11 of the Highest-Paid Lawyers (With Job Duties and Salaries)

Updated December 14, 2022

Lawyers have many options for specialization within the field of law, such as criminal law or civil litigation. While many lawyers can have similar responsibilities, each of these roles can offer a unique earning potential based on the level of expertise it requires. Therefore, if you're considering a specialization in a particular area of law, it can be beneficial to learn about how much money you can earn in various positions to determine which career path might be best for you. In this article, we explore 11 of the highest-paid positions that lawyers can pursue.


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What specialized fields are there for lawyers?

When considering a career in law, there are many focuses to consider, such as which area of law you might be interested in pursuing as a specialization. For example, some professionals might want to be corporate lawyers and provide legal support to large companies and organizations. On the other hand, others may choose to become family law attorneys and help clients with events like divorce, custody negotiations, and adoption cases. Here are some of the fields of law you can specialize in as an attorney:

  • Corporate and business law

  • Legal management and administration

  • Civil, human, and animal rights

  • Medical malpractice

  • Auto accidents and injuries

  • Family and divorce law

  • Estate and probate law

  • Real estate law

  • Employment and labour law

  • Criminal defence


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What factors can affect a lawyer's salary?

Some areas of law are more likely to provide you with a high salary than others. For example, your years of professional experience practicing law and your education level are two factors that can affect how much you might make as an attorney. Another important factor affecting how much money you make as a lawyer is where you live. In some regions, there is a greater demand for attorneys with specific skills, which may lead to higher salaries.

For example, some metropolitan areas may have a higher earning potential for corporate, civil, and family law attorneys than more rural or less populated areas. There are also some types of lawyers who can earn higher salaries due to the specialized nature of their law practice.

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11 of the highest-paid lawyers

Here are 11 of the highest-paying jobs that lawyers can pursue:

1. Attorney at law

National average salary: $61,110 per year

Primary duties: An attorney at law, sometimes called a trial lawyer, counsels and represents their clients' legal rights in civil and criminal cases. Attorneys at law can have varying responsibilities depending on who they represent. Still, their duties can include helping clients in pre-trial counsel, preparing legal documents to be used in court and pleadings, and appearing in court to represent clients during trials and hearings. An attorney at law can work for a law firm, but many choose to open their own independent private law practices.

Related: Attorney vs. Lawyer: What's the Difference?

2. Patent attorney

National average salary: $58,741 per year

Primary duties: A patent attorney helps clients secure patents for inventions or other types of new products. Patent attorneys can prepare paperwork that describes the product their client wants to protect with a patent, submit applications for patents to the necessary agencies, and review proposed patents for their clients to ensure they're unique from all other existing patents. A patent attorney can also represent clients in courtroom proceedings, like hearings or trials, and during cases that revolve around intellectual property or patent disputes.

3. Legal manager

National average salary: $67,536 per year

Primary duties: A legal manager offers legal advice to a company or another type of organization. Legal managers can prepare drafts of new contracts for executives to review and sign, organize and distribute regulatory documents so a company adheres to regulations that pertain to its industry and provide legal guidance during proceedings that a company might take part in, such as a merger or lawsuit. As their job typically involves working with companies, legal managers usually have extensive knowledge of business law and other important aspects of business, such as project management and billing.

4. Intellectual property paralegal

National average salary: $62,319 per year

Primary duties: An intellectual property paralegal helps attorneys who specialize in protecting their clients' IPs. Intellectual property paralegals can organize paperwork like patent applications, research intellectual property pieces to identify similar products from other sources, and review sensitive information while maintaining security. An intellectual property paralegal can work with many types of intellectual property, including patents and trademarks.

5. Lawyer

National average salary: $99,106 per year

Primary duties: A lawyer represents clients in legal cases and provides legal advice before, during, and after court proceedings. Their job can involve reviewing evidence to develop an argument to use in court, preparing documents like plea agreements and witness statements, and arguing cases in court during trials and hearings. Lawyers can serve multiple clients at a time, and they often work at law firms or organizations as in-house counsel.

6. Family lawyer

National average salary: $95,906 per year

Primary duties: A family lawyer helps settle cases that focus on events within families, such as divorce or custody agreements. Family lawyers can act as mediators during negotiations between family members or spouses, represent their clients in court, and draft paperwork such as prenuptial agreements and adoption contracts. A family lawyer can also assist families when organizing the belongings of deceased family members by drafting wills and other documents that distribute estates among living relatives.

7. Personal injury lawyer

National average salary: $94,019 per year

Primary duties: A personal injury lawyer takes on cases for people who experience injuries they aren't personally responsible for, such as an accident at a business. Personal injury lawyers can research a product or location to determine how it might be responsible for a client's injury, gather insurance information from both parties in an accident, and negotiate settlements for their clients. Many personal injury lawyers represent clients who get injured during automobile accidents, where they can use evidence to prove who's responsible for the incident.

8. Corporate counsel

National average salary: $122,856 per year

Primary duties: A corporate counsel specializes in offering legal protection to businesses and corporations. In addition, corporate counsels can research to build cases for companies, advise their clients on adhering to government regulations, and provide guidance on contracts and other legal negotiations. A corporate counsel can work for almost any type of organization, including governments, companies, and non-profits, but they typically serve only one client at a time.

9. Employment lawyer

National average salary: $84,197 per year

Primary duties: An employment lawyer represents employers or employees during court cases that focus on events or topics in a specific workplace or at a particular company. Employment lawyers can share information with employees to ensure they know their rights, help employers verify that their work operations adhere to laws and regulations, and prepare clients for legal events, such as mediation or negotiations. An employment lawyer typically works for either employers or employees, but most have knowledge that allows them to take on cases from either group.

10. General counsel

National average salary: $114,079 per year

Primary duties: A general counsel gives legal advice to clients, most often to businesses and other types of organizations. General counsels can help companies organize transactions like mergers and acquisitions, review a company's operations to ensure all employees comply with legal regulations, and prepare a business for tax season by gathering and filling out paperwork. Because a general counsel can contribute to many areas of a company's legal needs, they often take on responsibilities in multiple facets of law at once.

11. Litigation attorney

National average salary: $217,983 per year

Primary duties: A litigation attorney represents clients in civil lawsuits. Their specific job duties can vary depending on the subject of each case. Still, they often include responsibilities like reviewing evidence during the investigation process, drafting pleas and other types of documents for their clients, and maintaining organization over discovery throughout all stages of a case. Litigation attorneys can also represent their clients in court by arguing cases in trials and hearings.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at the time of writing. Salaries‌ ‌may‌ ‌‌vary‌‌ ‌depending‌ ‌on‌ ‌the‌ ‌hiring‌ ‌organization‌ ‌and‌ ‌a‌ ‌candidate's‌ ‌experience,‌ ‌academic‌ background‌, ‌and‌ ‌location.‌

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