What Is the Employment Outlook for Attorneys?

If you're considering becoming a lawyer, but are afraid you won't find a job after you earn your law degree, read on. The good news is that the employment outlook remains positive for current and future attorneys in the U.S. Individuals and businesses alike need the legal services that attorneys offer. Learn more about the employment outlook for attorneys. Schools offering Juris Doctor degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Attorney Defined

As an attorney (also known as a lawyer), you are responsible for representing clients in criminal and civil trials and preparing documents and legal proceedings. You'll also provide counseling services involving clients' legal rights and help clients choose the most legally sound path when making important business and personal decisions. You may focus your energy on a specific area, such as bankruptcy law, international law or environmental law, or practice broadly, encompassing more than one area.

Important Facts About Attorneys

Required Education Juris Doctor Degree
Licensure Prospective attorneys must pass the 'bar exam' (licensing exam)
Continuing Education Required and varies by each state
Key Skills Interpersonal Communication, Reading and Writing, Attention to Detail, Patience
Work Environment Office and Courtroom Setting
Similar Occupations Judge, Mediator/Arbitrator, Postsecondary Teacher

Employment Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that there were 603,310 attorneys in 2014 (www.bls.gov). In 2014, the BLS predicted that there would be 822,500 attorneys by the year 2024, resulting in an occupational growth of six percent, which is as fast as average when compared to other occupations. However, you can expect to face considerable competition for positions due to the large number of law school graduates entering the field every year. The trend toward using paralegals to handle more common tasks may have a negative impact on the employment outlook during this period. Population growth may increase the demand for legal transactions and disputes.

The greatest employment growth for attorneys is likely to be among salaried staff attorneys in large metropolitan businesses and various sectors of government, according to the BLS. Self-employed attorneys will enjoy growth at a slower pace. Attorneys looking to start their own business might benefit from opening an office in small towns, away from more competitive, larger law firms.

Salary Info

The BLS reported in May 2014 that the average annual salary for attorneys was $133,470. The top ten percent of attorneys earned $187,199 or more per year, while the bottom ten percent earned $55,400 or less per year. Attorneys working for the industrial manufacturing industry had among the highest average annual incomes at $209,730 per year.

Salaries vary greatly and depend on many factors, such as education, experience, geographic location and employer. Attorneys who make partner in a law firm may earn more than attorneys with their own private firm. Salaried attorneys may benefit from health, life and retirement plans. Independent attorneys must arrange for these benefits on their own.

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