Law Degrees & Salaries: Australian vs USA?

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22 March 2015
I'm in desperate need of career advice. Please help! As of late i've become aware of a troubling statistic for my desired future career. All through high school I was raised with the notion that pursuing a career in Law would reek a higher fortune than most careers. According to Payscale the median salary for an Australian Lawyer/Solicitor salary is whereas the median respective salary in the U.S.A is above 100k ($114,000 in 2013 and rising)

I'd be wrong to not assume there may be other factors i'm not considering such as a difference in economy and a larger populous, but even I can tell that's quite a huge difference between Australian vs. American salaries.

I'm fresh out of High school I have the option to pursue a Bachelor of Law next year at an Australian University; however i'm unsure whether studying in Australia would be in my best financial interest now that i've been exposed to this $40,000+ gap in locations. My understanding of law is rudimentary enough to know Australian/American law are not compatible whatsoever. The idea of studying Law in Australia for 5 years and transferring to America to go back to American Bar Accredited Uni to begin a second degree sounds nothing short of pointless to me. This is why I'm in serious need of a qualified response to the my question.
(Please consider the following points in your response)

- I'm inherently an arguer who loves to advocate and share my subjective view of what is right.
- I have naive ambitions to establish my own small law firm and watch it grow over long years of hard work and dedication.
- For the sake of for the response i'm probably 50% ambitious to become a lawyer - leaving the remaining 50% because I enjoy the roles of Lawyers/Barristers/Solicitors ect. + Enjoy arguing and resolving.
- I have no savings to support myself or Uni fees if i were to move to America.

Question: Would it be advantageous on my career to move to America next year to study Law in an average standard university and how hard would it be to get employed by a good firm or corp/Gov with a C grade degree?

Thank you so much for your time!
Lawyer Salary Information | Best Jobs | US News Careers
Attorney / Lawyer Salary (Australia)

According to Payscale the median salary for an Australian Lawyer/Solicitor salary is 66k*


Well-Known Member
10 February 2015
Hi there,

Not being a legal question, it's not really a question that we can give you an answer to. This is the sort of thing that you will need to decide yourself. You can contact Universities to find out admission requirements both in Australia and overseas. You can look up employment statistics in the United States. You can contact legal firms here and overseas to find out what they're looking for in a graduate, how high your grades would need to be etc.

If you're interested in a career that involves debating and advocacy then there are many career paths that may interest you- including lobbying, politics and business.

Additionally, I'm not sure what the statistics you found are based on. The salary of a lawyer depends on many things such as who they work for, their experience in the field, the area of law that they practice in, whether they are a solicitor or barrister and so on.

It is also dependent on what you are looking for in a career. A partner in a law firm might make a fair bit of money, however the hours can be very long and it takes a lot of hard work to get to that point.
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Tracy B

Well-Known Member
24 December 2014
Hi Mr.BigMoney,

I agree with Ivy. This website is really for legal questions as opposed to academic/career problems that touch on the law.

However, my two-cents is that, as Ivy advised already, it really depends on what practise you decide to enter into once you graduate from law. Further, a degree in law opens many career opportunities other than strictly practising as a lawyer (e.g. meditation/dispute resolution, compliance, business, comedy and performance...)

If you do decide to practise in law, though:

There are people who earn more practising in family or criminal (or the many numerous other areas of law) than others who practise in corporate/commercial. Within corporate/commercial there are a string of specific practises that also have salary differences. Taxation generally has a higher starting wage but that is partly because taxation law is an extremely complicated and specific area of law in Australia (and constantly changing) and the liabilities for lawyers practising in taxation are relatively greater than in other areas.

Obtaining a degree in law in Australia does not limit you to practising in Australia. You can move to the US, or HK or UK or Canada (or any of the other numerous common law or civil law jurisdictions) once you graduate. A bachelor's degree in Australia allows you to do your professional legal qualifications in many common law countries (as well as civil countries subject to conversion exams). You may also decide to get dual (or more than two) practising certificates.

Although the salary in the US may be higher than in Australia (a statistics I dispute by the way), the competition in the US is also far greater. Practising styles and lifestyle demands are also extremely different between the jurisdictions (which contribute in the form of non-pecuniary value). From personal experience and speaking with friends, it is far nicer practising commercial law in Australia than doing the same in the UK/HK/US (hours, stress, expectations, colleagues etc). But again, this depends on the specific firm you end up in. Note that every law firm has its own firm culture which cannot be generalised/limited to geographies. Further, the salary for entry lawyers differ from that of associates (junior and senior). Hence, you'll need to look at salary growth vs. number of years actually working in law (as opposed to years practising as a "lawyer" or "associate").

The question you should be asking yourself is: do you really like law studies? If so, you'll do well at uni and go on to prosper irrespective of what career/country you end up in.
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Well-Known Member
30 May 2014
I've always considered it a pity lawyers generally are far more interested in maximizing revenue than achieving the best result for their clients. When its all said and done, focussing on the client first would appear to ensure client satisfaction and hence repeat business and referrals leading to more business.
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