How Much Money do Lawyers Make

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					                                                Career Discoveries in Law
                                                     James Shepard
                                           Leadership Career Discoveries Group
                                                       March 2007

                                                                                   Summary:             On March 2nd 2007, Journalist and Author Anne Coulter referred to presidential candidate
                                                                                   John Edwards as a “faggot” in front of thousands of people. This kind of discriminatory attitude that is prevalent
                                                                                   in today’s society is the kind of mindset I want to punish as an attorney. A career in law is filled with long hours,
                                                                                   hard work, and responsibility. With it comes excellent pay, high prestige, and every once in a while- the chance
                                                                                   to see justice being done. The journey will be difficult- three years of law school on top of college, plus at least
                                                                                   ten years in a firm before making partner- but as Hunter S. Thompson once wrote “who is the happier man, he
                                                                                   who has braved the storm of life and lived, or he who has stayed securely on shore and merely existed?” (qtd. In
                                                                                   Perry 16).

       Photo Courtesy of Google Images

     Methodology: How does one become an attorney? How much money do attorneys make? What exactly does an attorney even do? In
     researching a career in law, these were my driving questions. Researched online in depth, and talked to Paul Gerowitz who was a guest speaker for
     my discussion section.

                  What does an attorney do?: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics “attorneys, act as both advocates and advisors
                  in our society. As advocates, they represent one of the parties in criminal and civil trials by presenting evidence and arguing in court to
                  support their client. As advisors, lawyers counsel their clients concerning their legal rights and obligations and suggest particular courses
                  of action in business and personal matters.” In short, an attorney’s job is to give council to his or her client about matters pertaining to the
                  law. To be able to give advice on a broad range of possible topics, one must be a voracious learner. For an attorney, learning and mastering
                  the law only starts in law school.

How much money does
                                                                                                                                         How does one become an attorney?: According
an attorney make?: Like                                                                                                                  to the State Bar of California website, several criteria are required to
most fields, there is a vast disparity in                                                                                                become an attorney in California. One must be at least 18 years old, have
what attorneys make per year                                                                                                             completed two years of undergraduate work (or passed equivalency
nationwide. A partner in a prestigious                                                                                                   tests), and have graduated from an accredited law school. In addition one
firm might make several million, while a                                                                                                 must have passed the state bar exam, and received a “positive ‘moral
still-green law school graduate might                                                                                                    character’ determination.”(Cal Bar). A moral character determination is a
only make fifty thousand. According to                                                                                                   series of tests to see that one is an ethical and honest person. While three
The National Association for Law                                                                                                         years of law school is often preferred, in the state of California there are
Placement, the median pay for all first                                                                                                  other options. One could study law under a judge or lawyer for at least
year attorneys straight out of law school                          Graph courtesy of                                                     four years to meet the requirement.
is one hundred thousand dollars a year.                            s.html

That number goes down for attorneys
joining small law firms of 2-25 attorneys
to sixty seven thousand a year, and goes
up for attorneys joining large firms in                                                                                                  Conclusions:                Ever since I was a little kid, people have
the excess of 500 attorneys to one                                                                                                       always told me I should be an attorney. Maybe it was my love of
hundred and twenty five thousand a                                                                                                       verbal debate, or my strange love of finding loop holes in rules.
year. (Collins). As can be shown on the                                                                                                  Looking at the long road in front of me- the late nights, tedious work,
graph to the right, legal services have                                                                                                  and extra three years of school- I know that life as an attorney will be
experienced a proportional growth to                                                                                                     far from glamorous. But if after all that work I’m able to make one
gross domestic product, and now make                                                                                                     little difference in another’s life or cause one little spark of happiness
up a sizable percentage of GDP.                                                                                                          to light up someone else’s eyes, then it would all have been worth it. I
                                                                                                                                         would be lying if I said that the financial security wasn’t a definite plus
                                                                Photo courtesy of
                                                                  as well. In the end, all this research into life as an attorney has left me
                                                                                                                                         more interested in this career, and I shall endeavor to become an
Acknowledgments:                                     First of all I’d like to thank my parents for being there for me my                 attorney as best I can.
whole life and letting me make my own career decisions. Next I’d like to thank all the speech and debate coaches I’ve ever
had for instilling in me a love of debate and competition. I’d also like to thank the Career Discovery Program, Marcie Kirk
Holland, and Janice Morand for this amazing opportunity to learn more about myself and my skills. Finally I’d like to
thank Melissa Borel for putting up with me for two whole quarters now, I know it’s not easy- thanks Missy.

                                                                      Collins, Judith. “Entry-Level Lawyer Salaries Remarkably Stable”. 2005. 4 Mar. 2007
                                                                      Perry, Paul. Fear and Loathing: The Strange and Terrible Saga of Hunter S. Thompson.
                                                                                   New York: Thunder’s Mouth Press, 1992.
                                                                      United States. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Lawyers”. 4 Aug. 2006. 4 Mar. 2007
                                                                      The State Bar of California. “How Do I Become a Lawyer?”. 2006. 4 Mar. 2007.

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