Salary of a Criminal Justice Lawyer

The road to being a successful criminal justice lawyer is long and hard. The average lawyer must complete at least seven years of advanced education and pass a difficult bar examination before he or she can even begin to practice law. Still, most criminal justice lawyers can expect a decent salary to compensate for their arduous journey; of course, this salary will depend heavily on exactly how they decide to use their law degrees.


The world of law is competitive. There are far more prospective lawyers applying to law school than are ever admitted, and the same difficulties arise in the job market. However, in 2006 the median annual earnings for a criminal justice lawyer were over £65,000, and that number wil only continue to grow. Of course, this salaray is well-earned; not only must lawyers excel in school and in practice, they collect a lot of debts along the way, both in establishing their education and in establishing their practices.


The salary of a criminal justice lawyer will vary greatly depending on the type of work a criminal justice lawyer desires to perform. While criminal justice lawyers specialise in criminal cases rather than civil cases, there are still numerous other factors to consider. For example, some lawyers choose to be partners in a law firm while others own their own practices. Other criminal justice lawyers decide to work for the government, either on the state level or on the federal level. The type, size and location of the employer greatly affects the salary of a criminal justice lawyer, and experienced lawyers must find the best balance between professional goals and desired incomes.

Time Frame

Like any career, law requires dedication and a pursuit of continued excellence. Criminal justice lawyers must usually start at the bottom and work their way to the top. While company managers and firm partners will earn the highest salaries, they did not get there overnight. Criminal justice lawyers fresh out of law school will receive significally smaller incomes and will often be required to accept jobs they are overqualified for. However, new lawyers who are willing to relocate and who are willing to specialise in multiple disciplines may find a quicker path to success.


There are other benefits to a criminal justice lawyer's salary that are not always included in the monetary total. These benefits are also factors that must be considered when a lawyer researches prospective employers. Lawyers, like any professionals, require health care and retirement plans, but these benefits vary greatly depending on the business. Some larger firms may offer packages that are worth a lesser salary. Criminal justice lawyers who opt to start their own practices will not automatically receive insurance coverage. Instead, they will be required to pay for their own outside benefits, and this can greatly reduce their actual income.


While salary is always an important factor to consider, there is more to practicing criminal law than money. Criminal justice lawyers will need to be flexible when they first start out, but with experience and time comes freedom. Certain areas of the criminal justice world do pay more, but individual goals may not always match these disciplines. In the end, a criminal justice lawyer will only be happy if he or she finds the work to be fulfilling, and sometimes the most fulfilling work does not offer the highest income. Choosing a career based solely on the salary is rarely the best choice, and while there is a lot of money to be made as a criminal justice lawyer, there are other benefits, both monetary and personal, to consider.

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About the Author

Jennifer Boyden has been writing professionally since 2007. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in creative writing from Emerson College and graduate degrees in mental health counseling and criminal justice from Suffolk University. Boyden also has experience playing and coaching collegiate softball and is a CrossFit Level 1 trainer.