How Much Money Does A Defense Attorney Make?

Criminal lawyers are either prosecutors or defense attorneys. Prosecutors work for local, county, state, and federal governments, whereas defense attorneys work for government agencies, major law firms, or as sole practitioners.

Some defense attorneys earn a lot of money from private clients, while others defend the destitute and impoverished for a small fee. The pay you receive is also affected by where you live, with the highest wages being accessible in large cities.

In this post, we’re going to be taking a look at how much Defense Attorneys Make. We’ll examine a couple of other helpful tips that’ll make you understand better.

Make sure you read this post to the end as it’ll be very helpful and insightful.

Who is a Defense Attorney?

A defense attorney, often known as a defense lawyer, is a lawyer who represents a defendant in a civil or criminal case. Attorneys who represent a defendant in a criminal proceeding are called “criminal defense attorneys” informally. A defense attorney represents the defendant in court in both civil and criminal cases.

Normally, a defendant hires a defense attorney directly, and the attorney represents the defendant throughout the judicial procedure, including trial. In criminal cases, however, if a defendant cannot afford counsel, the court will appoint a defense attorney known as a public defender to represent him.

If you are accused of committing a crime, you have the right to defend yourself. A criminal defense attorney can assist you in navigating the criminal justice system, preparing and asserting your legal defense, and ensuring that your rights are safeguarded at all times.

It can be frightening to be questioned by police, a court, or a prosecutor on your own. Fortunately, criminal defense attorneys specialize in dealing with such situations.

They deal with cops, prosecutors, and judges on a daily basis, and these professional connections can help you design a legal defense, navigate jury selection, negotiate a plea deal, and advocate for you at trial or throughout your sentence.

While you’re here, you may want to check out How Much Does A Criminal Attorney Cost in 2022

How Much Money Does A Defense Attorney Make?

The average annual income for a Defense Attorney in the United States is $97,480 per year as of March 17, 2022. This equates to around $46.87 per hour. This equates to $1,875 each week or $8,123 per month. Attorneys with 10 to 12 years experience can earn twice as much as brand new lawyers, according to the Internet Legal Research Group.

Factors That Determine How Much Money A Defense Attorney Makes

A lawyer’s salary is determined by a variety of criteria, including their level of experience and expertise. Criminal defense lawyers who work for the government, such as prosecutors and public defenders, typically start with a lesser salary than those who work for a private business.

Let us explain these factors.

1. Location.

As a defense attorney, where you work can have a huge impact on how much money you make.

According to the Internet Legal Research Group, an attorney practicing in a large city like Atlanta would make over 40% more than an attorney practicing in a smaller town like Macon, Georgia. On average, attorneys in the Northeast would make 10 to 20% more than those in the deep South or Midwest.

2. Large Firm Or Solo Practice

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, lawyers in private practice earn less than those who work as partners in major firms. According to the Internet Legal Research Group, senior attorneys at large law firms earned between $226,250 and $311,500 in 2019, whereas attorneys with similar experience at small law firms earned between $128,000 and $181,000 in 2019.

Salary discrepancies exist at all levels of experience, implying that the types of lawyers who earn the most money are determined by criteria other than a practice area.

3. Public Or Private

When comparing defense attorney pay scales, keep in mind that public defenders make less than their private counterparts — often significantly less. Attorneys working for any type of public interest organization, according to the ABA Journal, often make substantially less than attorneys in private practice.

Top Criminal Lawyer Salaries By Job Title

The job title of a criminal lawyer has a significant impact on the amount of money they can earn. A criminal lawyer who works for the government typically earns less than those who work for a private firm and have more control over how much they charge clients. The three primary types of criminal lawyers are listed below, together with their average salaries:

1. Prosecutor

Prosecutors earn an average of $49,918 per year in the United States. Prosecutors are criminal lawyers who argue for the state in order to prove that a suspect is guilty of the offenses for which they have been accused.

They investigate crimes, collect evidence, and interview witnesses. Based on their legal studies, they also decide whether or not to seek criminal charges against an individual.

2. Public defender

The average annual salary for public defenders is $60,839 in the United States. Public defenders are government officials tasked with representing those who do not have access to private counsel.

Their purpose is to disprove the evidence against their client, argue for reduced penalties, and advocate for their client’s legal requirements in general. They work on a variety of case assignments, regardless of the charges involved.

3. Private defense attorney

The average annual income for a private defense attorney is $89,961. People who have been charged with a crime do not want a public lawyer to hire private defense attorneys.

Some private defense attorneys focus on a specific form of criminal defense, while others represent clients of all types. They have the same responsibilities as a public defender, but they normally handle fewer cases at a time and have more flexibility over their hours and rates.

Also, you may want to check out How Much Does A Tax Lawyer Make?

How to Make More Money as a Criminal Lawyer

Criminal lawyers can often enhance their pay by gaining experience and establishing a track record of success in court. Criminal lawyers with advanced degrees in a relevant discipline may be able to negotiate a higher wage. To create their reputation, criminal lawyers frequently work long hours and overtime. Lawyers who are paid by the hour or by the case may take on additional work in order to boost their overall profits.

Defense Lawyers’ Educational Requirements

Criminal lawyers can directly influence whether a person is found guilty of a crime and the severity of their punishment, so they are required to have a comprehensive legal education. 

1. Graduate With a Bachelor’s Degree.

Obtain a bachelor’s degree before enrolling in law school. Law students can pursue an undergraduate degree in any area that helps them improve their communication skills, including English, Political Science, Philosophy, and Economics.

2. Finish Law School.

In most cases, law school takes three years to complete. Take criminal law classes while in law school to prepare for a career as a criminal lawyer. Many law schools also have clinics where students can give free legal help while being supervised by a professor..

3. Make it Through The Bar Exam

To become a lawyer and remain eligible to practice law, you must pass your state’s bar exam and complete any needed continuing education courses. Over the course of 200 questions, the bar covers a wide range of civil and criminal legal principles. You can start practicing law as a government official or with a private defense firm after passing the ba

Those who want to work as defense attorneys can start by working for a public defender’s office or a law firm that specializes in criminal law. Some people may elect to pursue criminal defense certification in the future.

Job Prospects For Defense Attorneys

Jobs for lawyers are predicted to grow by 6% between 2018 and 2028, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is considered average growth. However, these figures do not split down legal jobs by practice area. Attorneys who are willing to be flexible in the types of positions they take and who are willing to relocate, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, may have the best career chances.


The job of Defense Attorneys is very crucial in the legal system. With the level of expertise needed, defense attorneys deserve even more pay.

We hope you found this post very helpful. Feel free to let us know what you think.


FAQs How Much A Defense Attorney Make

No, the United States constitution, as well as federal and state regulations, do not force an individual who has been arrested to speak to police, with the exception of providing basic information about one’s identity.

The decision of whether or not to speak to the cops is crucial, and it should be discussed with your lawyer as soon as possible.

The cost varies depending on the attorney’s expertise and, in most circumstances, the quality of the attorney, as well as the nature of the case.

Legal fees for attorneys with more expertise and qualifications are often higher than those for attorneys with less experience or qualifications. Furthermore, the legal fees associated with a major charge will be higher than those associated with a small criminal conduct.

If a person has been arrested, they must typically appear for an arraignment, during which the charges will be publicly announced, the defendant will enter a not guilty plea, and the court will make a decision on bail or terms of release.

Your criminal defense attorney should have legal expertise and experience defending the charges you are facing, as well as experience in the court where the charges were brought, and be a competent litigator and negotiator.

Because not all criminal defense lawyers have practiced in both state and federal courts, it’s crucial to find out where the lawyer has worked and whether he or she has handled cases comparable to yours.

In a criminal case, an arraignment is the first formal proceeding before a court. The charges that have been filed against the defendant will usually be announced by the court. The defendant will enter a plea of not guilty, or the court will do so on the defendant’s behalf.

A person who has been arrested is often taken to the police station and “booked.” This means that the cops will collect personal, historical, and biographical data.

The police will use this information to see if the person has any outstanding warrants or a criminal record in order to assess whether he or she can be released from detention and if a bail/bond is required.

A Defense Attorney in Chicago earns an average of $97,480 a year. In case you need a quick salary calculation, that comes out to be around $46.87 per hour. This equates to $1,875 each week or $8,123 per month.


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