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Salary

The money is terrific. Vastly better than doctor money and with many more opportunities to have "a killer year" (you don't want one of those in DoctorLand). Something like $120k-$130k a year on average for lawyers out of Ivy League law schools their first year. A partner in a decent firm should make $300k-$500k a year. And a big fat ambulance chasing lawyer who just nails the insurance company for the client's left turn onto a one way street can make a few million bucks or more just in one payday lawsuit.

You'll make more steadily big income if handling the interests for a large company, much less if you're employed by local government or by a 7-year-old girl who is paying you 4 cents an hour to prosecute the bully who knocked over her lemonade stand. (It's an open and shut case. There were witnesses.)

Show your ID at the counter.

But lawyers have huge ranges in pay—the low end are do-gooder public service jobs like working for the ACLU or the government; at the high end are people who went to law school and then did something else business-y with their lives like package real estate deals or set up a hedge fund. Or like Robert Shapiro, famous defender of O.J. Simpson, started an Internet company—LegalZoom—which is probably worth over a billion dollars today. Hey—if the glove fits, wear it.

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