Lawyer Salary Guide and Career Outlook

The lawyer salary differs depending on the country and the cost of living within that country. While the salaries in India and south Africa may look low, they are actually well compensated for the country. The annual wage in the United States and Canada were the highest at $80,035 and C$74,401. The United Kingdom and Australia had a similar converted pay rate of about $50,000 while New Zealand was at $40,000.

Find out how the lawyer salary changes by country, experience, type of industry, bonuses, and career outlook. Lawyers are needed wherever there is law and order, but they will have different responsibilities depending on where they work.

female lawyer seated with two clients

How Much Does a Lawyer Make per Year by Country?

Lawyer Salary US Canada UK Australia New Zealand India South Africa
Hourly Pay $45.00 C$40.00 ($29.85) E19.00 ($20.20 AU$29.00

($21.43)

NZ$27.56* ($19.51) Rs 289.72* ($4.26) R875 ($61.68)
Annual Pay $80,035 C$74,401($55,521) E48,917 ($52,008) AU$69,630($51,464) NZ$57,325 ($40,588) Rs 602,633 ($8,854) R209,818 ($14,790)

*These figures are estimated based on the other pay given on Payscale, assumes a 40 hour work week.

Lawyer Salary Influencing Factors

Undoubtedly there are many different types of lawyers. The salaries listed below are for a general lawyer career. These industries have significantly different wages. This data relies on self-reporting to Payscale.com.

1. Location

How Much Does a Lawyer Make in the US?

An hourly rate from $20.05 to $242.23 is expected for lawyers in the United States. The overtime rate is $9.70 to $198.66 dollars. Annually, these professionals will make $48,438 to $154,206. Bonuses of $25,717, profit sharing of $30,116, ,and a commission of $41,000 are the max for those respective benefits. The total pay is $49,022 to $176,384 dollars.

How Much Does a Lawyer Make in Canada?

The lawyer salary in Canada fluctuates between C$48,487 to C$126,384. With a bonus of C$300-C$20,482 and profit sharing of anywhere from none to C$49,316 the income for a lawyer can go from medium to high income. The regular hourly rate is C$20.61 to C$200.67. The total take home pay for lawyers in Canada is C$48,630 to C$146,431 dollars.

How Much Does a Lawyer Make in the UK?

Practicing lawyers in the United Kingdom earn a nice wage from E25,822 to E97,877. In addition to this base wage, there is a bonus of E14,298 and profit sharing of E216,992 that could be earned. An hourly wage of E12.41 to E47.05. The total salary is E25,128 to E101,661.

How Much Does a Lawyer Make in Australia?

The lawyer salary in Australia is between AU$19.24 and AU$67.53 hourly. An overtime rate of AU$40.98 is expected. The regular salary is AU$40,077 to AU$116,372. They can earn a bonus up to AU$15,050 and a profit share of AU$97,871. The total salary of these professionals is between AU$46,737 and AU$118,661.

How Much Does a Lawyer Make in New Zealand?

If you are a practicing lawyer in New Zealand you can expect a wage between NZ$48,177 and NZ$142,950. An hourly rate is not listed but based on a 40 hour work week is estimated to $23.16 to $68.72. A marginal bonus of NZ$2,000 can be earned. The complete salary is NZ$48,288 to NZ$153,193 dollars.

How Much Does a Lawyer Make in India?

The 10th percentile of earners in India will make Rs 235,832 and the 90th percentile of earners will make Rs 2,358,324. This estimates to an hourly rate of Rs 113.38 to Rs 1,364. Just like the salary, the bonus can be small to large from Rs 5,051 to Rs 494,931. A profit share is Rs 62,500. The total compensation is Rs 255,321 to Rs 2,838,708.

How Much Does a Lawyer Make in South Africa?

The income for lawyers in South Africa is R65,751 to R595,082 annually. The hourly rate ranges from R100.67 to R1,589. Some lawyers will get a bonus of R51,108, a commission from R40.43 to R168,860, and profit sharing up to R489,937. This equals a total salary of R69,761 to R697,035.

2. Experience

Lawyers in Australia, South Africa, and India experience a sharp increase in salary from entry-level to experienced professionals. Respectively, this ranges from 78%, 172%, and 126%. The United Kingdom and New Zealand see a more modest salary increase based on experience. In New Zealand, the salary goes from 8% below the median to 13% above for more experienced professionals. In the United Kingdom, the salary is 22% below for entry level and 35% above the median for experienced. The United States sees a sharp growth between mid-career and late-career lawyers from 14% above the median to 62% above.

3. Industry

In the United States, most lawyers work in legal services but some work in local, state, and federal government or finance and insurance. The top paying industries for lawyers in the United States are industrial machinery manufacturing, information services, pipeline transportation, and semiconductor manufacturing. However, these fields employ a very small proportion of lawyers. The mean wage of these industries is $205,000 dollars.

When looking at skills that impact pay regardless of industry, having a skill in legal research is negative in Australia, Canada, South Africa, and the United States. A positive skill in Australia and Canada is litigation case management. Other positive skills in the United States are intellectual property and complex litigation.

Schedule & Working Hours

Lawyers frequently work more than full-time, especially when they are working on a case. Lawyers can be self-employed as about 20% are. Lawyers may have to travel to work with clients or to go to different courts. Typically, lawyers with less experience have to work longer hours and do much of the grunt work conducting research and getting documents ready for court.

According to a blog post from a young lawyer in Australia, the working hours vary depending on the firm and workload of that particular lawyer. One of the stressors for lawyers in Australia is that many firms require certain hours even when there is no work.

Bonuses & Benefits

There are locations of the different countries that offer a better salary and quality of life. In Canada, this area is Toronto while in South Africa it is Johannesburg and Pretoria. Lawyers practicing in London get paid above average while those in the United States who work in San Francisco, Washington, Indianapolis, and Los Angeles experience a higher than average salary.

In addition to receiving a higher pay based on country, there are different medical benefits based on geographic location. These are seen in the table below.

Country United States Canada United Kingdom Australia New Zealand India South Africa
Medical 74 71 61 6 25 23
Dental 48 60 27 5 13 4
Vision 36 47 11 4 13 2

Career Outlook

A concerning trend for lawyers is that artificial intelligence is expected to take over some of the job responsibilities of lawyers. However, the demand for lawyers will remain at about 6% growth in the next decade. Even beyond this technology impacting the lawyer career outlook, law firms will look to reduce cost by changing staffing models and assigning more responsibilities to people without a law degree. Recent law students in the United States are having a hard time finding a full-time position.

When looking at the gender ratio of this career choice, Australia is the only country that is predominately female at 63%. New Zealand, the United Kingdom, United States, South Africa, and Canada all have approximately a 50/50 ratio of male to female while in India the ratio is 27% female to 63% male.

Lawyers in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, South Africa, and India are in the top 14 countries for income based on salary and cost of living. The country that pays lawyers the most, comparatively, is China.

Conclusion

Lawyers have to work long hours and often have a stressful job. For the stress they are under and the hours expected, the pay is not superb. In addition, some recent college graduates are having a difficult time finding a full-time position because they are more lawyers than there are positions in the United States.

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