Most lucrative practice areas

Across the country, the median pay for attorneys is $115,820. But, salaries can vary considerably based on the size of the firm and the city where it’s located. A lawyer's specialty also plays a big part in compensation. 

We talked to experts and looked at several reports, including the 2016 Salary Guide by Robert Half Legal and a study by PayScale. The online compensation-information company studied salaries of 28,300 attorneys and determined typical pay boosts based on practice areas. It used two years worth of data and identified the median. 

Not surprisingly, the fastest growing practice areas tend to provide the highest pay.

“Candidates with backgrounds in the hottest practice areas are in short supply, which is intensifying competition and driving up salaries,” the Robert Half Legal guide says. “Highly sought-after legal professionals are receiving multiple job offers, counteroffers and, in some cases, signing bonuses. To entice job seekers, employers are enhancing salaries and benefits.”

There are four practice areas that stand out for higher pay: Complex litigation, Corporate law, Intellectual property and Health law