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Lawyers
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Description: what do they do?
Represent clients in criminal and civil litigation and other legal proceedings, draw up legal documents, or manage or advise clients on legal transactions. May specialize in a single area or may practice broadly in many areas of law.
Also known as:
Assistant Counsel, Partner, Deputy Attorney General, Associate Attorney, Assistant Attorney General, Lawyer, City Attorney, General Counsel, Attorney at Law, Attorney

    What does this information tell me?

    This description is a quick overview of what workers in this career might do.

    "Also known as" shows other common names for this career.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from an O*NET database. Learn more on the Help page.

Career video
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    Transcript: Lawyers advise individuals, businesses, and government agencies on legal issues and disputes, and represent them in court and legal transactions. Also called attorneys, lawyers inform their clients about their legal rights and obligations, and help steer them through the complexities of the law. They also advocate for their clients in court by presenting evidence and making legal arguments. Lawyers conduct research and prepare documents, such as lawsuits, wills, and contracts. They also oversee the work of paralegals and legal secretaries. Lawyers work for law firms, governments, and corporations. In government, prosecutors are the attorneys who file charges against those accused of violating the law, while public defenders represent individuals who cannot afford to pay an attorney. Lawyers who work in law firms often start as associates, and may advance to partnership, or part owner, in their firm. Those who do not make partner after several years may be forced to leave, a practice known as “up or out.” Lawyers may specialize in a subject area, such as environmental law, tax, intellectual property, or family law. Most lawyers work in offices, and travel to visit clients or represent their clients in court. They generally keep full-time hours, and overtime is common. Attorneys may face heavy pressure at times— for example, during trials or when trying to meet deadlines. It usually takes three years of law school after college to become a lawyer. All states require lawyers to pass licensing tests called “bar exams” to practice law. Prior felony convictions may disqualify candidates from practicing law.
View transcript
Outlook: will there be jobs?
Image. Employment outlook for this occupation
New job opportunities are likely in the future.


    What does this information tell me?

    Outlook information can tell you whether a career is expected to be in demand in the future—that is, whether there are likely to be job openings if you choose this career. Careers can have one of three outlooks:

    • A Bright outlook means new job opportunities are very likely in the future
    • An Average outlook means that a small number of new job opportunities are likely in the future (less than an 8 percent increase)
    • A Below Average outlook means new job opportunities are less likely in the future

    You can also view local job listings in this field by clicking "Find job openings" above. This can help you see if local businesses are hiring—another way of looking at demand.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET’s Bright Outlook occupations. Note this information is only available at a national level, so even if you selected a state, you’ll only see this information for the whole country.

Projected employment
California
97,400
2016 Employment
108,000
2026 Employment
11%
Percent change
5,330
Annual projected job openings
United States
792,500
2016 Employment
857,500
2026 Employment
8%
Percent change
40,700
Annual projected job openings

    What does this information tell me?

    Projected employment shows how much employment is expected to grow in this occupation over a 10-year period. This can help you decide if this career is a good choice for future job opportunities. You can look at projected employment in your state, or in other states where you might consider living.

    You can see the total number of people employed in this occupation in 2016, the number expected to be employed in 2026, and rate of growth over those years.

    The projections are based on assumptions of unemployment rates and labor productivity growth rates.  While the projected numbers may not be exact, they are helpful to compare one career to another, or one location to another.

    What is the source of this information?

    State-level data come from Projections Central and each state's Labor Market Information office.

    National-level data come from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Projections, 2016-26.

Typical wages

Annual wages for Lawyers in California
This graph displays wage data.  Find details by selecting the table view.
This chart displays wage data.  Find details by selecting the table view.
LocationCaliforniaUnited States
10%$73,380$57,430
25%$101,160$78,130
Median$149,670$119,250
75%$208,000+$178,480
90%$208,000+$208,000+


    What does this information tell me?

    This chart shows you a range of how much most workers in this occupation earn per hour, in the location that you selected.

    You can select from three views of this data:

    • The Graph shows you wages at the 10th, 25th, 50th, 75th and 90th percentiles. Note that the lowest (10th %ile) wage shown is not necessarily a "starting wage." Instead it means that 10 percent of all workers in this career earn less that this amount, and 90 percent earn more. However, you can assume that you might earn close to the 10th or 25th %ile wages when you start out in most careers.
    • Select "Chart" to see a visual comparison between national wages and wages in the location you selected.
    • Select "Table" to see more wage data the national and local level.

    Please note that wage data are not available at the city or ZIP code level. If you selected a city or ZIP code, you will see wage data for the regional area.

    Also note that in this update, 21 detailed occupations found within the 2010 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) were replaced with 10 new aggregations of those occupations; read more about these OES changes.

    You can learn more about wages for this and other occupations by clicking “See more wages” above.

    What is the source of this information?

    The wage information comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics Program, 2017 data. For more detailed state wage data, please find the link to your state's wage data program in the Other Resources box.

    What does this information tell me?

    This shows you the typical level of education, work experience, and on-the-job training that most people have when they start in this career. Note that these are not requirements for entering this field, but the information can help you understand how qualified you might be.

    Interested in starting in this career? You can search for education programs in your local area by clicking “Find local training” above.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Office of Occupational Statistics and Employment Projections Education and Training Data.

Typical education
How much education do most people in this career have?
Chart. Percent of workers in this field by education level attained

    What does this information tell me?

    This chart shows you the range of education levels that people who currently work in this field have. You can use this to see if you fit in this range. Note that this includes ALL people who work in this field and not just those getting started.

    Interested in getting qualified for this career? You can search for programs that lead to the education needed, in your local area, by clicking “Find local training” above.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Office of Occupational Statistics and Employment Projections Education and Training Data.

Certifications: show your skills
Let employers know you have the skills to do well at this job.
Earning a certification can help you:
  • Get a job
  • Get a promotion

    What does this information tell me?

    When you click "Find certifications" you'll see a list of national certifications that are related to this career. From there, you can learn how to achieve one of these certifications to help you enter or get ahead in this field.

    What is the source of this information?

    This collection of occupational certifications is collected and regularly updated by CareerOneStop. Learn more at Certification Finder Help.

Licenses: do you need one?
Some states require an occupational license to work in this career.

    What does this information tell me?

    When you click "Find license details in your state" you'll see the license name and contact information for the agency in your state that oversees licensing for this field. If you have not selected a location, you'll see a list of all state licenses for this occupation.

    What is the source of this information?

    Information on licensed occupations is gathered in each state by Labor Market Information units under a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. Learn more at License Finder Help.

Apprenticeships: learn on the job
Apprenticeships combine paid on-the-job-training with classroom lessons.

    What does this information tell me?

    When you click "Find apprenticeship sponsors" you'll find information that can help you locate apprenticeship opportunities in your state:

    • If there are businesses that have sponsored apprenticeships in this field in the past, you'll find their name and contact information.
    • If there are related occupations that might have apprenticeship opportunities, you'll find links to that information.
    • You'll also see contact information for state and federal agencies that oversee apprenticeship programs.

    What is the source of this information?

    Apprenticeship information comes from the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Apprenticeships, and from CareerOneStop. Learn more at Apprenticeship Finder Help.

Activities: what you might do in a day
  • Identify implications for cases from legal precedents or other legal information.
  • Provide legal advice to clients.
  • Meet with individuals involved in legal processes to provide information and clarify issues.
  • Represent the interests of clients in legal proceedings.
  • Interview claimants to get information related to legal proceedings.
  • Research relevant legal materials to aid decision making.
  • Arbitrate disputes between parties to resolve legal conflicts.
  • Prepare legal documents.
  • Supervise activities of other legal personnel.
  • Prepare documentation of legal proceedings.
  • Evaluate information related to legal matters in public or personal records.
  • Draft legislation or regulations.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of typical work activities that people in this career might do on the job. You can use this list to get an idea of whether this career might be a good fit for you.

    Click on “More activities” to see more detailed examples of activities for this career.

    You can also use this list to help you prepare for a job interview. Or, if you’ve already held a job like this, you can copy these activities to use on your resume.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from O*NET OnLine's Occupation Information. They are O*NET’s Detailed Work Activities.

Knowledge
People in this career often know a lot about:
  • Law and Government - Knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Customer and Personal Service - Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of general knowledge areas that are most commonly required for jobs in the career. Knowledge is typically gained through education and related experience.

    This list can help you learn if you are prepared for a job in this career. It can also help you decide on education or training programs that could help you prepare for the career.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Knowledge descriptors.

Skills
People in this career often have these skills:
  • Speaking - Talking to others.
  • Active Listening - Listening to others, not interrupting, and asking good questions.
  • Reading Comprehension - Reading work-related information.
  • Critical Thinking - Thinking about the pros and cons of different ways to solve a problem.
  • Complex Problem Solving - Noticing a problem and figuring out the best way to solve it.
  • Judgment and Decision Making - Thinking about the pros and cons of different options and picking the best one.
  • Writing - Writing things for co-workers or customers.
  • Persuasion - Talking people into changing their minds or their behavior.
  • Negotiation - Bringing people together to solve differences.
  • Time Management - Managing your time and the time of other people.
  • Active Learning - Figuring out how to use new ideas or things.
  • Social Perceptiveness - Understanding people's reactions.
  • Monitoring - Keeping track of how well people and/or groups are doing in order to make improvements.
  • Systems Analysis - Figuring out how a system should work and how changes in the future will affect it.
  • Coordination - Changing what is done based on other people's actions.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of a list the work-related skills most commonly required for jobs in the career.

    This list can help you understand how well your current skills fit this career. It can also help you plan your education or professional development.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Skills descriptors.

Abilities
People in this career often have talent in:
  • Oral Expression - Communicating by speaking.
  • Written Comprehension - Reading and understanding what is written.
  • Oral Comprehension - Listening and understanding what people say.
  • Speech Clarity - Speaking clearly.
  • Written Expression - Communicating by writing.
  • Inductive Reasoning - Making general rules or coming up with answers from lots of detailed information.
  • Deductive Reasoning - Using rules to solve problems.
  • Near Vision - Seeing details up close.
  • Information Ordering - Ordering or arranging things.
  • Problem Sensitivity - Noticing when problems happen.
  • Category Flexibility - Grouping things in different ways.
  • Fluency of Ideas - Coming up with lots of ideas.
  • Originality - Creating new and original ideas.
  • Selective Attention - Paying attention to something without being distracted.
  • Speech Recognition - Recognizing spoken words.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of a list of personal qualities that might influence work and are most commonly required for success in this career.

    This list can help you understand if your natural strengths and abilities are a good fit for this career.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Abilities descriptors.

Interests
  • Enterprising - Occupations with Enterprising interests frequently involve starting up and carrying out projects. Many involve leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business.
  • Investigative - Occupations with Investigative interests frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. They often involve research and figuring out problems mentally.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of work environment-preferences that are most commonly associated with the career. It can help you understand if your natural interests are a good fit for this career.

    Click "Take an interest assessment" for a quick 30-question assessment that can help you understand your interests and see careers that might be good matches for them.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Interest descriptors.

Typical tasks
  • Analyze the probable outcomes of cases, using knowledge of legal precedents.
  • Advise clients concerning business transactions, claim liability, advisability of prosecuting or defending lawsuits, or legal rights and obligations.
  • Select jurors, argue motions, meet with judges, and question witnesses during the course of a trial.
  • Interpret laws, rulings and regulations for individuals and businesses.
  • Present evidence to defend clients or prosecute defendants in criminal or civil litigation.
  • Represent clients in court or before government agencies.
  • Work in environmental law, representing public interest groups, waste disposal companies, or construction firms in their dealings with state and federal agencies.
  • Present and summarize cases to judges and juries.
  • Study Constitution, statutes, decisions, regulations, and ordinances of quasi-judicial bodies to determine ramifications for cases.
  • Negotiate settlements of civil disputes.
  • Prepare, draft, and review legal documents, such as wills, deeds, patent applications, mortgages, leases, and contracts.
  • Supervise legal assistants.
  • Examine legal data to determine advisability of defending or prosecuting lawsuit.
  • Evaluate findings and develop strategies and arguments in preparation for presentation of cases.
  • Probate wills and represent and advise executors and administrators of estates.
  • Gather evidence to formulate defense or to initiate legal actions, by such means as interviewing clients and witnesses to ascertain the facts of a case.
  • Prepare legal briefs and opinions, and file appeals in state and federal courts of appeal.
  • Search for and examine public and other legal records to write opinions or establish ownership.
  • Act as agent, trustee, guardian, or executor for businesses or individuals.
  • Help develop federal and state programs, draft and interpret laws and legislation, and establish enforcement procedures.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of typical tasks that people in this career might do on the job.  You can use this list to get an idea of whether this career might be a good fit for you.

    Click on “More tasks” to see more detailed examples for this career.

    You can also use this list to help you prepare for a job interview. Or, if you’ve already held a job like this, you can copy these tasks to use on your resume.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from O*NET OnLine's Occupation Information. They are O*NET‘s Tasks.

    What does this information tell me?

    These are additional online resources related to this career. You may find different or more detailed information at these sources.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information is collected and maintained by CareerOneStop.