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lawyers can earn a lot

July 23rd, 2016 at 05:05 pm

Wow I was reading a blog about someone's journey to biglaw and I had no idea that lawyers make so much money. I mean I knew they did I just didn't have a clue it was a public payscale.

1st year (class of 2015) – $180,000 ($160,000 + $20,000)
2nd year (class of 2014) – $190,000 ($170,000 + $20,000)
3rd year (class of 2013) – $210,000 ($185,000 +$25,000)
4th year (class of 2012) – $235,000 ($210,000 +$25,000)
5th year (class of 2011) – $260,000 ($230,000 + $30,000)
6th year (class of 2010) – $280,000 ($250,000 + $30,000)
7th year (class of 2009) – $300,000 ($265,000 + $35,000)
8th year (class of 2008) – $315,000 ($280,000 + $35,000)

8 years after you graduate you are making $300k. If you started at 25 making $180k and then by age 33 you are making over $300k. Seems crazy like a lot of money. No wonder so many friends I knew said lawyers make a lot.

Had you any clue they made this much? I know this is for biglaw and smaller firms pay less. But from reading the blog they don't make that much less necessarily.

I wouldn't do it unless I like it. But it certainly is food for thought about telling my kids if they want to go into law, they could easily be like Mr Money Mustache and retire very, very early.

10 Responses to “lawyers can earn a lot”

  1. greenleaf Says:

    I would caution though that you have to 1) go to a top law school and 2) graduate high enough in your class to land a top job with a good firm after getting competitive internships while in school. Several of my friends went to law school (good schools) and some still face unemployment with huge student loans because there is a excess of law school grads for available jobs in this country. Unless you have a job lined up in a family business or want to be a public lawyer, I would strongly caution anybody against paying for anything except a big name law school- people think they can go to Local Law School and get a job making $200,000 out of the gate, but the actual employment numbers are scary.

  2. ceejay74 Says:

    My downstairs neighbor got out of law and his impression is you could be a millionaire but have no quality of life in terms of downtime. So much work, so many hours, so much stress. Those who have kids have very little quality time with them. Lots of hard drinkers and drug users as well. So you could retire early if you were willing to have no life for X amount of years. Or you spend wildly and party wildly on your paltry downtime and get to a lifestyle where you'd find it hard to retire.

    I'm sure there are other stories, but these are the stories my friend tells about his old law friends. Of course there are probably many who make it work in big law firms. This is one person's friend group.

  3. Janelle Says:

    I presently work part-time as the business manager for a small local law firm. While our firm tries hard for quality work/life balance, the workload makes it a huge challenge. Of the 22 attorneys in my firm, just 4 are currently married, 6 are divorced, and the rest are not married and have no immediate plans to try to go down that road. My receptionist and I are the only ones who have children, and my kids are at 29 and 30 are almost the same age as many in the firm. I hear from the associates that this is the best place they have ever worked and they are so happy to have stable jobs, because locally there is a glut of unemployed attorneys. I know - our recent recruiting brought forth no less than 400 resumes for 2 positions.

  4. crazyliblady Says:

    I would caution you against steering your kids into any line work whether it is law or something else. They not only need to have the aptitude, but also interest in the subject and desire to study it for an extended time. After all, it's quite possible they will be in that line of work for 20 or 30 years or more. I was pushed by my mother into going into "something medical" so that I "could get a job." Getting a job is not the full measure of success and some jobs are better than others. Money just makes it easier to buy stuff.

  5. crazyliblady Says:

    I want to add that as of nearly 6 years ago, I no longer speak to my mother. She can't handle me making my own decisions and living the life I want. So, why she thinks she was trying to make sure I "have the best of everything" and am "happy" I was not happy at all. And having the best of everything is extremely over-rated.

  6. LivingAlmostLarge Says:

    I wondered if I made a mistake for myself after seeing those salaries. I think it might be an interesting job. Nope not going to push the kids into anything. I will probably tell them about all the mistakes DH and I made in picking our paths. Not financial really, of course if we were more serious we could be FIRE already, but we chose what we wanted to do.

    Janelle, very interesting about your small law firm. I'm curious what percentage of lawyers make that much money or close to big law money though. Seems like a lot from the way lawyers spend it.

  7. Janelle Says:

    I'll tell you right now none of our associates make that kind of money, but again, our firm is small in comparison to other firms around town. The partners/shareholders do pretty well for themselves, but again, we could be bigger and busier if money were their first consideration.

  8. Lawyer Says:

    Very, very few make the $180k mark. I am seven years out of school and just broke $100k this year. I went to a regionally respected (but not top tier) school, graduating seventh in my class of 107. Only a handful of my classmates got Biglaw jobs; I'd say less than half of them are still there 7-8 years out. And not because they were able to retire early. And don't forget that many are servicing student loan debt of $100k-$200k.

    Also law firms are notorious for letting attorneys go at the drop of a hat. Personality conflict? Gone. Not enough hours? Gone.

    I truly do love the law, but there are times where I wonder if it loves me back.

  9. PatientSaver Says:

    I think the pay really varies, as it does for other professions. If you're a lawyer working for state govt, for instance, I'm betting the pay is substantially lower. That being said, I learned not long ago that the lawyer I used for my mother's condo closing (his paralegal did the work and it cost just $500) charges $750 an hour when he's doing the work. I almost fell off my chair.

  10. LivingAlmostLarge Says:

    Yes well I think we need a lawyer.

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