Skills required for practice:
Although there are a wide variety of areas in which to practice law, each field requires its lawyers to have:
- Excellent legal analysis
- Well-developed problem thinking skills, and
- Clear and persuasive writing.
Where do lawyers work?
51.1% Private Practice
18.4 % Business and Industry
11.5% Govt Employment/Military
9% Judicial Clerkships
7.1% Public interest
*Data from class of 2013 NALP employment statistics
Average Salary of a Lawyer
Starting salaries vary depending on type of law and location.
For those in the class of 2011 who disclosed their salary information:
Overall National Data
Private Practice – Big Firms
Small Firms (Over ½ of jobs)
$50,000 – $70,000 Salary
$45,000 Public Interest Organizations
$52,000 Judicial Clerks
Overall – Richardson School of Law – Salaries of Recent Graduates
Private Practice (27%)
Business / Other Professional (16%)
Judicial Clerkship (37%)
Public Interest (2%)
*Please note that salaries vary by state, city and the law school attended. Visit a law school’s website to find out the specific salary data that their recent graduates report.
As seen below, although the median salary is $78,000, most salaries pay less than $75,000 with only 34% making more than $75,000.
Choosing a Law Specialty
There are many different areas in which lawyers work. While it’s not necessary to know exactly which field is for you before law school, having an idea and doing some research will help you decide.
Some examples of legal practice areas: (listed alphabetically)
Once you are familiar with the different types of law, some areas may seem more interesting than others. Learning the law does not happen overnight and law school will not teach you everything about your specialty. You will use the knowledge from your undergraduate degree, professional experiences, and on-the-job training to become a specialized lawyer.
The best way to find out if you will truly enjoy a field is to try it out!
- Conduct informational interviews.
- Ask to shadow an attorney that does similar work.
- Work in a law office or work as an intern / extern with a judge, court, or administrative body of that specialty.
3 Types of Work
While many of the practice areas involve all three types of work, some areas of law focus more on litigation while others may primarily focus on regulatory or transactional matters.