Lawyers picture    Lawyers image

Lawyers serve as the connection between the legal system and society in a variety of ways. Lawyers serve as advocates and advisors to their clients. In the role of an advocate, they provide representation for one of the parties in a civil or criminal trial. They offer evidence and make arguments in court on behalf of their client. As an advisor they offer advice regarding their client's legal rights and obligations. Lawyers also recommend specific courses of action. Lawyers research and examine the intent of the applicable laws, the relevant judicial decisions and precedents (prior interpretations of laws) and apply their analysis to their client's situation.

A large number of lawyers specialize in a particular area of the law including criminal, insurance, real estate, intellectual property, environmental and divorce. Some lawyers practice corporate law which often involves obligations, responsibilities and rights in business transactions. Regarding trial lawyers, they must be very knowledgeable with the rules of the courtroom. However, they spend the majority of their time researching, conducting interviews with clients and witnesses and taking care of various details for court cases. Lawyers also work for legal aide societies.

Many lawyers have private practices and concentrate on civil or criminal law. Lawyers handling civil law cases help clients with issues such as contracts, mortgages, trusts, wills, titles and leases. Lawyers handling criminal law cases provide representation to individuals who have been charged with crimes and represent them in court. In addition, lawyers may specialize in public interest cases which can be either civil or criminal.


  • Offer interpretation of laws, regulations and rulings to clients
  • Evaluate the probable outcome of cases
  • Argue and summarize cases for juries and judges
  • Develop strategies for cases
  • Supervise legal assistants
  • Select jurors
  • Offer evidence to defend clients
  • Negotiate settlements for clients for civil disputes
  • File appeals in federal and state courts
  • Prepare and draft legal documents
  • Prepare legal briefs and opinions
  • Draft new laws

Job Characteristics

Lawyers spend a substantial amount of time in offices, courtrooms and law libraries, although the Internet and legal databases are also valuable sources of information. Lawyers sometimes make visits to prisons and hospitals. Traveling is often part of the job due to attending meetings, collecting evidence, appearing in court and in front of other authorities.

Lawyers who earn a salary typically have structured work schedules. Lawyers who work in private practice often have irregular working hours. Also, they sometimes have to work significantly more than 40 hours per week. In addition, lawyers sometimes have to deal with heavy pressure when their case is being tried.

Employment Outlook

According to government statistics, in 2006 there were about 761,000 lawyer positions. About 27% of the lawyers were self-employed or practicing as a partner in a law firm. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the growth rate for lawyers will be about 11% from 2006 to 2016, which is about the average for all occupations. However, the growth rate for self-employed lawyers is projected to grow at a slow rate.

The growing population and higher level of business activity is projected to create more legal transactions, criminal cases and civil disputes. However, some law firms and corporations may not hire lawyers during a recession, yet their is typically a need for lawyer services during a recession for bankruptcies, divorces and foreclosures. In addition, lawyers are taking jobs where legal training is useful but not required such as management and administrative positions.

Competition for lawyer positions is expected to be strong due to the large number of graduates from law schools each year. Graduates with top-notch academic records from prestigious law schools will have the best opportunities to find employment. In addition, some of the work typically done by lawyers is being performed by accounting firms and paralegals.

The median annual earnings for wage and salaried lawyers combined in 2006 was $102,470. The salaries of experienced lawyers vary widely according to the size, location and type of employer.

Law Schools, Certification, and Licensing

The educational requirements for lawyers usually include a four-year college degree and three years of law school. In addition, federal courts and some agencies have their own qualifications for lawyers that practice law before them.

Being admitted to a law school depends on numerous factors including undergraduate grades, the quality of the undergraduate school, prior work experience and how well the applicant performed on the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). Also a personal interview is a factor for some law schools. All law schools which have been approved by the American Bar Association require applicants to take the LSAT. In addition, some law schools offer advanced law degrees and joint degree programs in numerous subjects.

During the first year or sometimes year and a half, students typically take basic law courses and later take specialized courses. Law students often acquire practical experience by participating in legal clinics sponsored by their law school. They also gain experience by participating in clinical programs and in moot court competitions provided by the law school. In addition, students can gain experience by participating in part-time or summer clerkships in law firms, corporate legal departments and government agencies.

The vast majority of the states require lawyers to be involved in mandatory continuing legal education. Many state and local bar associations as well as law schools offer continuing education. In some states, lawyers may earn continuing education credits by taking seminars on the Internet.

Lawyers must be licensed or admitted to the state bar in the states they have selected to practice law in. All states require that applicants seeking admission to the bar pass a written bar examination. In addition, most states also require applicants to pass a separate written ethics examination. In order to take the bar examination most states require the applicant to have a college degree and graduate from a law school which has been accredited by the American Bar Association or the proper state authorities. Many jurisdictions require law school graduates to pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination.


Major Employers

The major employers for lawyers include, law firms, the government, nonprofit organizations and corporations that have a law department. Banks, real estate agencies, insurance companies and manufacturing firms also employ lawyers.

Schools for Lawyers are listed in the Browse Schools Section.

Metro Areas Sorted by Total Employment for

Listed below are the 10 largest metro areas based on the total number of people employed in Lawyers jobs , as of 2016

Metro Area Total Employment Annual Mean Salary
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim 32,980 $165,350
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach 20,370 $139,040
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward 16,660 $176,880
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington 13,420 $154,240
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell 13,160 $144,660
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land 12,750 $175,380
Detroit-Warren-Dearborn 9,790 $113,740
Denver-Aurora-Lakewood 8,530 $145,020
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue 8,380 $136,280
Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale 7,960 $136,120

Compare Total Employment & Salaries for Lawyers

Use our handy tool to see what employment and salary numbers look like for two different metro areas

Select State
Select Metro Area 1
Select Metro Area 2

Total employment and salary for professions similar to lawyers

Source : 2016 Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, BLS.gov

Most Popular Industries for

These industries represent at least 1% of the total number of people employed in this occupation.

Industry Total Employment Percent Annual Median Salary
Professional And Technical Services 372,100 67% $116,820
Government 113,380 20% $92,880
Business Management 13,830 2% $145,770
Insurance 11,630 2% $110,340
Office Services And Staffing 7,190 1% $96,240
Non-profit 5,620 1% $95,940
Click the Visit School Site buttons to go directly to a school's website and learn more about the school and programs it has to offer. School website will open in a new tab.
Click the Request Info buttons to request more information from a representative at the school.
Results:  10
Matching School Ads
  • Which career path will you take – Business, Nursing, Education, Psychology? Something else? GCU offers more than 100 majors to get you started!
  • Colangelo College of Business: Features more than 25 programs from the bachelor through the master's level, including several high-demand MBA programs and an accelerated accounting degree.
  • College of Nursing and Health Care Professions: Rich 25-year history providing outstanding health care and nursing degree programs, including an RN to BSN program & master's in nursing degrees.
  • College of Education: Whether you are looking to start or advance your career as a teacher or administrator, GCU offers bachelor’s and master’s in education degrees in key areas.
  • College of Humanities and Social Sciences: Provides a job focused education and features a variety of programs from counseling and psychology to justice studies, history and English literature.
  • Does something else interest you? GCU also offers programs in Doctoral Studies; Theology; Science, Engineering & Technology; and Fine Arts & Production. Speak with an enrollment counselor today!
  • Dedicated to providing  career training since 1975.
  • Has 13 campus locations in Southern California and a campus in Morrow, GA.
  • Provides flexible class times including weekends.
  • Offers curriculum that ranges from 8 month diploma programs to 16-month Associate of Applied Science degree programs.
  • Has admissions professionals available to help students decide which diploma or degree program they should pursue.
  • Gives job placement assistance strengthened by relationships with local employers.
camnpus icon
San Marcos
Request Info
  • A part of the Select Education Group (SEG).
  • Offers several scholarship and financial aid opportunities for students who qualify.
  • California campuses accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC), and accreditation for the Salem campus from the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET).
  • 4 Campuses located in Clovis, Modesto, and Redding in California, and Salem, Oregon.
camnpus icon
Request Info

Founded in 1887, Benedictine University is dedicated to the education of undergraduate and graduate students. Benedictine is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA).

Benedictine University provides a values-centered Liberal Arts education. Today, Benedictine enrolls nearly 10,000 students from all 50 states in the US and over 17 countries.

Why Benedictine University Online?

  • Over 130 year legacy of academic excellence
  • Ranked among America's Top Colleges by "Forbes" Magazine
  • 91% of current students report they are satisfied or very satisfied with their learning experience
  • Part of the Delta Career Education Corporation.
  • Each campus features a public spa and/or salon where students can gain real-world experience.
  • 17 campuses across the United States, with online options as well.
  • Accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent colleges and Schools (ACICS), with programmatic accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).
  • Originally founded in 1916 in Wilmington, North Carolina by Judge Leon Motte.

Discover the Difference a Community of Support Makes in Your Educational Journey. From Application to Graduation, the Support You Need to Achieve Your Goals. 100% Online.

New England College was founded in 1946 to educate soldiers coming home from war. The same great support system that welcomed returning GIs is still a hallmark of NEC today. From enrollment services representatives who’ll guide you through the application process to interactive tools that help you collaborate with instructors and classmates, NEC inspires you to reach the milestones of your educational journey.

Regis University is a regionally accredited, 130-year-old Jesuit university in Denver, Colorado. Inspired by the vision of St. Ignatius Loyola, we are dedicated to the pursuit of learning and truth in an effort to make positive change in our communities as well as ourselves.

  • Allows students to transfer credits from non-U.S. colleges and universities after evaluation.
  • Has students attend one class at a time to ensure easy access to faculty and a more hands-on education.
  • Its main campus is located in Fort Lauderdale, with campuses located throughout the State of Florida and internationally. 
  • Provides a Department of Student Services and Resources that assists students with résumé preparation, interviewing skills coaching, mock interviewing, professional development workshops, and more.
  • Ranked among the 2015 Best National Universities by U.S. News & World Report.
  • Designated as a Military Friendly School every year since 2012 by Victory Media.
  • Offers credit for prior learning and experience through assessment tests.
  • Provides a short term Leadership Certification program in partnership with EQUIP®.
  • Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association (NCA).
  • A Los Angeles-based private college offering programs in medical sciences, legal studies, and graphic design since 1985.
  • Has weekend programs, including certified  veterinary technology, nurse assistant, and hemodialysis technician.
  • Showcases visual communication students’ artwork and design through campus magazine.
  • 3 campuses in Southern California.
  • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
camnpus icon
Request Info

We have some additional detailed pages at the state level for Lawyers.

Numbers in parentheses are counts of relevant campus-based schools in the state; online schools may also be available.

Back to Top