than meets the eye when it comes to being an attorney. For example, did you know that they make an average of $57.24 an hour? That's $119,052 a year!

Between 2018 and 2028, the career is expected to grow 6% and produce 50,100 job opportunities across the U.S.

What Does an Attorney Do

There are certain skills that many attorneys have in order to accomplish their responsibilities. By taking a look through resumes, we were able to narrow down the most common skills for a person in this position. We discovered that a lot of resumes listed analytical skills, speaking skills and writing skills.

When it comes to the most important skills required to be an attorney, we found that a lot of resumes listed 26.5% of attorneys included legal issues, while 10.6% of resumes included law firm, and 4.6% of resumes included real estate. Hard skills like these are helpful to have when it comes to performing essential job responsibilities.

When it comes to searching for a job, many search for a key term or phrase. Instead, it might be more helpful to search by industry, as you might be missing jobs that you never thought about in industries that you didn't even think offered positions related to the attorney job title. But what industry to start with? Most attorneys actually find jobs in the professional and finance industries.

How To Become an Attorney

If you're interested in becoming an attorney, one of the first things to consider is how much education you need. We've determined that 11.0% of attorneys have a bachelor's degree. In terms of higher education levels, we found that 9.6% of attorneys have master's degrees. Even though most attorneys have a college degree, it's possible to become one with only a high school degree or GED.

Choosing the right major is always an important step when researching how to become an attorney. When we researched the most common majors for an attorney, we found that they most commonly earn doctoral degree degrees or bachelor's degree degrees. Other degrees that we often see on attorney resumes include master's degree degrees or associate degree degrees.

You may find that experience in other jobs will help you become an attorney. In fact, many attorney jobs require experience in a role such as law clerk. Meanwhile, many attorneys also have previous career experience in roles such as legal extern or internship.

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Average Salary$119,052
Job Growth Rate6%

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Average Salary for an Attorney

Attorneys in America make an average salary of $119,052 per year or $57 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $224,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $63,000 per year.
Average Salary
$119,052

Best Paying Cities

Average Salary
Salary Range102k - 206k$145k$145,376
Salary Range95k - 183k$133k$132,717
Salary Range89k - 173k$125k$124,880
Salary Range85k - 164k$118k$118,295
Salary Range81k - 159k$114k$113,930
Salary Range79k - 158k$112k$112,264
$67k
$206k

Recently Added Salaries

Job TitleCompanyCompanyStart DateSalary
Attorneys
Attorneys
U.S. Small Business Administration
U.S. Small Business Administration
10/31/2020
10/31/2020
$57,66410/31/2020
$57,664
Legalserver Support Attorney/Advocate
Legalserver Support Attorney/Advocate
Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid
Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid
10/31/2020
10/31/2020
$58,78010/31/2020
$58,780
Attorney Advisor (General)
Attorney Advisor (General)
Office of The General Counsel
Office of The General Counsel
10/30/2020
10/30/2020
$121,31610/30/2020
$121,316
Attorney Advisor (Trademark)
Attorney Advisor (Trademark)
Patent and Trademark Office
Patent and Trademark Office
10/30/2020
10/30/2020
$72,03010/30/2020
$72,030
Local Office Attorney
Local Office Attorney
State of Indiana
State of Indiana
10/30/2020
10/30/2020
$61,02210/30/2020
$61,022
See More Recent Salaries

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Attorney Demographics

Gender

female

48.3%

male

46.9%

unknown

4.8%

Ethnicity

White

79.7%

Hispanic or Latino

7.1%

Black or African American

5.6%

Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

48.8%

French

13.4%

Portuguese

4.9%
See More Demographics

Attorney Education

Degrees

Doctorate

68.4%

Bachelors

11.0%

Masters

9.6%

Top Colleges for Attorneys

1. Stanford University

Stanford, CA

Tuition and fees
$51,354
Enrollment
7,083

2. Harvard University

Cambridge, MA

Tuition and fees
$50,420
Enrollment
7,582

3. Duke University

Durham, NC

Tuition and fees
$55,695
Enrollment
6,596

4. University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA

Tuition and fees
$55,584
Enrollment
10,764

5. Yale University

New Haven, CT

Tuition and fees
$53,430
Enrollment
5,963

6. Cornell University

Ithaca, NY

Tuition and fees
$55,188
Enrollment
15,105

7. Georgetown University

Washington, DC

Tuition and fees
$54,104
Enrollment
7,089

8. University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor, MI

Tuition and fees
$15,262
Enrollment
30,079

9. Northwestern University

Evanston, IL

Tuition and fees
$54,568
Enrollment
8,451

10. University of Notre Dame

Notre Dame, IN

Tuition and fees
$53,391
Enrollment
8,568
See More Education Info

Entry Level Jobs For Becoming An Attorney

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Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary

Top Skills For an Attorney

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 26.5% of attorneys listed legal issues on their resume, but soft skills such as analytical skills and speaking skills are important as well.

  • Legal Issues, 26.5%
  • Law Firm, 10.6%
  • Real Estate, 4.6%
  • Civil Litigation, 4.3%
  • Trial Preparation, 3.7%
  • Other Skills, 50.3%
  • See All Attorney Skills

Best States For an Attorney

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as an attorney. The best states for people in this position are California, New York, Connecticut, and Virginia. Attorneys make the most in California with an average salary of $127,850. Whereas in New York and Connecticut, they would average $126,719 and $119,759, respectively. While attorneys would only make an average of $112,429 in Virginia, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. New York

Total Attorney Jobs:
462
Highest 10% Earn:
$213,000
Location Quotient:
1.7
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. California

Total Attorney Jobs:
1,054
Highest 10% Earn:
$216,000
Location Quotient:
1.58
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. Connecticut

Total Attorney Jobs:
80
Highest 10% Earn:
$204,000
Location Quotient:
1.22
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
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Attorney Resumes

Designing and figuring out what to include on your resume can be tough, not to mention time-consuming. That's why we put together a guide that is designed to help you craft the perfect resume for becoming an attorney. If you're needing extra inspiration, take a look through our selection of templates that are specific to your job.

At Zippia, we went through countless attorney resumes and compiled some information about how best to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

Learn How To Write an Attorney Resume

At Zippia, we went through countless attorney resumes and compiled some information about how best to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

View Detailed Information

How Do Attorney Rate Their Jobs?

Zippia Official Logo

5.0

Defense Attorney- PartnerFebruary 2019

5.0

Zippia Official LogoDefense Attorney- PartnerFebruary 2019

What do you like the most about working as Attorney?

As a civil litigation defense attorney I love the fact that every day is different. I enjoy assisting clients who have a problem to solve that problem in the most cost effective way, and how to avoid such problems in the future. I like that I basically set my own work schedule (other than court dates). Show More

What do you NOT like?

Billing hours. Unscrupulous opposing counsel. Occasional biased judges who do not follow the law. Show More

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Top Attorney Employers

We've made finding a great employer to work for easy by doing the hard work for you. We looked into employers that employ attorneys and discovered their number of attorney opportunities and average salary. Through our research, we concluded that Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP and Affiliates was the best, especially with an average salary of $145,600. Davis Polk & Wardwell follows up with an average salary of $142,309, and then comes Latham & Watkins with an average of $134,855. In addition, we know most people would rather work from home. So instead of having to change careers, we identified the best employers for remote work as an attorney. The employers include Robert Half International, TransPerfect, and Haley Stuart Group

1. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP and Affiliates
4.9
Avg. Salary: 
$145,600
Attorneys Hired: 
329+
2. Davis Polk & Wardwell
4.8
Avg. Salary: 
$142,309
Attorneys Hired: 
157+
3. Latham & Watkins
4.9
Avg. Salary: 
$134,855
Attorneys Hired: 
121+
4. Robert Half International
4.5
Avg. Salary: 
$42,552
Attorneys Hired: 
100+
5. Morrison & Foerster
4.8
Avg. Salary: 
$137,490
Attorneys Hired: 
82+
6. Special Counsel
3.9
Avg. Salary: 
$101,763
Attorneys Hired: 
54+

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Updated October 2, 2020