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.
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|
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that there were 642,750 attorneys in May 2018. In 2016, the BLS predicted that there would be 857,500 attorneys by the year 2026, resulting in an occupational growth of eight 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.
The BLS reported in May 2018 that the average annual salary for attorneys was $144,230. The top ten percent of attorneys earned $208,000 or more per year, while the bottom ten percent earned $58,220 or less per year. Attorneys working for cable and other subscription programming had among the highest average annual incomes at $234,310 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.