Skip to Content

Working Conditions for Lawyers

Cropped image of a female lawyer working on her laptop beside an open book and a display figure of Lady Justice on her desk.

The working conditions for lawyers haven’t changed much over the decades. You’re still going to work incredibly long hours. Yes, technology has increased workspace mobility to access legal information. However, you still have to put in the 50+ hours a week. Curious to know how these conditions change across lawyers’ specializations?

Depending on the lawyer’s specialization, lawyers work in stressful environments and are in and out of courtrooms or legal offices. Spending average of 65 hours a week conducting research or mediating with clients, some represent criminals in court, while others revise laws for future cases. 

If you’re studying Law and considering specializing and want to get an idea of the different working conditions of each specialization, keep reading as we unpack various factors of each profession.

Technology is Shifting Gears of Momentum

The working conditions for lawyers have improved alongside technological advances. Technology increases accessibility to databases that can access files and law-related content quicker. The amount of time it takes to locate content, organize files, and identify supporting literature has greatly reduced with the assistance of technology.

Technology has greatly increased mobility and accessibility not only for accessing legal content but also with their clientele. Having accessible communication, lawyers can meet with their clients online instead of traveling long distances. Especially criminal lawyers that spend most of their time traveling between prisons and legal offices.

Despite the benefits that improved technology provides, lawyers work excruciatingly long hours. It greatly relies on the lawyer’s specialization, but they can easily clock 50 – 80 of work a week.

The Expected Conditions for a General Practice Lawyer

As the name suggests, these General Practicing Lawyers deal with a broad range of legal cases. Some of these lawyers can help with civil cases, criminal cases. They can even orientate themselves around investigating how the Law will be applied in cases to come.

General Practice lawyers are very employable due to the flexibility of their qualifications, but this is greatly determined by the school where you received your qualification. Some schools have a lot more of a prestigious reputation and come with a reputation.

Since these attorneys can tackle a wide range of cases, their income trajectory is also rather wide. In the United States, these lawyers can expect an annual salary between $59 000 – $218 000. An additional reason for this super wide range is that some lawyers represent governmental agencies and deal with huge federal cases.

How Working Conditions Vary Amongst Law Specializations

Bankruptcy Attorneys

Cropped image of a bankruptcy lawyer working with piles of paperwork.

Bankruptcy can happen to any business and anyone, and it’s the responsibility of the Bankruptcy lawyers to soften the blow for the client. With the primary aim of keeping clients from disclosing full bankruptcy, these lawyers need exceptional transactional and litigation skills. A bit of financial background will only benefit you.

In and out of the courtroom, these lawyers advise their clients on possible options to improve their situation. Since all bankruptcy-related cases are federal, these lawyers spend most of their time studying state rules that affect certain factors like property rights.

Depending on the size and type of case, Bankruptcy lawyers can spend up to months on one case and take home a salary between $49,800 to $91,800 per year. Working conditions range from a small team to large corporate departments. These lawyers ensure those debtors follow protocol and maintaining their legal obligations.

Contract Lawyers

Contract lawyers primarily revise and write up documents used in so many situations to ensure promises are kept between involved parties. If a legal contract is under question when something goes wrong, they’re the lawyer to call.

Since these contracts cover a wide variety, the assignments are not monotonous to come with flexible hours and come with plenty of opportunities for lawyers in this specialization. Most lawyers work in an office space for the company or firm they represent, and for contract lawyers, this is where you’ll be spending most of your time.

Occasionally meeting up with clients, the working conditions are stable. You’ll be able to focus on networking and building a respectable reputation while earning a decent income of an average of $82 000 per year.

Corporate Lawyers

A corporate lawyer talks with corporate employees at a table.

Corporate lawyers deal with a wide variety of things related to the corporation they represent. This ranges from dealing with compliance issues to advising a possible course of action to address the corporation’s formation issues.

The employment rate for these lawyers is pretty solid for long-term employment, for if you’ve represented your corporation well – the likelihood to be replaced is tiny. Since Corporate Lawyers cover quite a large base of potential issues, their qualifications don’t require hectic specialization like Bankruptcy lawyers.

These lawyers can earn between $50 000 – $100 000 per year in the US and are equipped with a decent office and assistance to help them solve corporate issues at a sufficient pace. Therefore, team management and renowned communication skills are optimal to succeed in these conditions.

Civil Litigation Attorneys, or Litigators, or even Trial Lawyers

Civil Litigation Attorneys are part of a civil lawsuit from start to finish, from initial investigations right through to settlement and appeals for both defendants and plaintiffs. Their working conditions scale from representing an individual through to corporate litigation representation or even real estate.

These lawyers need to have a close eye to detail and prepare to work long hours that require skills beyond being book smart. Dealing with clients, pre-court activities, and client representation, the verbal and written skills must be outstanding to survive these working conditions.

However, since these lawyers work throughout the court case, many lawyers run their own firm. So, if you would like to be your own boss – this wouldn’t be a bad specialization to consider. Depending on the size of the firm and the clients represented, these lawyers can earn between $93 000 and $165 000 per year.

Criminal Lawyers, or known as Criminal Defense Lawyers or Public Defenders

The working condition for Criminal Lawyers is probably one of the most demanding on this list. They work long hours, which requires a particular knack for seeing underlying connections and adapting and steering investigations with sufficient research and evidence to support their claim or defense.

Even though this specialization requires a special type of person to survive these conditions, they can take home up to $130 000 a year, making it worth it for some people.

These working conditions aren’t as stable as many other specializations because some court cases take months to begin. So, these lawyers end up working on multiple cases at the same time. Being able to commit to various cases simultaneously might become a bit overwhelming and rather stressful.

Estate Planning Lawyers

Back profile of an estate planning lawyer discussing what's written on a paper to an elderly couple.

Estate Planning Lawyers write up trusts and wills for family members. They’re responsible for ensuring that the wishes of those who have passed are seen to and dealt with.

These lawyers spend most of their time in office spaces dealing with paperwork. Still, they will need to have some mediating and delegating skills to deal with family-related issues. For example, Estate Planning Lawyers occasionally deal with guardianship designation cases which requires an ability to separate emotional investment from the case.

Even though their jobs deal with some grueling and personal tasks, these lawyers can take home a pretty impressive check up to $258 000 a year. These conditions are dependable on the type of case. Will offer a flat-rate fee, while trusts and guardianship designation cases have a retainer fee or charge an hourly rate.

Employment Lawyers

An Employment Benefits Lawyer has a busy job of addressing issues within the workspace on a local, state, and federal level. These lawyers specialize in these areas to ensure that fair treatment is dealt with in the workplace between employees and employers.

What keeps these lawyers’ jobs separate from others is consistent work throughout the year, with cases coming up throughout the year. Rather than one large criminal case, it’s internal and can be more predictable to work with.

The working conditions that Employment Lawyers face do come with an emotional angle. They also deal with cases related to Sexual Harassment and Discrimination. Depending on the organization these lawyers represent, these lawyers can earn between $65 000 to $145 000 in the United States.

Family Lawyer

Back profile of a family lawyer talking to a family of three and pointing to a spot on the paper.

On the spectrum of interaction with clientele, this specialization is up on the heavy side. Those who specialize in Family Law deal with engagements, prenuptial agreements, divorce-related issues like custody, and financial support.

Employment in this work environment depends on the institution and area. Some institutions won’t accept candidates of a certain age. You’re also going to require mediating skills to deal with very personal cases between family members.

Since this specialization spans from being Family Law-Professor to a highly specialized divorce lawyer, the annual salary range is wide from $50 000 – $129 000. It’s not for everyone because these conditions are unpredictable, especially when one is dealing with families.

Immigration Lawyers

Immigration lawyers have one of the toughest working environments on this list. They have to deal with many issues related to immigration into the United States, like green cards and citizenship.

The average annual income for Immigration Lawyers is $73 000, but some specialized lawyers in this field take home $111 000 a year. There is increasing competition in the employment part of being a lawyer. Since you don’t have very specific qualifications, there is pressure to excel when provided with an opportunity.

The expertise of these lawyers is invaluable, and since their work involves international engagement, they are occasionally posted in other countries. However, the offices of these lawyers can also be at universities, corporate offices, and general practice law firms.

Intellectual Property Lawyers or IP Attorneys

Intellectual Property Lawyers are called upon when an infringement or breach of intellectual property, like copyrights, trade secrets, and trademarks, has occurred. They can advise and provide counsel for their clients. They also work in the development section, where they investigate techniques that ensure trade secrets are kept.

The working conditions for these lawyers tend to have very minimal interactions with clienteles since they are usually employed by research institutions and large corporations.

Since the implication of stolen intellectual property is pretty scary, people aren’t afraid to pay a decent salary for the best services. The annual salary for IP Lawyers can reach up to $111 000 a year in the United States.

Malpractice Lawyer

Malpractice Lawyers usually deal with medical-related or legal-related issues, where a service provider has failed to meet the promises made to their client.

The content of these cases is usually very personal. It can be a bit of heavy content due to mistakes like medical misdiagnoses, resulting in severe injury or even death. Lawyers who specialize in this field must have an eye for detail and be prepared for a lot of research.

With the amount of research, court appearances, and occasionally triggering content that comes with the job, Malpractice Lawyers can earn a very nice salary. The average annual wage in the US is $108 000, where highly demanded lawyers can make up to $600 000!

Personal Injury Lawyers

A personal injury lawyer talks to an elderly man with a neck brace.

Those who become Personal Injury Lawyers are usually driven by resolving the civil injustice occurring in healthcare spaces, like medical negligence or psychological injury.

These Lawyers work very closely with their clients throughout the process, straight through to protecting clients from insurance companies. To succeed in these working conditions, lawyers have to have outstanding analytical skills and the drive to help people receive the compensation they deserve.

These lawyers are usually hired by large corporations when a case is charged against them. They are otherwise commonly self-employed or work for private firms and take home a well-earned average salary of $75 000 per year.

Tax Lawyer

Everyone is scared of the Taxman, but a Tax Lawyer is the one you should truly fear. Tax affects and therefore applies to businesses of all scales. Accordingly, lawyers can specialize in dealing with cases on a local, state, or federal level. Depending on which scale and who these lawyers work for, they can bring home an average salary of $121 000 a year

Much like a Bankruptcy Lawyer, you need to separate emotion from your work, have a good eye for detail, and be pretty exceptional with numbers and the relationship between them.

The working conditions for this field are becoming increasingly demanded. A crucial role for these Lawyers can help reduce tax exposure and come up with solutions to help get you out of a sticky situation.


Some things don’t change, like that a lawyer works incredibly long hours and reads a lot of books. This doesn’t come with anything; they can earn a very comfortable salary for their efforts. However, depending on the lawyer’s specialization, they deal with different things during an average day in the office.

Some lawyers deal with people a lot. Some are in courtrooms a lot, while others don’t really engage with clients because they’re going over corporate arrangements and ensuring obligations are being kept and met.

Despite the advantages of technology in the modern world, lawyers are expected to be multifaceted in their approach with highly advanced communication abilities to have a successful and long-term career. All lawyers must maintain a healthy balance between work and home.