What Can You Do With a Law Degree? 15 Jobs and Salaries Revealed

Finding the right career can be difficult, especially when you have to obtain a degree to pursue your passion. Law degrees are notoriously difficult to get, but they also come with the benefit of opening up a wide range of career options for you. Whether you simply want to be a criminal lawyer like you’ve seen on TV or do something more specialized, there’s a career for you. 

Ensuring you know what you want to do with your law degree is vital considering all the time you have to spend getting it. Fortunately, there is no wrong answer when you’re choosing what to do with a law degree. If you’re wondering what you can do with your law degree, here are 15 common law degree jobs.

Jobs & Salaries As a Lawyer

Business Lawyer

Business Law
Jonathunder, CourtGavel, CC BY-SA 4.0

Whether an individual wants to start a business or needs help resolving a legal business issue, you can help them by offering your services as a business lawyer. This is an excellent job because there are numerous types of businesses you can work for, some of which may align more closely with your interests. Your salary as a business lawyer depends on the type and size of business you’re representing. When you represent a very large business that has to take on a lot of legal cases, you’re going to make more money. However, the median salary for a business lawyer is around $120,000 as of 2018.

Civil Rights Lawyer

There are certain liberties and rights we’re all supposed to be afforded as citizens, but those rights and liberties aren’t always protected. A civil rights lawyer fights to help protect individual rights and liberties from being encroached upon. Civil rights lawyers may take on cases involving unlawful arrests, discrimination, wrongful convictions, and racial profiling. While the average starting salary for a civil rights lawyer is about $45,000, that number can skyrocket to $200,000+ with experience and the right position.

Family Lawyer

As a family lawyer, you can take on a broad range of cases, which leads many family lawyers to specialize even further. Some of the cases you may handle as a family lawyer include those involving custody, adoption, prenuptial agreements and divorce. Family lawyers are the ones who help dissolve a marriage and divide property equally between the two parties, as well as helping determine who is going to have primary custody of the child. A family lawyer makes an average salary of about $70,000, although that number can go quite a bit higher if you choose to specialize in one area of family law.

Patent & Intellectual Property Lawyer

When a company or individual invents something, they need to protect that invention from being stolen by other companies or individuals. As a patent and intellectual property lawyer, it’s your job to help inventors determine what they can and cannot patent and file patents for anything that can be patented. Once somebody has a patent for their product, a patent lawyer is also responsible for defending that patent from being infringed upon. If you choose to go down this path, you’ll enjoy a median salary of $129,000 or so.

Criminal Lawyer

Criminal law is what most people think of when they think of law degree jobs. If seeing characters in movies and TV shows inspired you to be a lawyer, you already know what being a criminal lawyer is all about. As a criminal lawyer, you will find yourself defending individuals and organizations against a wide variety of criminal charges they may face. These criminal charges may also be at the state or federal level, which means there is a lot of flexibility in the kind of work you do. Public defenders earn a median salary of about $52,000, with more successful criminal lawyers easily going above six figures.

Entertainment Lawyer

As an entertainment lawyer, you get a chance to make an impact on the business side of the entertainment industry. Entertainment lawyers handle cases for clients who want to protect their film, television show, music, theater production or any other form of artistic expression. Not only do entertainment lawyers have an exciting job at times, but they can also make very good money. Depending on where you live, you can earn more than $100,000 as an entertainment lawyer.

Tax Lawyer

Sometimes an individual, organization, or business runs into trouble with tax agencies. A tax lawyer can help individuals, organizations, and businesses by representing them when dealing with federal, state, and local tax agencies. This means that tax lawyers have to spend a good amount of time brushing up on the latest legislation and being aware of tax law in general. Tax lawyers earn a median salary of about $100,000, making this one of the more lucrative types of law to practice as long as you don’t mind dealing with tax law.

Employment Lawyer

There are often disputes when it comes to the workplace, and those disputes need to be settled professionally. An employment lawyer can represent either an employer or an individual in a workplace dispute to ensure the right decision is made. One example of this is determining whether an employer is complying with employment laws or not. Employment lawyers enjoy a median annual salary of about $144,000.

Real Estate Lawyer

Real Estate Lawyer
Tracy Collins, New York Court of Appeals hearing oral arguments, CC BY-SA 2.0

Each real estate transaction requires complicated legal documents, which is one of the things a real estate lawyer can take care of. However, real estate lawyers are also experts regarding things like zoning, property development, and tenant law. An example of a case that a real estate lawyer may take would be a landlord attempting to sue a tenant for unpaid rent. While real estate law isn’t the top of the line when it comes to money, you’ll still earn a median salary of about $90,000 as a real estate lawyer.

Immigration Lawyer

Immigrating to the United States is a complex process, which means the individuals who decide to do that need help. An immigration lawyer helps individuals and families who are immigrating to the US by guiding them through every step of the process. Not only is this an exciting type of law to practice, but it can also be very satisfying to help families achieve better lives. If you decide to become an immigration lawyer, you can easily earn six figures.

What Can You Do with a Law Degree Besides Being a Lawyer?


Not every dispute needs to be settled in court; in fact, sometimes it’s better to settle out of court. An arbitrator can help examine the facts of a case to decide how the parties involved should proceed. Often times, an arbitrator will be a retired judge, lawyer or some other type of expert when it comes to law. Being an arbitrator is fascinating because of the wide variety of cases you can deal with. Plus, you can earn an average salary of about $64,000 without having to be a lawyer.


Aspiring law degree holders often wonder, “What can you do with a law degree besides be a lawyer?” One way to put your legal skills and expertise to work without being a full-blown lawyer is to become a paralegal instead. A paralegal works closely with lawyers to handle the administrative side of the law. As a paralegal, you aren’t allowed to represent a client in court or offer legal advice. You can still earn an average salary of about $55,000 as a paralegal, however.


One of the toughest parts about being an entrepreneur is dealing with the legal side of creating and operating a business. If you’re already familiar with business and employment law (and the law in general), you’ve got a head start on the competition when it comes to starting your own business or creating your own product. The best part is, there is literally no ceiling when it comes to the salary of an entrepreneur. If you work hard enough and find your way to success, the payoff can be immense.


A mediator is like an arbitrator, but you aren’t actually making the final decision regarding the settlement. Instead, a mediator hears all the facts from both parties, then discusses possible resolutions. Since a mediator doesn’t actually get to make the final call, they have to work closely with clients to reach a decision that works for everybody. The average salary for a mediator is about $60,000.

Chief Financial Officer

As a chief financial officer (CFO), you are responsible for the financial decisions a company makes. A CFO is responsible for handling cash flow, financial planning, and analysis of the company’s financial situation. This can be a very taxing job title to hold, but it’s also one that comes with a lot of power and benefits. If you don’t mind taking on a lot of responsibility, you’ll earn a median salary of about $136,000 per year as a CFO.