Lawyers are also called attorneys or counselors. They are professionals licensed by the bar association to advise and represent clients in legal matters. Lawyers may specialize in a field of law, like criminal law or real estate law, or maintain a general practice.

Because they represent people in legal matters, lawyers are required to uphold the law to the highest possible standard. They may lose their credibility if they are caught committing crimes.

Most lawyers spend their time outside the courtroom. It goes into activities like library research or attending meetings with their clients to review case defense. Lawyers may also investigate evidence, develop legal documents, and attempt to settle matters outside the courtroom.

To become a lawyer, applicants need to pass the bar and attend law school. Some people begin practicing after college, while others become paralegals before going back to attend law school. Lawyers need writing and communications skills, analytical skills, and empathy.

What Does a Lawyer Do

Lawyers advise and represent individuals, businesses, and government agencies on legal issues and disputes. 

Learn more about what a Lawyer does

How To Become a Lawyer

All lawyers must have a law degree and must also typically pass a state’s written bar examination.

Learn More About How To Become a Lawyer

Lawyer Career Paths

Average Salary for a Lawyer

Lawyers in America make an average salary of $115,808 per year or $56 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $208,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $64,000 per year.
Average Lawyer Salary
$115,808 Yearly
$55.68 hourly
10 %
90 %

What Am I Worth?


Lawyer Education

Lawyer Degrees


51.0 %


26.3 %


14.6 %

Top Colleges for Lawyers

1. Stanford University

Stanford, CA • Private

In-State Tuition

2. Harvard University

Cambridge, MA • Private

In-State Tuition

3. Duke University

Durham, NC • Private

In-State Tuition

4. University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA • Private

In-State Tuition

5. Yale University

New Haven, CT • Private

In-State Tuition

6. Cornell University

Ithaca, NY • Private

In-State Tuition

7. Georgetown University

Washington, DC • Private

In-State Tuition

8. University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor, MI • Private

In-State Tuition

9. Northwestern University

Evanston, IL • Private

In-State Tuition

10. University of Notre Dame

Notre Dame, IN • Private

In-State Tuition

Top Skills For a Lawyer

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, 25.5% of lawyers listed legal advice on their resume, but soft skills such as analytical skills and interpersonal skills are important as well.

  • Legal Advice, 25.5%
  • Law Firm, 10.8%
  • Legal Documents, 7.0%
  • Civil Litigation, 6.9%
  • Real Estate, 5.7%
  • Other Skills, 44.1%

Choose From 10+ Customizable Lawyer Resume templates

Zippia allows you to choose from different easy-to-use Lawyer templates, and provides you with expert advice. Using the templates, you can rest assured that the structure and format of your Lawyer resume is top notch. Choose a template with the colors, fonts & text sizes that are appropriate for your industry.

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Lawyer Demographics

Lawyer Gender Distribution


After extensive research and analysis, Zippia's data science team found that:

  • Among lawyers, 51.5% of them are women, while 48.5% are men.

  • The most common race/ethnicity among lawyers is White, which makes up 79.8% of all lawyers.

  • The most common foreign language among lawyers is Spanish at 42.8%.

Online Courses For Lawyer That You May Like

Advertising Disclosure  The courses listed below are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the course, we may receive a commission.
Intellectual Property Law in Digital Age

A unique course will help students to get a comprehensive legal education in the field of intellectual property in a fairly short time. The objective of the course is to be as practice-oriented as possible. The course examines the main institutions of intellectual property law: copyright and related rights, patent law, trademark law, legal regulation of domains. The course also includes sections of intellectual property in Software, Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things and Big Data. The c...

AI & Law

About this Course This four-week course titled AI and Law explores the way in which the increasing use of artificially intelligent technologies (AI) affects the practice and administration of law defined in a broad sense. Subject matters discussed include the connection be between AI and Law in the context of legal responsibility, law-making, law-enforcing, criminal law, the medical sector and intellectual property law. The course aims to equip members of the general public with an elementary ab...

Employment Law Compliance Made Easy

A comprehensive course for management to understand key employment law issues in the workplace...

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Best States For a Lawyer

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a lawyer. The best states for people in this position are New York, Massachusetts, California, and Connecticut. Lawyers make the most in New York with an average salary of $132,472. Whereas in Massachusetts and California, they would average $127,181 and $123,707, respectively. While lawyers would only make an average of $115,525 in Connecticut, 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. District of Columbia

Total Lawyer Jobs:
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:
8.61 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. New York

Total Lawyer Jobs:
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:
2.12 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. Massachusetts

Total Lawyer Jobs:
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:
1.57 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
Full List Of Best States For Lawyers

How Do Lawyer Rate Their Jobs?

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Top Lawyer Employers

What are the best companies to work for a Lawyer?

Ronald Rychlak

Distinguished Professor of Law, University of Mississippi

Legal support is needed in numerous areas, from small law firms to large multinational corporations. More and more, you see colleges and universities with a need in this field. The goal should be to find a welcoming office, a stable environment, and a geographic location that fits your needs and desires. Fortunately, with this background, there are many options to choose from.Show more

Lawyer Videos

Becoming a Lawyer FAQs

Are lawyers happy?

No, lawyers are not happy. Lawyers are 3.6 times more likely to be depressed than people working in other fields. It is estimated that 28% of licensed lawyers suffer from depression. In addition, studies have shown that 56% of lawyers are frustrated with their careers.

How hard is it to become a lawyer?

It is pretty hard to become a lawyer. Getting a license to practice law in the U.S. generally requires years of strenuous effort, and it may involve acquiring a significant amount of student loan debt in order to cover the cost of law school.

What degree do you need to be a lawyer?

You need a Juris Doctor degree to be a lawyer. The majority of lawyers have to spend four years getting their bachelor's degree and three years attaining their Juris Doctor degree.

To become a lawyer, individuals need to spend seven years in school. Initially, students get their bachelor's degree from a college or a university. Afterward, they must take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). The student's university grades and LSAT score will determine whether they get into the top law school of their choice.

Legal consultant vs Lawyer

A legal consultant works in an advisory capacity for a client, while a lawyer offers a client representation before a judge or in other legal matters.

A legal consultant is a professional who provides legal advice and strategies to individuals and organizations. While they can perform many of the same functions as a lawyer, legal consultants strictly provide services outside of the courtroom. They can work in many different areas of law including financial law, foreign affairs, real estate, as well as many others.

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