Attorneys, frequently referred to as lawyers, are legal professionals. They may serve as advocates for individuals, corporations or governmental entities in civil or criminal trials. They may serve as advisers in a multitude of specialties including tax law, bankruptcy, contracts, intellectual property and others. All 50 states require lawyers to be licensed by the state in order to practice within that state. Attorneys are highly educated and highly compensated professionals. Those who practiced in Tennessee tended to earn below the national averages.
The mean annual income for Tennessee-based attorneys was $117,400 compared to the mean national average of $129,020 as of May 2009, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics. The bottom 10 percent of Tennessee-based attorneys earned less than $48,160 per year, while the top 10 percent earned annual wages of more than $166,400. The middle 50 percent of attorneys who practiced in Tennessee earned between $69,070 and $151,950 per year.
Tennessee is divided into three regions: Eastern Tennessee, Middle Tennessee and Western Tennessee. Attorneys who practiced in the Eastern Tennessee city of Knoxville earned mean annual wages of $115,880 as of May 2009, according to the BLS. Those who practiced in the state's capital of Nashville in Middle Tennessee earned mean annual wages of $112,370. Those who practiced in Western Tennessee's Memphis earned mean wages of $120,360 per year.
Experienced Tennessee-based attorneys tend to earn higher wages than those who are just starting out in their career. A Memphis, Tennessee-based attorney with no more than three years of experience earned a median annual income of $82,350 as of May 2011, according to the Salary website. An intermediate level Memphis-based attorney with up to five years of experience earned a median annual salary of $105,939. A seasoned Memphis-based attorney with between five and eight years of experience earned a median annual income of $133,699.
Attorneys may practice in a wide variety of fields, and their specialty may affect their level of income. Real estate attorneys who practiced in Chattanooga, Tennessee earned a median annual income of $105,095 while a Chattanooga-based patent attorney earned median wages of $108,871 per year as of May 2011, according to the Salary website. An intermediate level tax attorney who practiced in Clarksville, Tennessee earned a median annual income of $116,803 while her counterpart who practiced general law in the city earned a mean annual salary of $105,485.