Top 10 Law Schools by Salary Potential

A law degree isn't the guarantee of success that it used to be, but if you choose the right law school, you stand a much better chance of earning a high salary, both after graduation and over the long term. That doesn't mean that you need to set your sights on the Ivy League, however. This year's College Salary Report includes plenty of programs from non-Ivy schools.

5 Jobs That Pay Well, But May Not Be Fulfilling

Some jobs don’t offer warm fuzzies, but they do give you a fat paycheck. If having that comfortable income is a priority for you, and you can find meaning in other aspects of your life, then here are some careers you might want to consider.

No, You Cannot ‘Do Anything With a Law Degree’

Once upon a time, liberal arts grads with uncertain career paths put their faith in a fairytale: if they really couldn't figure out what to be when they grew up, there was always law school. In the wake of the recession, when over 11 percent of law school grads are unemployed nine months after graduating, it seems that this particular coach has turned back into a pumpkin. At Slate, writer and attorney Jim Saksa reminds us that it was probably all make-believe in the first place.

Lawyers Are Killing Themselves, and No One Knows Why

It's not something you read about very often, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does keep data on professions with high incidence of suicide. Currently, lawyers are fourth on that list, the CDC tells CNN, right behind dentists, pharmacists, and physicians. What they can't tell us, exactly, is why lawyers rank so high on the list, or specifically what makes some professions more prone to suicide than others.

How Lawyers Bill

Whether you want to work as a lawyer, work for lawyers, or are considering hiring a lawyer, it is good to understand the facts behind how lawyers bill.

What Are the Duties of a Paralegal?

Name: Rita
Job Title: Paralegal
Current Employer: Dowling, Aaron & Keeler, Inc.
Where: Fresno, CA
Years of Experience: 14 years
Other Relevant Work Experience: Secretary
Education: Los Angeles Mission College Sylmar, CA Paralegal Certificate
Salary: Use the PayScale Research Center to find median paralegal salaries.

Paralegal Job Profile - How to Become a Paralegal

In this Salary Story, we hear from Rita, a successful paralegal who knows the ins and outs of working as a legal assistant. She describes the duties of a paralegal, explains some of the challenges that paralegals face, and offers advice on how to become a paralegal and be successful in the field. For more career information, check out the paralegal links at the bottom of the page.

PayScale: What are the duties of a paralegal?

For litigation cases assigned to me, I am responsible for overall case management under the supervision of the assigned attorney; drafting and responding to discovery requests, preparation of client status reports, document control, drafting pleadings, trial preparation of exhibits, motions in limine, jury instructions. For trademark assignments, I complete initial clearance research of potential trademarks, analysis and discuss with the attorney; research potential conflicts; prepare draft trademark applications; communicate with the client over all aspects of the trademark application and defense aspects; draft responses to office actions; oversee calendaring of applications and registrations and all deadlines associated with same; and prepare draft renewals of registrations.

Paralegal Careers – Corporate Paralegal Job Description

Name: Michelle Hampton
Job Title: Contract Specialist / Corporate Paralegal
Years of Experience: 5
Employer: Self-employed; previously employed as VP Contracts Specialist at IT company
Where: Columbus, OH
Education: AA-AS Degree in Legal Safety & Justice from CSCC (ABA approved)
Other Relevant Experience: Over 10 years of paralegal/business experience
Salary: Use the PayScale Research Center to find median paralegal salaries.

Paralegal Careers - Corporate Paralegal Job Description

The corporate legal field is an well-compensated industry and, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics,  legal assistant and paralegal jobs are expected to grow quickly over the next several years. In this interview, Michelle Hampton describes her contract specialist/paralegal job description. She explains how she leveraged her legal skills from an entry-level worker all the way to VP of an IT company, and then went freelance. Her certifications and legal job experiences are explained, and she gives tips for avoiding some of the pitfalls in this high-stakes industry. Find out why her career choice is so rewarding, and find the answer to that all important question: how much money does a paralegal make?

Environmental Lawyer Salaries

Name: Stu Flashman
Job Title: Environmental Lawyer
Where: Oakland, CA - USA
Current Employer: Self-Employed
Years of Experience: 18
Education: Brown University - B.A. and Sc.M. in Biology; Harvard University - Ph.D. in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology; New College of California - J.D.
Other Relevant Experience: Ten years as a Research Biologist (it helps with the science in Environmental Law).
Annual Salary: See PayScale's Research Center to find lawyer starting salaries, and compare lawyer salaries by city.

Things don’t always work out according to plans. Stu Flashman studied biology at Brown University, earned a Ph.D. in biochemistry and molecular biology from Harvard and then went to work as a biotech researcher. Then, when he was laid off after ten years in the field, Stu came to the realization that he’d embarked on the wrong career path. In a case like this, what can you do, other than alter your course and make the best of it? That’s exactly what Stu did. He went to law school, passed the bar, and used his biotech research background to launch a career in environmental law.

Although it took Stu several years to get himself established as a solo environmental lawyer, he now experiences numerous rewards from his work. He gets to select his own clients, take cases he cares about, and see his work positively affect the community. Now, with 18 years of experience as an environmental lawyer, Stu's salary reaches far beyond the original $15,000 he made in his first year of legal practice.

Starting Lawyer Salary: Partner Lawyer Salaries

Wal-Mart is famous (or infamous depending on your POV) for its employees' salaries, and now it appears the big box giant is concerned about today's starting lawyer salary. As recently reported by the Wall Street Journal, Wal-Mart sent a memo to its legal counsel bemoaning an increase in legal fees and pointing a finger at the starting lawyer salary of $160,000.

In the memo, Miguel Rivera Sr., associate general counsel for Wal-Mart, wrote, “The salaries that law firms choose to pay their junior associates are none of our concern."  But then he added, “Based on the size and frequency of the rate increase requests that we have seen over the past three years, it appears that many of the requested increases are largely attributable to the steady, nationwide increases in junior associate salaries.”

How does your salary compare to a starting lawyer salary Find out by taking PayScale's full salary survey.

Criminal Defense Attorney Salaries

Name: Scott Pactor
Job Title: Criminal Defense Attorney - Attorney at Law
Where: San Diego, CA 
Employer: Self-Employed
Years of Experience: 6
Education:J.D. Hastings College of Law, San Francisco; B.A. American University, Washington D.C.   
Salary: See the PayScale Research Center for criminal defense attorney salaries.

Criminal Defense Attorney Salaries

If you're interested in criminal defense attorney salaries or have ever wondered what's it's really like to work as a criminal defense attorney in California (or anywhere else), then you don't want to miss this Salary Story. San Diego criminal attorney Scott Pactor gave us the inside scoop on criminal defense attorney salaries and the attorney jobs California and other states have to offer. This interview is court-mandated reading!