Senior Attorney Salary
Senior Attorneys receive generous compensation in the United States — earning an average of $131K per year, their standard salaries shoot well into the six-figure range. Final cash compensation to Senior Attorneys varies from around $79K to approximately $214K; choice pay grades include potential for bonuses and profit sharing as high as $45K and $76K, respectively. Geographic location is the biggest factor affecting pay for this group, followed by experience level. Most Senior Attorneys like their work and job satisfaction is high. Most report receiving medical coverage from their employers and a strong majority collect dental insurance. Men working as Senior Attorneys who took the survey just slightly outnumber women at 55 percent. This report is based on answers to PayScale's salary questionnaire.
Job Description for Senior Attorney
A great deal of legal work, including both civil and criminal litigation, is done with teams of lawyers. A senior attorney is the person who helps to manage such teams. He or she is normally a partner in a firm or a high-level specialist retained by one. The senior attorney typically directs the preparations of the team in representing a client. The senior attorney also represents the team when meeting with the legal representatives from the adversarial side of a case. Should the case be argued in court, typically the senior attorney takes the lead in presenting his or her team's information and arguments.Read More...
The senior attorney is typically the first conduit for the client being represented. In the case of civil litigation, this lawyer will work with the client to understand the goals of any lawsuits or court orders being sought. In criminal cases, the senior attorney will normally conduct preliminary interviews with the client to help assess how the legal team should proceed. The senior attorney will then direct other lawyers on the team to comb through evidence and report on progress. The attorney will also outline and assess the strength and evidence of the case he or she can present and begin to work towards a resolution.
A senior attorney must possess a law degree from an accredited university law school. He or she also must be a member in good standing of the bar association or accrediting organization with jurisdiction in the area. A senior attorney typically works in an office environment, but he or she should expect that long hours, field work, and travel are an integral aspect of this job.
Senior Attorney Tasks
- Advise clients in business transactions, claim liablility, 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.
- Represent clients in court or before government agencies, present and summarize cases to judges and juries.
- Gather evidence to formulate defense or to initiate legal actions; evaluate findings and develop strategies and arguments for presentation of cases.
- Analyze and interpret laws, rulings and regulations with probable case outcomes for individuals and businesses.
Common Career Paths for Senior Attorney
Though not the most common occurrence, Senior Attorneys sometimes become Senior Counsels, where the average income is $169K per year. Becoming an Attorney is, more often than not, the most common role that Senior Attorneys move into when they're ready for the next step in their career. A median salary for an Attorney is $81K. Another frequent advance is for Senior Attorneys to assume a General Counsel role; in this role, workers often take home $152K.
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Popular Skills for Senior Attorney
Senior Attorneys generally report applying a varied skill set to their work. Fortunate workers who know Regulatory Compliance can expect a significant pay bump, scoring salaries 21 percent above average. Skills that are correlated to lower pay, on the other hand, include Negotiation, litigation, and Contract Management. Those educated in Contract Negotiation tend to be well versed in Regulatory Compliance.
Pay by Experience Level for Senior Attorney
Median of all compensation (including tips, bonus, and overtime) by years of experience.
Senior Attorneys with a lot of experience tend to enjoy higher earnings. Whereas the median salary for inexperienced employees is approximately $84K, incomes in the five-to-10 year group are significantly higher, averaging to the comfortable six-figure sum of $133K. After working for 10 to 20 years, Senior Attorneys make a median salary of $145K. More than 20 years of experience seem related to solid financial gains; veterans in this group report earning a median of $161K.
Pay Difference by Location
San Francisco is home to an above-average pay rate for Senior Attorneys, 28 percent higher than the national average. Senior Attorneys can also look forward to large paychecks in cities like Houston (+18 percent), Minneapolis (+18 percent), Boston (+13 percent), and Portland (+11 percent). Compared to the national average, Los Angeles Senior Attorneys have considerably lower salaries, 35 percent below the national average to be exact. Location appears to be a major driving force in pay for those in this profession. Not at the bottom but still paying below the median are employers in Miami and New York (13 percent lower and 12 percent lower, respectively).
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Key Stats for Senior Attorney
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