Approximately 8,158 people worked as attorneys in the greater Seattle, Washington area as of 2008, according to the Washington Employment Security Department. The need for attorneys in the city will increase by more than 9 percent from 2008 through 2018, predicts the department. This growth in the demand for lawyers will create 237 new jobs in the Seattle metro area during that time frame. During their first year of year employment, attorneys who fill these new jobs should enjoy higher salaries than state and national averages based on trends reported for 2010 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The starting wages for a first year attorney in the greater Seattle area was $29.43 per hour or less as of May 2010, explains the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Full-time entry level first year lawyers in the city made $61,210 per year or less. The overall average salary for all attorneys in Seattle was $61.43 per hour and $127,780 per year. The highest paid 10th of all attorneys in Seattle received wages of more than $80.00 per hour and $166,400 per year.
State and National Comparisons
Entry level attorneys throughout Washington made $27.37 per hour and $56,930 per year or less as of May 2010, according to the BLS. Starting wages for attorneys in Seattle exceeded the statewide rate by more than 7 percent. The U.S. starting wages for lawyers was $26.02 per hour and $54,130 per year at the time, meaning that Seattle attorneys earned 13 percent more than the nationwide rate.
Comparison to Other Washington Cities
First year attorneys in Seattle were the third highest paid in Washington as of May 2010, according to the BLS. The highest paying area was the parts of Washington included in the Lewiston, Idaho, metropolitan area, where annual starting wages for attorneys was $64,500 or less. Tacoma ranked second with entry level wages of $63,000 annually or less. Starting wages in Seattle were 24 percent above the lowest paying city in the state, Yakima, where attorneys made $49,290 per year or less.
To become a lawyer in Washington, candidates must graduate from a law school approved by the American Bar Association. Seattle served as home to two of the three law schools in Washington with accreditation from the American Bar Association. These Seattle schools are the Seattle University School of Law and the University of Washington School of Law. Both schools offer three-year programs that culminate in Juris Doctor degrees.