Represent clients in criminal and civil litigation and other legal proceedings, draw up legal documents, or manage or advise clients on legal transactions. May specialize in a single area or may practice broadly in many areas of law.
Employment and Wages
- Total Employment: 543,810
- Average Annual Salary: $105,080
- Average Hourly Rate: $50.52
Hourly Wage Distribution
- Total Employment (2010): 728,200
- Total Employment Projected (2020): 801,800
- Percent Job Growth: 10.10%
- Percent That Are Self-Employed: (2010): 22%
Common Educational Backgrounds
- Doctoral Degree
- First Professional Degree - awarded for completion of a program that: requires at least 2 years of college work before entrance into the program, includes a total of at least 6 academic years of work to complete, and provides all remaining academic requirements to begin practice in a profession
- Represent clients in court or before government agencies.
- Present evidence to defend clients or prosecute defendants in criminal or civil litigation.
- Select jurors, argue motions, meet with judges and question witnesses during the course of a trial.
- Study Constitution, statutes, decisions, regulations, and ordinances of quasi-judicial bodies to determine ramifications for cases.
- Interpret laws, rulings and regulations for individuals and businesses.
- Present and summarize cases to judges and juries.
- Prepare legal briefs and opinions, and file appeals in state and federal courts of appeal.
- Analyze the probable outcomes of cases, using knowledge of legal precedents.
- Examine legal data to determine advisability of defending or prosecuting lawsuit.
- Evaluate findings and develop strategies and arguments in preparation for presentation of cases.
- Advise clients concerning business transactions, claim liability, advisability of prosecuting or defending lawsuits, or legal rights and obligations.
- Gather evidence to formulate defense or to initiate legal actions, by such means as interviewing clients and witnesses to ascertain the facts of a case.
- Negotiate settlements of civil disputes.
- Prepare and draft legal documents, such as wills, deeds, patent applications, mortgages, leases, and contracts.
- Confer with colleagues with specialties in appropriate areas of legal issue to establish and verify bases for legal proceedings.
- Supervise legal assistants.
- Perform administrative and management functions related to the practice of law.
- Extensive skill, knowledge, and experience are needed for these occupations. Many require more than five years of experience. For example, surgeons must complete four years of college and an additional five to seven years of specialized medical training to be able to do their job.
- Most of these occupations require graduate school. For example, they may require a master's degree, and some require a Ph.D., M.D., or J.D. (law degree).
- Job Training
- Employees may need some on-the-job training, but most of these occupations assume that the person will already have the required skills, knowledge, work-related experience, and/or training.
- These occupations often involve coordinating, training, supervising, or managing the activities of others to accomplish goals. Very advanced communication and organizational skills are required. Examples include librarians, lawyers, aerospace engineers, wildlife biologists, school psychologists, surgeons, treasurers, and controllers.
Related Degrees and Programs
Source: O*NET 2011; BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook 2011