Over the thousands of years that the legal profession has existed, practitioners have needed to adapt to a variety of emerging industries and fields. These fields may have their own complex laws and regulations that no jack-of-all-trades attorney could ever hope to master in one lifetime.
Today, there are dozens of types of lawyers, and each requires a separate study of law specific to the needs of the field in addition to taking the LSAT and going to law school. Choosing what kind of lawyer to become is a careful balancing act of determining what different types of lawyers are in demand, what their average salaries are, and what you’re passionate about.
Types Of Lawyers
Given the question of what kind of lawyer to become, you might be asking, then:
What are the different types of lawyers and their salaries?
The following are the primary types of lawyers and their respective salaries:
- General Practice Lawyer - $117,000
- Contract Lawyer - $79,000
- Family Lawyer - $69,000
- Intellectual Property Lawyer - $165,000
- Estate Planning Lawyer - $64,000
- Civil Rights Lawyer - $69,000-$145,000
- Civil Litigation Lawyer - $82,000
- Tax Lawyer - $70,000 to $210,000
- Criminal Lawyer - $78,000
General Practice Lawyers - $117,000
Just as a general practitioner doctor is skilled in diagnosing and treating a wide array of diseases, a general practice lawyer will practice in a wide variety of legal topics. Approaching a general practice lawyer is a great idea if your legal concern overlaps with several different fields at once.
Contract Lawyer - $79,000
At some point in life, everyone’s likely to deal with formal agreements in one way or another. These formal agreements, in the form of contracts, are often written in seemingly impenetrable legalese that would be hard to read for a layman, but are constructed in that way to prevent ambiguity.
Contract lawyers dedicate their practice to handling these contracts. You can hire their services to help you understand a contract that you’re about to sign, or to help you draft a contract that you’re working out between you and another party. You can also get them to determine if someone is in breach of a contract, and whether you can pursue legal action.
Family Lawyer - $69,000
Family lawyers practice family law, which encompasses topics like marriage contracts, divorce, alimony, and child support and custody. You can call upon the services of a family lawyer to handle any of these cases.
Intellectual Property Lawyer - $165,000
Intellectual property (IP) law is getting bigger and bigger as more and more trademarks, copyrights, and licenses are issued, especially in the computer industry. Fulfilling the legal needs of invention and originality is important to ensuring that innovation is rewarded.
If you’re wondering what types of lawyers are in demand, IP lawyers are definitely among them. They are needed to handle the immensely research-heavy field of intellectual property, determining whether certain companies are in breach of various patents and trademarks, or ensuring that their own clients’ products aren’t in breach of others’ intellectual property.
Estate Planning Lawyer - $64,000
What happens to your property when you’re gone? Those wills don’t write or execute themselves, after all. They’re also pretty hard to do correctly—countless family feuds have been started on the basis of ambiguously written last wills and testaments, arguing over the most trivial minutiae.
Estate planning lawyers help you plan the documents that will ensure your legacy is carried on exactly as you will it, pun intended. They can also help you with setting up trusts, whether for your spouse or children after you’ve passed.
Civil Rights Lawyer - $69,000-$145,000
Everyone is entitled to nearly unassailable civil rights. Breaches of these civil rights include being victimized by discriminatory practices or being prevented from practicing a certain religion. Civil rights lawyers may help victims file cases and seek damages when their civil rights have been violated in some way.
Civil Litigation Lawyer - $82,000
Civil litigation lawyers aren’t to be confused with civil rights lawyers. They carry out lawsuits filed between parties, in which the outcome is usually some kind of legal remedy or monetary compensation, as opposed to the possibility of jail time.
Lawsuits can take place in plenty of different fields and industries. This means that there are civil litigation lawyers who specialize in anything from corporate law to tree law. Don’t laugh at that last one if you’ve never heard of it before—it’s an expensive, complicated branch (yet another pun intended) of the legal system that can create cases worth tens of thousands of dollars!
Tax Lawyer - $70,000 to $210,000
You could do a lot of heinous things in the world and get away scot-free, but God be with you if you run afoul of the IRS. Tax lawyers can help you deal with the complex web of laws that govern the United States’ internal revenue system, whether at a local level, state level, or federal level.
Criminal Lawyer - $78,000
Perhaps the most iconic kind of attorney, the trial lawyer is one of those glamorous types of lawyers that you’d see depicted in movies and television. You might see them as the ones speaking up and debating at the stand, prosecuting criminal defendants and sending them off to prison.
Criminal lawyers come in several different types of their own. Aside from prosecutors, there are of course the defense attorneys who allow the accused a chance at a fair trial. There are public defenders, who are the ones being referred to in the Miranda warning: “If you cannot afford [a lawyer], one will be provided for you.” If you’re thinking about which types of lawyers make the most money, criminal lawyers are potentially the answer, but this is generally the case of private defenders for wealthy clients in high-risk industries.
These are just a few of the different types of lawyers and what they do, and you can be assured that whatever industry you work in, there’ll be a lawyer who knows how to handle it. All types of lawyers are important, as everyone deserves to have the ability to present their case effectively in court.
If you’re looking for a certain type of lawyer to represent you, or at least help you in your case, then chances are there’s one out there who specializes in the field of your concern.
If you’re thinking about what kind of lawyer to become, there’s far more to each field than just how big a paycheck is attached to it. Dive deep into the industry of your choice and figure out what’s in store for you!