Where does a Lawyer Work in america

where do lawyer work

Walking into a richly decorated office or walking into a courtroom are the typical places where lawyers work. But where does a lawyer work besides the actual places where the lawyers provide their legal services?

Let’s explore some of the places to hire lawyers after graduating from law school.


Lawyers can work at any of the following three levels of government:

  1. Local government
  2. State government
  3. Federal government

Depending on where the lawyer works, there are different roles and responsibilities. Government attorneys can be any of the following:

  • Prosecutors
  • District attorneys
  • State attorney generals
  • Public defenders

Lawyers who work for the government can work for almost every government agency out there. From Homeland Security to the Environmental Protection Agency to the IRS, attorneys have many career opportunities in government.

In some situations, attorneys may need to assist with legal research to pass legislation or create government policies.

Average salary for federal government attorneys: $110,720

Law Firm Attorneys

Many attorneys pursue careers in incorporated law firms. Start as an associate to develop your legal skills by working with experienced attorneys who have been practicing for years. Law firms choose their attorneys based on the school they attend and the experience they have.

After several years with the firm, you may be considered an associate for a partnership. Becoming a partner carries significantly more responsibility than becoming a shareholder in the company.

Average Salary for Lawyers:  $135,830

In-House Attorneys

where does a lawyer work
where does a lawyer work

In-house lawyers employed by a single client are affected. Clients are typically large corporations that require a referral attorney who is available for various internal legal needs. Many companies have their own legal department that deals with various legal situations that the company faces. These in-house counsels may be responsible for:

  • Addressing any of the company‚Äôs employment issues
  • Handling litigations with another law firm if the company is sued
  • Acting as a lobbyist to influence legislation in favor of the company

Working for a company or large corporation typically offers a higher salary and more flexibility in terms of time than other attorneys who are self-employed or in a law firm. Finding an in-house attorney position can occur when a company continues to hire an attorney from a law firm and, after establishing a relationship, offers a permanent position.

Average salary for legal services in the alcohol industry: $179,950

Private Practice (Only Practitioners)

Some lawyers may decide to start their own business after gaining a few years of experience. Instead of becoming a part owner of a company, they start their own or become a freelancer.

Many attorneys work in private practice, and certain who practice freelance work by default tend to have significantly greater professional responsibilities. For a solo attorney to survive, he must market his legal services himself. To find clients, some attorneys may set up a website, start a blog, or use paid advertising methods.

Lawyers usually bill their clients at an hourly rate or in increments of one minute (ie 10 minutes at a time). It is the lawyer’s responsibility to closely monitor the time they allocate to their clients in order to properly bill them.

Average hourly rate for attorneys: $56.81

Public Interest Lawyers

Paralegal groups, which are often private, not-for-profit organizations, provide legal services to disadvantaged people. The attorneys found here aim to help poor people and other minorities with limited access to legal services.

Public Interest Lawyers (PBL) cases are mentioned in:

  • Illegal discrimination
  • Environmental protection
  • Child welfare
  • Domestic violence

From time to time, these attorneys may attempt to change laws to improve society as a whole. While public interest attorneys are an important resource for helping people, the salary for these attorneys is minimal. Nonprofit organizations often struggle to maintain funds to help people in need. For this reason, these offered organizational internships for law school undergraduates and graduates to gain hands-on legal experience.

Median Starting PBL Salaries: Under $43,000


Not all licensed attorneys aspire to a career in law. You can find some lawyers showing their studies and pursuing higher education in various fields of law.

These attorneys (and also seasoned attorneys seeking a break from their profession) may teach at law schools, universities, and other educational institutions. Alternatively, practicing attorneys can take part-time teaching jobs and publish their own personal law-related research.

Estimated number of lawyers (2016): 619,530

Judicial Clerkship

Here is another common place where recent law school graduates can be found. Court internships offered prospective attorneys 1-2 years of experience working with a judge. Each judge can work with up to 4 clerks. The main duties of a secretary include:

  • Legal research
  • Document drafting
  • Developing opinions
  • Attend hearings and trials
  • Prepare trial memoranda
  • And many more legal tasks

Legal internships offer legal professionals the opportunity to gain valuable experience that can help land them a position with a higher-paying law firm. In some places, permanent positions are possible for clerks.

Benchmark for Average Lawyer Salaries: Bureau of Labor Statistics

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