How Much Does a Lawyer Make?


The Australian Taxation Office recently released its 2013/14 income statistics by occupation and gender, with specialist medical practitioners taking out many of the top spots.

Notably absent once again from those lists are two occupations often perceived by members of the public to be amongst the highest paying – solicitors and barristers.

And like previous lists, the latest statistics confirm there is still a significant gender pay gap in Australia.

50 highest paying jobs

According to the ATO, the 50 highest paying occupations by gender are:

Males:

  1. Neurosurgeon $577,674
  2. Ophthalmologist $552,947
  3. Cardiologist $453,253
  4. Plastic and reconstructive surgeon $448,530
  5. Gynaecologist; obstetrician $446,507
  6. Otorhinolaryngologist $445,939
  7. Orthopedic surgeon $439,629
  8. Urologist $433,792
  9. Vascular surgeon $417,524
  10. Gastroenterologist $415,192
  11. Diagnostic and interventional radiologist $386,003
  12. Dermatologist $383,880
  13. Judge $381,323
  14. Anaesthetist $370,492
  15. Cardiothoracic surgeon $358,043
  16. Surgeon — general $357,996
  17. Specialist physicians — other $344,860
  18. Radiation oncologist $336,994
  19. Medical oncologist $322,178
  20. Securities and finance dealer $320,452
  21. Thoracic medicine specialist $315,444
  22. Specialist physician — general medicine $315,114
  23. Intensive care specialist $308,033
  24. Renal medicine specialist $298,681
  25. Neurologist $298,543
  26. Financial investment manager $288,790
  27. Investment broker $286,530
  28. Paediatric surgeon $282,508
  29. Clinical haematologist $271,738
  30. Futures trader $264,830
  31. Endocrinologist $258,972
  32. Australian cricketer $257,527
  33. Rheumatologist $256,933
  34. Dental specialist $253,442
  35. Magistrate $246,737
  36. Equities analyst; investment dealer $245,826
  37. Paediatrician $239,405
  38. Stock exchange dealer; stockbroker $238,192
  39. Psychiatrist $234,557
  40. Emergency medicine specialist $232,595
  41. Member of Parliament $232,093
  42. Pathologist $224,378
  43. Company secretary — corporate governance $218,432
  44. State governor $212,652
  45. Actuary $196,144
  46. Sports physician $187,468
  47. Petroleum engineer $185,808

48/49. (equal) Chief executive officer $181,849; Executive director; managing director; public servant — secretary or deputy secretary $181,849
50. Mining production manager $179,439

Females:

  1. Judge $355,844
  2. Neurosurgeon $323,682
  3. Plastic and reconstructive surgeon $281,608
  4. Futures trader $281,600
  5. Vascular surgeon $271,529
  6. Gynaecologist; obstetrician $264,628
  7. Gastroenterologist $260,925
  8. Magistrate $260,161
  9. Anaesthetist $243,582
  10. Ophthalmologist $217,242
  11. Cardiologist $215,920
  12. Urologist $213,094
  13. Surgeon — general $210,796
  14. Medical oncologist $208,612
  15. Specialist physicians — other $207,599
  16. Specialist physician — general medicine $207,225
  17. Otorhinolaryngologist $200,136
  18. Dermatologist $195,030
  19. Diagnostic and interventional radiologist $180,695
  20. Cardiothoracic surgeon $175,500
  21. Paediatric surgeon $175,314
  22. Endocrinologist $174,542
  23. Member of Parliament $173,331
  24. Rheumatologist $169,409
  25. Intensive care specialist $169,369
  26. Emergency medicine specialist $165,786
  27. Orthopedic surgeon $159,479
  28. Neurologist $155,217
  29. Renal medicine specialist $155,133
  30. Psychiatrist $152,437
  31. Clinical haematologist $147,970
  32. Paediatrician $147,347
  33. Securities and finance dealer $145,208
  34. Dental specialist $140,505
  35. Actuary $136,819
  36. Radiation oncologist $135,678
  37. Financial investment manager $134,481
  38. Petroleum engineer $133,315
  39. Mining production manager $133,061
  40. General medical practitioner $129,834
  41. Thoracic medicine specialist $127,645
  42. Stockbroker $124,433
  43. Paving plant operator $123,281
  44. Mining engineer $119,564
  45. Tribunal member $119,219
  46. Occupational medicine specialist; public health physician; sports physician $118,310
  47. Geophysicist $117,575
  48. Chief executive officer; executive director; managing director; public servant — secretary or deputy secretary $116,855
  49. Engineering manager $116,732
  50. Metallurgist $110,359

Judges preside over higher courts such as the District or Supreme Court while magistrates sit in the Local and Children’s courts.

How much do solicitors and barristers make?

According to the ATO, the average taxable income for solicitors and barristers in the 2013/2014 financial year was:

  • Male solicitors – $138,379 (20,854 solicitors)
  • Female solicitors – $99,891 (27,816 solicitors)
  • Male barristers – $168,766 (797 barristers)
  • Female barristers – $59,436 (777 barristers)

The figures suggest there are approximately 7,000 more female lawyers than male lawyers in Australia.

Unfortunately, the figures do not indicate experience levels and it could be suggested that part of the enormous gender pay disparity results from a higher proportion of female law graduates entering the profession in recent years.

That said, recent research suggests that female lawyers with similar experience to males generally receive less income – especially barristers.


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About Ugur Nedim

Ugur Nedim is an Accredited Specialist Criminal Lawyer and Principal at Sydney Criminal Lawyers, Sydney's leading firm of criminal and traffic defence lawyers.
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