If you are still wondering what field of law is best for you to practice, take a look at our list of 10 best fields of law to practice.
Defining “best field of law” is a very tricky task since every field of law has its importance and purpose and it would be unfair putting one field over the other. Although this specific issue is not measurable the questions about most lucrative law practices and highest paying law fields are more common. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, median annual salary for lawyers, in general, is around $118.160. The lowest 10% in this profession earn around $56,910 and those in the top 10% earn even more than $208,000. If you want to know more about types of lawyers that make the most money, you should definitely take a look at the list of types of lawyers that make the most money. Although a lot of lawyers specialize in criminal law, there are many other fields of law which can earn you good money. In any case, if law career is in your mind, you should focus on getting proper education including specialization if you are committed to building your career in the specific field of law. Also, there are lawyers who never enter the courtroom but focus their expertise to research, drafting and advising.
Although law schools do not ask for you to know which field of law you want to practice when you graduate, it is always a plus to have something in mind when it comes to your future career. While some will focus on earning “big” money and working within the field of corporate law, others will focus on doing what they like even if it means having a lower salary. Also, certain fields require more work, personal involvement and working hours but it is up to you to make your choice. We’ve compiled a very interesting list of easiest and highest paying fields of law which might be of interest to you. However, sometimes your job opportunities will depend on types of lawyers in demand and most in-demand law fields, at least at the beginning of your career. Growing legal practice areas in 2017 and 2018 are intellectual property law, labor and employment law, environmental law and bankruptcy law, among others. In the end, “best field of law” will depend solely on your personal interests.
In order to compile this list of 10 best fields of law to practice, I firstly consulted Brown University website to check their list of major law fields in order to have a starting point for further research. Then, I checked JDJournal article dealing with in-demand fields for 2018. Quora thread on the area of specialization for young lawyers was also very helpful. In order to have a coherent ranking of these fields of law, 10 best fields of law are ranked according to the median annual wage. Fields in which you can earn more money are ranked higher on the list. However, take in mind that lawyers also need to make their way up in order to earn good money, meaning that beginning salary might significantly vary compared to the numbers we provided on this list. Let’s take a look.
10. Family Law
Median annual salary: $69.499
We start our list of best fields of law to practice with family law, that is a field of law concerned with family relationships such as divorce, child custody, adoption, child support, etc. Most family lawyers are invited in case of divorce and their job is to help make settlement plan in order to avoid trial. This usually involves division of material property and proposing a plan for child custody. Having in mind that divorce rates are on the increase, family lawyers will definitely have a lot of job to do. Also, family lawyers are called in case couples want to sign a prenuptial agreement (prenup contract can vary depending on the persons signing it, but it is usually signed to protect the property each person owns in case of divorce).
9. Criminal Law
Median annual salary: $80,799
As the name itself says, criminal law is a field of law related to crime and possible punishment of offenders. The main purpose of the criminal justice system is to deliver justice to all, by protecting the innocent, punishing the guilty but also protecting him/her. There is always a danger of disproportionate punishment and abuse of power which is why criminal law is there to protect both sides. Criminal law focuses on offenses which affect the public, such as rape, murder, manslaughter, robbery, arson, etc. Criminal lawyers usually represent the defendant who is accused of a crime and their job involves much more than simply presenting a case before a judge (which we often see in various TV shows). Because of the complexity of this job, working hours can extend beyond office hours since criminal attorneys are expected to conduct research, advise their clients, etc. Salaries will also largely depend on the case the criminal attorney is working for.
8. Civil Rights Law
Median annual salary: $101,848
Civil rights encompass the area of human rights and in case of the U.S. and many other countries, these rights are guaranteed by the constitution. So when do you need a civil rights attorney? Civil rights attorneys are usually called upon in cases of violation of rights which were guaranteed by the constitution, in cases of police brutality, discrimination, if you were a victim of hate crime, etc. Although we are not halfway through our list of 10 best fields of law to practice, median annual salaries reach six-figures.
6. Corporate Law
Median annual salary: $106.000
We are continuing our list of best fields of law to practice with the corporate law which regulates how various corporations and their employers interact with which other and corporate lawyer’s job is to ensure the legality of commercial transactions. This includes offering legal advice on various topics since corporations are subject to various (strict) regulations which they need to follow in order to ensure tax and other benefits which corporations can receive. According to PayScale, six-figure pay is considered almost as a norm for corporate lawyers. The exact amount will vary according to the employer, of course.
6. Entertainment Law
Median annual salary: $106,000
Behind the scenes, the entertainment business is a document-intensive business which requires the help of lawyers. According to American bar website, there is no case law per se that constitutes category called “entertainment law” but legal practice in this specific field is quite distinct from other fields. Entertainment lawyers consult their clients on a variety of legal practices including taxation, contracts, employment, intellectual property law (which we will mention as well on our list of best fields of law to practice) and many other fields. More specific tasks will vary according to the entertainment sector of the client.
5. International Law
Median annual salary: $118,146
Studying international law is on the rise among the students and many believe that practicing international law is not only a profession but also a vocation and calling. The salaries depend on the nature of the job you choose (or you are offered to do) but international law degree definitely opens doors to remarkable careers. Career choices include working for international tribunals, working as consultants and advisors in international organizations, being an academic researcher/teacher, etc. For those who like to travel and explore the world, an international law degree can be a ticket to a new career overseas.
4. Real Estate Law
Median annual salary: $139,186
Real estate law ranks 4th on our list of best fields of law to practice. It regulates who may own and use the land. Real estate property refers to land and buildings on that land and the real estate law regulates who may own and use the land. Real estate attorneys can offer their legal advice and help on issues such as mortgage documents, purchase agreements, transfer documents, as well as handling closings (when one person buys real estate property from another person). The role of real estate attorneys is to oversee land transactions and make them as stress-free as possible for parties involved in the negotiation/transaction. It is of utmost importance that real estate lawyers are well-versed in current trends and laws which can help their clients.
Let’s see the top three best fields of law to practice, shall we?
3. Intellectual Property Law
Median annual salary: $140,926
Copyrights, copyrights, copyrights. If you have a brilliant idea in your mind, hold it for some time and protect your intellectual property. Intellectual property includes intangible creations of the human intellect and intellectual property law, one of the most in demand law fields, encompasses six primary areas: patent law, trademark law, copyright law, licensing, trade secret law and unfair competition. New developments in science, technology and elsewhere increased the demand for intellectual property lawyers because everyone wants to protect their brilliant product. The recession and various other reasons can affect some other fields of law (demand for lawyers in those fields) but when it comes to intellectual property law, people will keep inventing things and protection of the product is crucial.
2. Labor and Employment Law
Median annual salary: $144.000
At the number on our list of best fields of law to practice we have labor and employment law that is a very broad field that deals with rights and duties of employers and employees. The basis for many employment law cases includes discrimination in the workplace, “wage and hour” violations, etc. Roles of employment attorneys, who are one of the most in demand lawyers, vary as well, and most of them are concerned with issues arising from breach of the contract signed between employer and employee.
1. Tax Law
Median annual salary: $182,662
When mentioning tax law you probably have in mind persons you know or some celebrities who were accused of not paying taxes. Next association: Prison. These negative situations if you hire tax attorneys or lawyers. Tax law is one of the most lucrative law practice areas. Tax law attorneys and lawyers advise high net worth individuals and corporations in accordance with current tax legislation and help them to protect their business and personal finances. This profession is considered as very lucrative and demand for tax lawyers is expected to grow in the future. It comes as a no surprise that tax law takes the number one spot on our list of 10 best fields of law to practice since tax lawyers are in demand and they are definitely well paid.