Let’s create a Lawyer who has all the right skills and qualifications required for the job, has obtained the required degree and is an American National. This Lawyer is single; has been practicing law in the private sector for a large corporation over the past two years; resides in New York and feels the time has come to embark on a serious career path.
Passing quickly by the fact that Japanese Lawyers earn the most out of any country in the world; we move swiftly to the glorious fact that American Lawyers are second in the earning potential ratings. So, our New York Lawyer is high on the bar.
We have long been of the opinion that New York City offers the highest salaries but, on closer inspection; surprise, surprise! If our Lawyer wants top pay they will have to move to California because that’s where Lawyers are snagging the highest salaries!
Our Lawyer loves the prestige that comes with the legal career. Being a lawyer has been a symbol of status for generations. Remarkable degrees coupled with a certain air of authority has placed lawyers in an elite circle of professionals who, just from the very nature of their profession, draw more deference and esteem that many other professions; and embody the definition of success.
Lawyers do enjoy a unique professional status – when they have the time to look around and realise their standing. Alas, an exceptionally successful Lawyer has neither the time or the inclination to sit and enjoy their own triumphs and they usually appear quite impervious to the glamorous image bestowed upon them by the mass media.
Being in a unique position to help others with their legal difficulties, Lawyers in private practice are well placed to perform pro bono work and thus champion causes for the greater good of society. Although a great number of bar associations require that lawyers commit to a specific number of pro bono hours each year. Usually the hours that the Lawyers invest in pro bono causes, far exceed those set down by the associations; and they do this in the interests of helping the elderly or victims of domestic abuse and most especially, cases concerning children. They toil these long hours for these particular matters because they want to and are in a position to really make a difference in a great many people’s lives.
Many a Lawyer would be genuinely surprised if they were advised of exactly how much they had benefitted society with these acts of decency, generosity and honour. The general public, on the other hand, have little or no knowledge of such things and have no hesitation in arguing the toss when it comes to paying legal fees they can afford!
Travelling the country, or even the world, is a possibility for a lawyer. How amazing to do that so as to participate in trials or business deals or other matters. There’s an opportunity to mix with business leaders, politicians, celebrities or sports figures and the like. Once again it would behove them to occasionally stop and ‘smell the roses’ along the way. But, all in all, they are having fun. They’re consumed with their profession and enjoying all the perks it has to offer them.
There is a huge demand for Lawyers in the U.S. that is constantly growing; so, to be a Lawyer in America is to be sought after, held in high esteem and well rewarded. Who wouldn’t want to practice Law in the States! They are intellectually challenged, have the opportunity to specialise or perhaps transfer to another State – what a pleasure! They wear beautifully tailored suits and other garments that are clearly from designer houses. They dine in the finest restaurants and belong to all the ivy league clubs and associations.
Let’s return to our New York City Corporate young Lawyer we created and let’s decide where we can place this Lawyer so that they’re in a State that has the highest earning potential.
At the moment, our Lawyer isn’t eating much more that fast food – when they remember to eat - because they’re so busy meeting moving deadlines.
Their clothing is smart and adequate, but nothing special there. Same thing with apartments – our Lawyer is single so probably sharing with another like-minded Attorney just to give them a head start and save a little money on the way.
We would have thought that New York City would have been the best place for our Lawyer to meet all the chosen and required needs, with lots of scope to succeed.
However, a survey conducted to find the top ten States with the high earning potential showed the following:
They said: “With many top law offices located in New York City, it is unsurprising that New York State ranks second on our list. Lawyers in the state are well compensated. New York has the third-highest average income for lawyers of any state in our study, plus D.C. In 2018, lawyers earned an average of $167,110. However, New York may be a more competitive place for lawyers than other states on our list.”
We sat up and took notice. Where would be the best place for our very own Lawyer to succeed. Remembering that once they are qualified to practice Law in, say, New York City, they may not practice in any other American state with first passing an examination to so do. Is it worth it? We ask. Well, if you look at some of the rest of the survey, you’ll easily make that decision. Listen to their advice:
The national average annual wage of a Lawyer is $144,230, according to the BLS, which is not far from being three-times the average annual salary for all occupations, $51,960. However, that average salary is for the U.S. overall, which hides significant differences depending on geography, such as the state you reside in.
1. California average lawyer salary: $171,550
2. New York average lawyer salary: $167,110
3. Massachusetts average lawyer salary: $165,610
4. Connecticut average lawyer salary: $153,640
5. Illinois average lawyer salary: $152,980
6. Texas average lawyer salary: $150,250
7. Colorado average lawyer salary: $147,560
8. Arizona average lawyer salary: $145,750
9. Virginia average lawyer salary: $139,180
10. New Jersey average lawyer salary: $139,020
I read in a professional legal American Journal that “The practice of law in the United States has a proud history, integral to the founding of the nation and maintaining the rule of law. Many lawyers and law students from around the world come to study or practice law in the United States.“
Studying law can open many doors for you, as Law gives you the necessary skills to practice as an Attorney /Lawyer, or develop a career in another field such as politics, diplomacy, economics, business, or education. There are abundant rewards in studying law, but it is a lonely, and unsociable, intimidating, and difficult process, so it is vital that one is sure beyond any doubt that studying law is the right choice for you.
As an international student, you should be aware that typically a J.D. (Juris Doctor) from a US law school will not always prepare you to practice law in your home country, as US law schools teach the common law based on the British system. However, there are law firms around the globe that hire lawyers with a J.D. Degree. Additionally, schools in Louisiana do teach the Civil Code, which may be applicable in some countries
So, it’s decided then. We’re going to uproot our Lawyer; they’ll pass an exam that enables them to practice law in the State of California; we’ll find them a lovely house and they can find a partner and get married, turn the house into a home, have children and live happily ever after.
Just remember that becoming a Lawyer is an enormous undertaking in terms of time commitment and financial investment. Law school and passing the bar can be gruelling challenges. Your motivation can depend at times on knowing what's really good about this profession, and being able to glimpse it out there on the horizon.
So, to answer your question of ‘Why Become a Lawyer in the U.S.’, let’s ask, ‘Is being a Lawyer in America fun’? Does it pay the bills and offer incredible opportunities? Yes; Yes; Yes! If you weren’t too busy working – doing what lawyers do – becoming entirely immersed in legal matters – you’d realise how wonderful your life really is. The work is definitely rewarding, and it does have its perks……. especially in California, U.S.A.!!
Maybe the people involved in the California Gold Rush of centuries ago actually knew more that we suspected – because clearly California enriches Lawyers’ lives!