Staff Attorney Salary
The average Staff Attorney in the United States can expect to rake in roughly $64K per year. Cash earnings for Staff Attorneys — which occasionally include more than $13K from bonuses and more than $15K from profit sharing — stretch from around $46K to approximately $104K. Career length and the particular city each impact pay for this group, with the former having the largest influence. Job satisfaction is reported as high by the vast majority of workers. A large number report receiving medical coverage from their employers and a fair number collect dental insurance. More than half of Staff Attorneys (62 percent) survey participants are women. The data in this summary comes from the PayScale salary survey.
Job Description for Staff Attorney
Staff attorneys are legal employees who work for a variety of organizations, often as full-time employees. Staff attorneys use their legal expertise to help deal with the day-to-day legal issues with which their organization needs regular assistance. The daily duties of a staff attorney might include advising their employer on legal matters, performing pre-litigation analysis, conducting research as it pertains to legal matters within their organization, and carrying out legal proceedings. Staff attorneys usually work in an office within their company's legal department, where they look over paperwork, prepare analysis, and carry out other jobs required by their supervisors. Their supervisors might include senior staff attorneys and/or the head of the legal department. This is typically a full-time position, although overtime may be required as tasks require. In all tasks, staff attorneys must follow relevant privacy regulations.Read More...
Attorneys must complete a bachelor's degree and a three-year law program, in addition to passing their state's written bar exam. Qualities that employers look for in job candidates include being an effective communicator, having strong leadership qualities, and having previous experience as a staff attorney. Potential employees must be experienced within the relevant area(s) of law and have a firm grasp on the skills and day-to-day duties required by their individual employer.
Staff 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 Staff Attorney
Staff Attorneys may progress into high-paying roles like General Counsel, where median compensation is $152K annually. The most common next step for a Staff Attorney is to become an Attorney or a Senior Staff Attorney. The former position pays an additional $16K per year on average, and the latter position pays $31K more per year.
Staff Attorney Job Listings
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Popular Skills for Staff Attorney
Overall, survey participants reported applying a fair number of skills to their work. Most notably, skills in Contract Negotiation, Legal Compliance, Legal Document Review, and Litigation Case Management are correlated to pay that is above average. Skills that pay less than market rate include Legal Writing and Legal Research. A tool kit that includes Legal Research also typically contains Litigation Case Management and Contract Negotiation. Most people skilled in Legal Document Review are similarly competent in Contract Negotiation and Litigation Case Management.
Pay by Experience Level for Staff Attorney
Median of all compensation (including tips, bonus, and overtime) by years of experience.
Staff Attorneys generally obtain higher compensation for more plentiful past experience. The average inexperienced worker earns $62K, and someone who has worked for five to 10 years can expect a bigger median salary of $71K. After working for 10 to 20 years, Staff Attorneys make a median salary of $76K. Average wages for folks with more than 20 years of experience come out to around $100K.
Pay Difference by Location
Surpassing the national average by 30 percent, Staff Attorneys in Chicago receive some of the highest pay in the country. Staff Attorneys will also find cushy salaries in San Diego (+26 percent), New York (+25 percent), Houston (+25 percent), and Seattle (+14 percent). Those in the field find the lowest salaries in Baltimore, 10 percent below the national average. Workers in Nashville and San Francisco earn salaries that trail the national average for those in this profession (10 percent less and 6 percent less, respectively).