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The Salary of Legal Aid Lawyers

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A legal aid lawyer is a person who provides services to the public at no cost. Many people with legal issues can't afford to hire an attorney to represent the issue. A legal aid lawyer may help a client with legal documents, he may give legal advice or he may represent a client in court. A legal aid lawyer typically doesn't make as much as a lawyer in private practice or one that works for a large law firm.

Legal Aid Lawyer Earnings

In 2004, the average salary for a lawyer working in public service, specifically in environmental law as an example was $77,500 a year, according to State University. A Career Builder service called shows the national average in the United States for legal aid lawyers is $94,647 a year as of 2011. The low end of the range is $72,803 and the top range is $136,529 a year.

Average Lawyer's Salaries

Many lawyers go into legal aid to help others and perform a public service. There is a rather wide pay difference between lawyers who do this work and lawyers who work for a law firm or similar positions. In general, a lawyer makes an average of $110,590 per year, according to the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) as of 2008. The low end of the salary range was $74,980 and the high end was $163,320.


A person working as a legal aid lawyer can work for government agencies or non-profit groups. Another avenue for employment is public-interest groups. An example is the American Civil Liberties Union. The reason for lower salaries for legal aid lawyers may be limited funding for some government agencies or the not for profit the organization relying on donations from private individuals or companies.

Financial Considerations

Education to become a lawyer is expensive and is a reason why some professionals do not go into legal aid as a career specialty. To become a lawyer, a person must have a bachelor's degree and then attend law school. Tuition varies, but it can range from $4,711 to $35,502 a year for public law schools. Private schools can range from $8,700 to $41,200 a year as of 2006 to 2007. Total cost can run from $25,000 to $124,000. When you consider that the average wages for a legal aid lawyer runs from $77,500 to $94,647 a year, education payments can follow a lawyer for many years if he chooses to follow the legal aid career path.


Debbie McRill went from managing a Texas Department of Criminal Justice office to working for Compaq and Hewlett-Packard as a technical writer and project manager in 1997. Debbie has also owned her own businesses and understands both corporate and small business challenges. Her background includes Six Sigma training, and an Information Development career with journalism and creative writing as her passion.