Career Definition of a Copyright Lawyer
Like other attorneys, copyright lawyers may work independently in a solo practice or as an associate or partner within a law firm. Copyright lawyers focus on specific areas of practice, such as applying for copyrights or litigating copyright disputes, or they may build sufficient expertise in copyright law to perform a range of functions. Daily tasks for copyright lawyers may vary depending on their experience and their clients' needs but can include filing paperwork with courts or government offices, meeting with prospective clients to assess their needs, researching specific aspects of the U.S. copyright code and communicating with opposing counsel about technical aspects of a court case.
|Education||Law school, state bar exam|
|Job Skills||Specialized knowledge of copyright law, listening and communication skills, attention to detail, ability to work under pressure, analytical abilities|
|Median Salary (2017)*||$119,250 per year (all lawyers)|
|Job Growth (2016-2026)*||8% increase (all lawyers)|
Source: *US Bureau of Labor Statistics
Prospective copyright lawyers must graduate from an accredited law school before they can qualify for admission into a state bar association, which is a requirement for lawyers in every state. In addition to being admitted to a state bar association, some practicing lawyers may choose to gain additional certification, such as admission to the American Bar Association. After graduating from law school, lawyers, including copyright lawyers, may wish to gain more specialized education in their practice field by earning a Master of Laws degree.
Practicing lawyers need to have a high degree of specialized knowledge in their practice field. For copyright lawyers, this means a thorough understanding of the policies and procedures involved with domestic and international copyright law. Copyright lawyers need to be able to interact effectively and respectfully with their clients by listening carefully, communicating clearly, maintaining confidentiality and working on each client matter diligently. Other skills important to the practice of law include strict attention to detail, strong analytical abilities, excellent written and oral communication skills and the ability to work effectively under pressure.
Career and Economic Outlook
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the high volume of graduates from American law schools each year creates stiff competition in the attorney job market, even though jobs for lawyers are projected by the BLS to increase 8% from 2016 to 2026. Income for lawyers, including copyright lawyers, can vary widely and is heavily dependent on factors such as experience and employer; however, the BLS figures indicate a median annual income of $119,250 for all attorneys in 2017.
Alternative Career Options
Other careers similar to copyright law that might appeal to you include:
Like lawyers, paralegals may provide legal research and analyze cases, but paralegals assist lawyers and do not represent clients. Most paralegals earn an associate's degree in paralegal studies to prepare for their career. The BLS projects much faster than average job growth of 15% for paralegals and legal assistants from 2016 to 2026. The median salary for paralegals and legal assistants was $50,410 as of May 2017.
While copyright lawyers help clients apply for copyrights and represent them in disputes over copyrighted material, judges apply the law and preside over these disputes in a courtroom. To become a judge, one must first be a lawyer in good standing with many years of experience. In most cases, judges are appointed or elected. The BLS reports that judges and hearing officers, who work in local, state or federal courts, earned a median annual salary of $115,520 as of May 2017. The BLS projects that employment in this career field will increase 5% from 2016 to 2026.