How Much Does Lawyers Make A Month? Find Out Now!

Lawyers’ salaries can vary quite significantly depending on several key factors. This article will provide a comprehensive overview of the typical monthly salary range for lawyers in the United States, as well as thoroughly discuss the different elements that impact how much a lawyer earns.

Factors Affecting Lawyer Salaries

There are a few main factors that influence how much money lawyers make each month:


More experienced lawyers tend to command higher salaries. Lawyers just starting out in the profession have lower earnings, but their income potential increases as they gain more expertise and seniority. For example:

  • Entry-level associates – Lawyers just joining a firm or company typically start around $5,000 to $8,000 per month. They are still gaining on-the-job experience and developing their legal skills.
  • Mid-level associates – With 4-6 years of experience, lawyers’ salaries usually rise to $8,000 to $12,000 monthly. At this point, they have solid experience that commands higher earnings.
  • Senior associates – Lawyers with 6-10+ years experience often make approximately $10,000 to $15,000 per month. Their extensive expertise allows them to take on more complex, higher-paying work.

Additionally, as lawyers are promoted to higher positions, their salaries also see a boost. For example, junior partners may earn $15,000 to $25,000 per month, while senior partners can make well over $30,000+ per month at large firms. So as lawyers gain more expertise and rise through the ranks, their earning potential typically increases substantially.


Salaries for lawyers can vary drastically depending on geographic location. Lawyers working in major metropolitan areas and big legal markets tend to earn much more than those practicing in small towns and rural areas. Some examples:

  • Lawyers in New York City average around $10,000 to $20,000 per month, with top earners making far more. The massive legal market and high cost of living drive salaries up.
  • Lawyers in Chicago and Los Angeles also command around $10,000 to $20,000 monthly, similar to NYC. Major metro areas pay well.
  • In mid-size Midwest cities like Cleveland or St. Louis, average monthly lawyer salaries are typically in the $5,000 to $10,000 range. Lower cost of living decreases pay.
  • Lawyers practicing in small rural towns often only earn $2,000 to $5,000 per month. There is lower demand and pay due to the tiny markets.

So lawyers’ earning potential often comes down to supply and demand economics based on location. Urban lawyers consistently out-earn rural lawyers by large margins.

Practice Area

Beyond location, a lawyer’s practice area or specialization also greatly impacts monthly salary. Lawyers going into more lucrative fields see the highest incomes. For example:

  • Patent lawyers earn at the top of the pay scale, often making $15,000 to $30,000 per month due to their technical expertise.
  • Corporate lawyers at large firms take home around $10,000 to $20,000 monthly. Dealing with high-value business contracts pays well.
  • Tax lawyers also earn top dollar, averaging $12,000 to $18,000 per month. Their specialized skills are in demand.
  • At the other end, family lawyers often only make $3,000 to $10,000 per month, depending on location and experience.
  • Criminal lawyers earn somewhat low for lawyers, around $4,000 to $8,000 monthly. Crime doesn’t pay as well.
  • Personal injury lawyers have widely varying incomes since they often work on contingency, but averages are around $7,000 to $12,000 monthly. Settlement amounts impact pay.

So lawyers going into more lucrative specialties like tax, patents, and corporate law have much higher earning potential in the profession.

Firm Size

The size of the law firm a lawyer works for also influences potential income. Lawyers working at large, prestigious, multi-national law firms frequently make more money than lawyers working for small firms and solo practices. There are several reasons behind this salary discrepancy:

  • Large firms take on bigger, higher-paying cases. Their resources, manpower, and brand reputation allow them to handle complex litigation and corporate transactions that small firms simply can’t, commanding top dollar.
  • Big firms attract richer clients who can pay premium rates. Large corporations and the ultra-wealthy seek them out specifically.
  • Overhead costs are distributed across more lawyers. Smaller firms have higher overhead costs per lawyer, reducing individuals’ earnings.
  • Name brand reputation. There is prestige associated with big firms that attracts talent.
  • More opportunities for advancement. Large firms have more junior and senior level positions allowing motivated lawyers to move up.

For these reasons, lawyers working at large, internationally-known firms tend to earn more – often upwards of $20,000+ per month once bonuses are factored in. Meanwhile, small firm lawyers earn more modest incomes in the $5,000 to $10,000 monthly range. However, they often have advantages like better work/life balance.

Average Monthly Salary Range

Taking into account all of the factors and data points above, the typical monthly salary range for lawyers in the United States is approximately $8,386 to $13,648, depending on experience, location, specialty, and firm size. Salaries on the lower and higher ends are certainly not uncommon though based on these variables. Some public sector lawyers make far less than $8,386 monthly, while big firm senior partners take home far more than $13,648 per month on average. But that mid-five figure range represents a decent standard across the profession when aggregating data nationwide.

Salary Dispersion

While the average monthly income for lawyers falls between $8,386 – $13,648, there is significant variation around this range based on:

  • Location (urban vs rural)
  • Years of experience (entry-level vs senior)
  • Practice area (corporate vs family law)
  • Public vs private sector
  • Firm size

Salaries tend to skew towards the higher end of the pay scale for lawyers working in major metro areas, with 10+ years experience, specializing in lucrative fields like tax or patent law, employed by large prestigious firms.

On the other end of the spectrum, public sector and legal aid lawyers often fall well below the average salary range, earning as low as $3,000 – $5,000 monthly in some cases. Solo practitioners also tend to earn less than big firm lawyers on average.

In summary, there is high salary dispersion across the legal profession. While the “typical” lawyer earns around $8,386 – $13,648 per month, based on key differentiators, salaries range from well under $5,000 to well over $20,000+ monthly. The field has extremely high pay variance overall.

Cost of Living

The salary ranges and averages discussed above represent nationwide figures. However, it’s important to note that cost of living makes a major impact on real wages. For example:

  • A lawyer making $10,000/month in New York City may struggle to get by and live comfortably due to NYC’s sky-high cost of living. $10K would barely cover basic living expenses.
  • Meanwhile, $5,000/month in rural Kansas affords a much more comfortable, middle-class lifestyle than the same $5K in NYC. Lower costs mean higher real income.

The same holds true when comparing different metro areas like San Francisco and Nashville, or Miami and Minneapolis. While they may offer similar lawyer salaries on paper, the actual purchasing power of those salaries varies greatly based on how far that money goes towards housing, food, transportation, and other living expenses.

Therefore, while the broad salary ranges and averages provide a good nationwide benchmark for lawyer earnings, regional costs of living are a major factor that impact real income value. $100K in the Midwest goes a lot further than $100K in Manhattan. This must be considered when evaluating lawyer salary data.

Salary Caps

While big firm lawyers have almost unlimited earning potential, some legal jobs have strict salary caps that limit the income possibilities. Two main examples are public defenders and government lawyers.

Because they are employed by the government in taxpayer-funded roles, typical salary caps are:

  • Public defenders – Average around $60,000 per year, or $5,000 per month. Some cities pay more, while rural defenders earn less. But there are salary limitations.
  • Government lawyers – Usually top out around $70,000 to $90,000 annually, or up to $7,500 – $7,700 per month on average. There are defined pay scales.

So lawyers working for the public sector generally earn much less than private firm lawyers. Partners at big firms can easily make over $250,000 per year, whereas government and public defenders have strict salary caps around $60K – $90K. The earning potential is much more limited.

Taxes and Benefits

An important note regarding the salary ranges mentioned is that they represent lawyers’ pre-tax income. Federal, state, and city taxes eat up a chunk of gross pay. However, lawyers also typically receive benefits that enhance total compensation, including:

  • Health insurance – Law firms cover a portion or all of lawyers’ health insurance premiums.
  • Retirement plans – Most lawyers are offered 401K plans and contributions from their employer.
  • Profit sharing – Law firm partners receive profits from the firm’s earnings.
  • Bonuses – End-of-year bonuses are common, especially at large firms.

Associates at big firms can expect bonuses ranging from $10,000 – $100,000+ depending on firm profits and performance. Equity partners may take home seven-figure bonuses in high-performing years.

So when assessing a lawyer’s full compensation, bonuses, profit sharing distributions, and other benefits add substantial value beyond just the base salary amount. Benefits easily tack on 30% or more to total compensation.

Job Outlook

The current job outlook for lawyers in the United States is moderately positive. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for lawyers is projected to grow 6% from 2020 to 2030. This keeping pace with the average for all occupations, signaling decent job growth and opportunities in the legal profession.

However, job prospects can vary by location and specialty. Lawyers in major urban areas like New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago will face lots of competition for top jobs at prestigious firms. Meanwhile, rural areas desperate for legal services may offer new lawyers more opportunities.

By practice area, fields like cybersecurity and corporate law are likely to see strong growth in line with rising demand. Slower growth is expected for areas like real estate and wills & trusts as transactions decline.

But overall, as the economy expands and new legal issues emerge, enough opportunities will continue surfacing for new graduates entering the profession. The legal job market outlook remains positive.


In conclusion, while average lawyer salaries range around $8,386 to $13,648 monthly, actual incomes vary drastically based on experience, location, specialization, public vs private sector, and law firm size. Cost of living also significantly impacts real earnings. While some public defenders make $3,000 a month, big firm partners can rake in over $30,000. Overall, the legal profession offers high income potential, but with extremely wide variance based on key factors. Individual lawyers’ earning power depends heavily on their qualifications and career choices. While competitive, the future job outlook remains reasonably bright for aspiring lawyers nationwide.