What Can You Do With a Law Degree in the USA?

In the United States, there are about 986 thousand lawyers who have a patent attorney, which is a prerequisite for any form of practice. Although this is not necessary for scientific and teaching work, many legal scholars at the beginning of their careers prefer to go through the admission procedure to the Bar in case of transition to practical work.

How much does a lawyer earn in the USA?

The question of salary after passing the bar in the USA is relevant for those wishing to study law. The profession of a lawyer at all times was considered prestigious and highly paid. This is especially true in America, where no legal act can do without such a person, regardless of its scale. Divorce, buying a house – all this requires seeking the help of a lawyer. Therefore, those who choose this specialty always have a lot of work. The wages are also quite decent.

Three groups of lawyers

All American lawyers can be roughly divided into three classes of practicing lawyers engaged in work directly related to law; persons with a law degree, performing functions that are not directly related to the law and lawyers engaged in scientific and teaching activities.

The first group of lawyers

The largest professional group stands out from the first class of lawyers – these are lawyers in private practice; there are more than 700 thousand of them in the USA.

Corporate lawyers are full-time lawyers, and entrepreneurial firms also have full attorney powers. They make up more than 10% of the total number of lawyers. Many public organizations with the status of a corporation also have their own lawyers.

A large group is formed by lawyers of state institutions – staff members of the legal services of the executive branch, administrative agencies, local authorities, legislative bodies, as well as employees and heads of public prosecution bodies, lawyers from public defenders, whose activities are paid from the state budget.

Police and investigative officers, despite the fact that they have a law degree, according to the standards adopted in the American legal class, are not considered lawyers, but employees of their legal services (the FBI, for example, has its own legal advisory department) are considered as such. The largest state “law firm” is the Department of Justice.

The head of this ministry is the US attorney general. The civil service employs lawyers who make up 15% of the total number of lawyers who have a patent and the authority of a lawyer.

Judges constitute a special group within legal practitioners. Judges can be lawyers with hands-on experience in the legal profession, business, government legal services, government prosecutors, or experienced and respected law professors. The United States has 1,200 federal judges and about 30,000 state judges.

The second group of lawyers

The second class of lawyers are persons who have moved away from legal practice or science, as they have chosen politics or big business as their activities. According to modern sociological research, holders of a law degree in the United States have played and are playing the main socio-political roles in the life of the United States. So out of 42 US presidents, 25 were lawyers; in particular, A. Lincoln, F.D. Roosevelt, G. Truman, R. Nixon, B. Clinton. 2/3 of senators and almost half of the members of the US House of Representatives are lawyers. Half of the state governors and 40% of the diplomats hold a law degree. About 45% of those who have held top positions in government since the 1960s were lawyers, and more than 25% came to the state apparatus directly from law firms.

The third group of lawyers

These ones are those engaged in scientific and teaching work. The number of law teachers working in 181 officially recognized educational institutions is 5395. In addition, 4000 lawyers teach legal disciplines concurrently.

A person who graduated from a law school usually starts work in the legal profession or in court as a clerk (assistant) of a judge, or in the apparatus of legal services, prosecution bodies in junior positions.

The US legal class is characterized by high rotation and mobility. The transition from private law practice to public service and vice versa is a widespread phenomenon. Quite often, lawyers-scientists are involved in government work. Judges are usually selected from a pool of politically active and experienced lawyers. Many prosecutors become judges, although practice shows that the positions of district attorneys are viewed by lawyers as a springboard into politics. Corporate lawyers often devote themselves entirely to business. More and more American corporations are nominating their lawyers for leadership positions; in many corporations, the ex-officio general counsel is executive vice president.

Among people with a legal education, the most prestigious is the work of a judge (especially a federal judge who is elected for a life term); further, in terms of social prestige, are corporate lawyers and legal scholars (law professors); followed by lawyers working in administrative departments and employees of public prosecution services. The group of lawyers-politicians occupies a certain niche. The prestige of this group is measured by the political success of individual figures who have achieved some success in politics.