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Want to Get Rich? Lawyering Is Still the (Second) Best Way

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By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. on March 17, 2016 6:57 AM

For all the talk about law school debt, the struggling legal market, and dead-end legal jobs, working as a lawyer is still one of the best ways to make a lot of money. According to a new report by Glassdoor, lawyers are the second highest-paid professionals in the country.

So take that software engineers, finance bros, R and D managers. We've still got you beat. (Though we're also a distant second to physicians.)

Second Best Is Still Better Than Third

Sure, you went into the law because of your unflagging sense of justice, commitment to public service, and desire to live just like the cast of L.A. Law. But the salary doesn't hurt either. And, according to the jobs site Glassdoor, lawyers have the second highest salary in the country. Here's their top ten:

1. Physicians, at $180,000 a year
2. Lawyers, $144,500
3. Research and Development Managers, $142,120
4. Software Development Managers, $132,000
5. Pharmacy Managers, $130,000
6. Strategy Managers, $130,000
7. Software Architects, $128,250
8. Integrated Circuit Designer Engineers, $127,500
9. IT Managers, $120,000
10. Solutions Architects, $120,000

We've never heard of an integrated circuit designer engineer before, but we don't know how they get by on just $127,500.

Alright, Not All Lawyers Make Bank

Of course, lawyers know better than to rely on simple lists. Attorney income, like all income, isn't evenly distributed and there are plenty of lawyers who would love to make even half the number Glassdoor gives.

Robert Half Legal's 2016 Salary Guide provides a more nuanced view. While a lawyer with over a decade's worth of experience can expect to make $194,250 to $279,500 in a large firm, that same lawyer may make as little as $108,250 at a small one, according to their numbers. But hey, even those smaller six digits are a great bump up from the $55,250 that first year attorneys in small firms can expect.

But then again, maybe money isn't everything. According to a survey of over 6,000 lawyers, attorneys working public interest jobs reported the highest levels of happiness, despite starting salaries in the low- to mid- $40,000 range.

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