Do lawyers really make that much money when taking into account they often work 50-60 hour weeks? by Ty Doyle
Answer by Ty Doyle:
First of all, many lawyers don’t make all that much money. The median salary for American lawyers in 2015 was $115,820—an upper-middle-class income, to be sure, but certainly not “1%” money—which means that half of attorneys were below this line. Let’s look at four examples.
First, let’s assume a public interest lawyer making $45,000/yr while working 1750 hours. That works out to little more than $25/hr, a rate that can be had for a lot of work not requiring graduate-level education.
Next, let’s assume a government attorney making $90,000/yr while working 2,000 hours. That works out to $45/hr, many multiples of minimum wage, but not an exceptional sum for a white-collar worker with a professional degree.
Third, let’s assume an in-house attorney for a major corporation making $200,000/yr while also working 2,000 hours. That works out to $100/hr, a pretty good deal.
A lawyer who makes $800,000/yr—let’s assume, conservatively, that he/she works 2,750 hours to get it—winds up taking home about $290/hr, which is a nice amount of hourly compensation.
These are rough illustrations—the $45k lawyer might have to work 2,750 hours, as well—but you get the idea: some lawyers do quite well, but many do not.