In the United States, lawyers win an annual salary of $81,818 per year. Meanwhile, Canadian lawyers earn around C$72,863 ($54,975) every year. The lawyer salary stands at £47,783 ($62,137) per year in the United Kingdom, and in Australia, the pay for the same professional stands at AU$69,287 ($51,025) every year.
Lawyers living in Switzerland win about CHF138,920 ($139,058) per year, while those working in Norway make NOK1,022,553 ($124,255) per year. Learn below how experience, the nature of the legal profession and location influence the pay of lawyers.
Lawyer Salary Influencers
Experience and the size of the firm play major roles in shaping the pay of lawyers. Other influencers include whether the lawyer works in the public or private sector and the types of cases or clients the lawyer may take on.
This legal profession features a diverse field of practice areas and types of employers. Areas of practice range from general to specific specialties, such as international law, bankruptcy and environmental. There are also different types of employers of lawyers. The type of employer can determine the salary, benefits, and bonuses. The largest employers of lawyers in 2016 were:
- Legal services – 48%
- Self-employed workers – 20%
- Local government, excluding education and hospitals – 7%
- State government, excluding education and hospitals – 6%
- Federal government – 5%
2. Geographical Area
|Hourly Wage||$48.71||C$39.66 ($29.92)||£20.00 ($26.02)||AU$33.48 ($24.66)||CHF66.88* ($66.96)||NOK493 ($59.79)|
|Annual Wage||$81,818||C$72,863 ($54,975)||£47,783 ($62,137)||AU$69,287 ($51,025)||CHF138,920 ($139,058)||NOK1,022,553 ($124,255)|
*The hourly pay was extrapolated from the annual salary.
Lawyer Salary in the US
The Bureau of Labor Statistics says lawyers in the United States earn $119,250 per year. One in four lawyers made more than $174,280 and one in 10 earned over $187,200 per year. Meanwhile, Payscale reports the salary for this same professional as $81,818 every year.
Lawyer Salary in Canada
Lawyers in Canada make C$72,863 per year. After bonuses that range between C$509 and C$19,750, as well as profit sharing between C$48.48 and C$49,833, and even commision of up to C$1,000 each year, the total annual pay for this professional ranges between C$46,394 and C$139,874.
Lawyer Salary in the UK
For lawyers working in the United Kingdom, the hourly pay is at £20.00, with an hourly overtime rate that can reach about £33.00. The median pay for this professional is at £47,783 per year, having a total annual salary that ranges between £24,961 and £100,792.
Lawyer Salary in Australia
According to PayScale, lawyers from Australia earn a median annual pay of AU$69,287. While the salary for a solicitor is similar to that of a lawyer, at AU$63,867 per year, prosecutors and barristers make more every year, AU$85,000, respectively AU$96,923 each year.
Lawyer Salary in Switzerland
The yearly lawyer salary in Switzerland stands at CHF138,920, with bonuses of up to CHF12,500 and profit sharing of up to CHF16,000 each year. With a total pay for this professional ranging between CHF51,651 and CHF1,183,591 per year.
Lawyer Salary in Norway
In Norway, the pay stands at NOK493 per hour, and NOK1,022,553 per year, with this professional, also winning an average yearly bonus of up to NOK69,227. Meanwhile, an entry-level lawyer can win about NOK704,259 per year, while a senior-level professional in this field can make as much as NOK1,275,365 each year.
Prior to graduation from law school, students typically obtain experience as interns or summer clerks. Work may include legal research and drafting pleadings and other legal documents under a lawyer’s supervision. Depending on the jurisdiction and law school, students can also take on certain cases in school-run legal clinics under a lawyer’s or law school professor’s supervision.
For new lawyers employed in firms, nonprofit legal service providers, and government agencies, assignments may consist of research, drafting documents and working under a senior lawyer. As experience accumulates, the lawyer obtains more autonomy over selecting clients or handling cases. With experience also comes advancement to higher-paid positions or partnerships.
In the United Kingdom, graduates of law school must have three years experience to become a solicitor. Non-graduates can qualify with four or six years, depending on whether the candidate has some graduate degree. Additionally, a period of training, called “pupilage” is required to become a barrister in the United Kingdom.
Lawyers normally work full-time, often in excess of 40 hours per week. Actual hours worked per week can vary. Lawyers face especially longer work days when trying to meet deadlines, prepare for trial and conduct a trial. Those who appear before and work for local governments or boards might have evening meetings.
Bonuses & Benefit Packages
Lawyers, especially in medium or large-size firms, may find bonuses based on performance and experience. For instance, PayScale says bonuses for US lawyers range from $512 to $29,271 per year, these professionals can also win profit sharing between $53.00 and $34,255, as well as commisions of up to $48,479 per year. While those working in the UK win bonuses between £997 and £13,702 each year, and a profit sharing of up to £69,038 yearly.
The level of bonuses may be impacted by general economic conditions, as businesses and other clients might reduce or avoid unnecessary legal services in lean times. Government agencies may incentivize performance or longevity. For example, Justice Canada affords performance bonuses, while the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps advertises $60,000 bonus for eligible officers in the program.
In the United States and Canada, benefits such as pension and vacation pay are left in the employer’s discretion. Lawyers employed by firms in Norway, Australia and Switzerland are entitled to vacation or holiday pay. Norwegian law affords occupational pension and insurance to employed attorneys. While in Switzerland, employees participate in a pension that involves three pillars.
Demand for lawyers should remain as strong as that for any other jobs, which is at 8% from 2016 to 2026, according to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, meaning 65,000 new job positions. Individuals seek lawyers to handle criminal, family and other civil disputes. Businesses need legal counsel to navigate increasingly complex regulations and statutes and negotiate transactions.
Depending on the country, better prospects might lie in being self-employed, either in a partnership or sole practice. In fact, 80 percent of barristers in the United Kingdom have their own practices. Meanwhile, through November 2019, Australia should have up to 5,000 additional job openings for attorneys, with job growth being moderate through November 2020. However, finding work in a prosecutor’s office or government body may be limited by budgetary concerns.
To conclude, compensation for lawyers will depend on the size of the firm and experience. In especially larger firms, larger compensation and bonuses rise with performance and longevity. While for self-employed lawyers, pay will come from the fees they charge for services. You can also look at the judge salary if interested in this field. Job prospects will depend upon economic conditions, the ability of firms to hire new lawyers and budgets of public sector employers.