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What are the highest-paying legal jobs?

What Are The Highest-Paying Legal Jobs?

What Are The Highest-Paying Legal Jobs?
Reading Time: 4 minutes

The legal industry is growing at a high pace. The need for legal experts and lawyers in almost every process individuals, businesses, and governments are in demand for their services. Being aware of the highest-paying legal jobs and other occupational insights is beneficial for those recruiting for or looking to get into the industry.

Though there’s still an intense debate about what tasks and responsibilities should be performed by human resources of their AI counterparts, employment for law jobs is expected to grow by 9% from 2020 to 2030. This percentage will result in approximately 116,600 openings per year.

But that’s enough for contextualization. Let’s get into what you’re really here to find out, the best-paying law jobs.

Top 5 highest-paying legal jobs

Judges and Hearing Officers

Median yearly salary: $128,710

Median hourly wage: $61.88 

The first position of the top-paying legal jobs goes to one of the leading authorities during a legal process. To understand their importance and why it’s one of the highest paying legal careers, remember one of your fundamental rights as a citizen: the right to a fair trial. Their responsibilities to guarantee this include conducting pretrial hearings, resolving administrative disputes, facilitating negotiations between parties, and issuing legal decisions. 

What you need: 

  • Entry-level education: Doctoral or professional degree plus work experience as a lawyer.
  • Work experience in related occupation: 5 years or more
  • On-the-job training: Short-term on-the-job training

Something else to consider is their projected employment growth, which is 3% from 2020 to 2030; despite this number, about 2,200 job openings are expected for each year over the decade.

Lawyers

Median yearly salary: $127,990

Median hourly wage: $61.54 

If the first place goes to the people responsible for applying the law, then follow-up might have been easy to guess in the list of highest-paying legal jobs. Lawyers represent individuals, businesses, and government agencies during a legal dispute. Their field of work can go from private and corporate legal offices to federal, local, or state governments. Attorney’s job outlook is to grow 9% from 2020 to 2030, representing around 46,000 job openings for lawyers each year. 

What you need: 

  • Entry-level education: Doctoral or professional degree plus passing state’s bar examination.
  • Work experience in related occupation: None
  • On-the-job training: None

Another aspect to consider is that the type of law practiced by the lawyer will impact the median salary. Below you’ll find some of the highest-paid lawyer specializations:

  1. Patent attorney
  2. Intellectual property (IP) attorney
  3. Trial lawyer
  4. Tax attorney
  5. Corporate lawyer
  6. Employment lawyer
  7. Real Estate attorney
  8. Divorce attorney
  9. Immigration attorney
  10. Estate attorney

Court Reporters and Simultaneous Captioners

Median yearly salary: $60,380

Median hourly wage: $29.03 

All the work made by judges and lawyers during trials would be lost in time if it wasn’t for the people in charge of keeping the record. This task is performed by Court Reporters -who create word-for-word transcriptions of trials, depositions, and other legal proceedings- and Simultaneous Captioners, whose function is to provide similar transcriptions for television, press conferences, business meetings, or even people who are hard of hearing. Who would’ve thought that a list of top-paying legal careers would include a profession where a law degree isn’t even needed?

What you need: 

  • Entry-level education: Postsecondary nondegree award, or certification
  • Work experience in related occupation: None
  • On-the-job training: Short-term on-the-job training

Similar to a judge’s job outlook, these careers are expected to grow by 3% during the current decade. This percentage represents around 2,100 job openings for court reporters and simultaneous captioners per year.

Paralegals and Legal Assistants 

Median yearly salary: $56,230

Median hourly wage: $27.03 

Speaking of high-paying legal jobs that don’t require a law degree, the fourth place from the top is for Paralegals and Legal Assistants. Have you ever wondered: how much do paralegals make? Or what does a paralegal do? Well, they support lawyers by gathering case facts, writing reports, scheduling meetings, or preparing documents before a trial. All with a median yearly salary of $56,320.

  • Entry-level education: Associate’s degree
  • Work experience in related occupation: None
  • On-the-job training: None

The expected growth during this decade for paralegals and legal assistants is 12%, a slightly higher number than the average. This is good news for those interested in one of these positions since approximately 43,000 openings per year are projected.

Judicial Law Clerks

Median yearly salary: $50,750

Median hourly wage: $24.40 

Last but not least, among the top 5 highest-paying legal jobs are Law Clerks. Like paralegals or legal assistants, they assist judges by conducting research, preparing legal documents, and analyzing complex legal issues. Since this is an entry-level position, it’s usually filled by law students or recent law school graduates who want to transition into the legal job market and develop contacts and relationships.

  • Entry-level education: Doctoral or professional degree
  • Work experience in related occupation: None
  • On-the-job training: None

The projected employment change is not as enthusiastic as it is for paralegals. 600 openings are expected for each year of the decade, which represents a 4% growth.

And a bonus…

Arbitrators, Mediators, and Conciliators

Median yearly salary: $49,410

Median hourly wage: $23.76 

Out of the top 5 but with quite good salaries are arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators whose job is to facilitate negotiation and dialogue between opposing parties to resolve the conflict outside a courtroom. The growth projection for this position — 10% for 2020-2030 — is as fast as the average for all occupations, with about 400 openings expected per year

  • Entry-level education: Bachelor’s degree
  • Work experience in related occupation: Less than 5 years
  • On-the-job training: Moderate-term on-the-job training

As you can see, the future is bright for the legal industry, both for the number of openings projected for the current decade and the yearly salary offered by most of these positions. 

Law occupations are challenging and have periods of heavy pressure. If you’re willing to make a career change and accomplish your goals, be confident that you have what it takes to get the job done. Get in contact with a gpac recruiter for advice on how to start your path toward a legal career!

gpac: Find Jobs

Contributed by Luis Arellano

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