How much money does a defense lawyer earn a year?

How Much Money does a Criminal Lawyer Make

Criminal lawyers specialize in either the prosecution or the defense. Prosecutors work for city, county, state or federal governments, while defense attorneys can work for governments, large law firms or on their own. Some defense attorneys earn high salaries from private clients, while others earn relatively modest salaries by defending the poor and destitute. The place where you live also plays a role in the salary you earn, with the highest salaries generally available in large cities.


The Office of Labor Statistics of the United States does not establish any difference between defense lawyers and other types of lawyers in calculating income, as of May 2010, the average salary of lawyers in the United States was US $ 112,760. About half of the lawyers earn more than this, and half less. Salaries increase with experience. Lawyers with 10 to 12 years of experience can earn twice as much as new lawyers, according to the Internet Legal Research Group.


The place where you work can have a big impact on what you earn as a defence lawyer. For example, a 2010 article in The Washingtonian noted that members of the largest DC law firms routinely earned more than $ 1 million a year. A freshman in a first-class law firm in DC could earn around $ 160,000. The Internet Legal Research Group estimates that a lawyer in a big city like Atlanta would earn almost 40% more than a lawyer with the same experience he practices in a smaller city, like Macon, Ga. Northeast lawyers would earn 10 to 20% more, on average, than lawyers in the deep South or Midwest.

Only in front of big company

The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that lawyers who work in the private sector generally earn less than those who are partners in large companies. The Internet Legal Research Group reported that in 2011 senior lawyers in large law firms earned between US $ 157,500 and US $ 240,750, while lawyers with equivalent experience in small law firms earned US $ 89,750 to US $ 147,500. Similar wage disparities exist for all levels of experience.

Defense Attorney Salary vs Prosecutor

Salary of Criminal defence lawyer in a private firm

  • 5 years experience: $80,000
  • 10 years: $96,000
  • 10+ years: $112,000

Public Defender Salary

  • 5 years experience: $52,000
  • 10 years: $69,000
  • 20 years: $74,000
  • 20+ years: $94,000

Public Prosecutor Salary

  • 5 years experience: $57,000
  • 10 years: $66,000
  • 20 years: $100,000
  • 20+ years: $131,000

How much does a Defense Attorney make per year

Public defenders earn less than their private counterparts – sometimes much less. The Washingtonian found that in 2010 the main public defender in Alexandria, Virginia, earned $ 109,294 a year, while the starting salary for public defenders in Virginia was $ 54,059. In Dallas County, Texas, public defender salaries range from US $ 26,644 to US $ 142,124.