Where Do Lawyers Work & What Are Salaries Like Now?
According to the American Bar Foundation's 2005 Lawyer Statistical Report (updated in January 2012), pp. 7–8:
- 75 percent of American lawyers are in private practice; of these
- 62 percent work as solo practitioners or in offices of 5 or fewer lawyers,
- 18 percent work in offices of between 6 and 50 lawyers, and
- 20 percent work in firms of more than 50 lawyers.
- 7.5 percent of the profession work for government agencies.
- 8.5 percent work for private industries and associations as salaried lawyers or as managers.
- 1 percent work for legal aid or as public defenders.
- 1 percent work in legal education.
- 2.5 percent work in the judiciary.
- 4.4 percent are retired or inactive.
Many lawyers develop expertise in a particular field of law (link to http://www.lsac.org/jd/thinking-about-law-school/fields-of-law). Large law firms that provide a full range of legal services tend to employ more specialists. The solo practitioner, who must handle a variety of problems alone, may have greater opportunity to work in several areas. Of course, there are lawyers in large firms who maintain general practices, and lawyers in one-person offices who concentrate on a particular legal issue. Both specialized and general practice can be rewarding. One offers the satisfaction of mastering a particular legal discipline, and the other the challenge of exploring new fields.