The Average Salary of Intellectual Property Lawyers

by Andrine Redsteer

Intellectual property concerns human creations of an artistic nature, such as music, books and artwork. It also encompasses the intellectual capital of business organizations, such as trade secrets. Intellectual property attorneys protect their clients' intellectual capital through acquisition of patents, copyrights and trademarks. An intellectual property attorney must fulfill the same requirements as other attorneys; namely, she must possess a law degree and pass a bar exam. (ref 1,2)


As of 2010, lawyers earned an average annual salary of $112,760, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Lawyers in the bottom 10 percent earned annual salaries of less than $54,130, while lawyers in the top 10 percent earned annual salaries in excess of $166,400, according to the BLS. Factors such as location, experience and legal specialization play a role in average annual wage disparity.

Regional Comparisons reports an average salary of $119,907 for intellectual property attorneys, as of June 2013. Data from in 2013 lists an average annual salary of $121,125 for intellectual property attorneys in Seattle, and an average annual salary of $90,593 for Chicago-based intellectual property attorneys. In New York, these attorneys average $97,192 annually, while those in Atlanta earn average annual salaries of $107,160.

Contributing Factors

Intellectual property attorneys working in large, reputable firms attract corporations as clients. These attorneys can earn considerably more than an intellectual property attorney with a solo practice. The salaries of intellectual property attorneys within large firms vary, depending on education and experience. Attorneys with undergraduate degrees in science or engineering can earn more than colleagues lacking similar degrees. Intellectual property law firms often assign patent preparation to associates with training in science or engineering. Associates with technical knowledge more easily recognize the needs of corporate clients seeking protection for inventions or trade secrets.

Career Outlook

From 2010 to 2010, the BLS predicts an employment growth rate of 10 percent for attorneys, which is roughly the same growth rate as other occupations. The BLS anticipates a curb on the overall demand for attorneys due to increasing reliance on paralegals and legal assistants. However, intellectual property attorneys likely face better prospects because of expected growth in biotechnology, e-commerce and computer engineering.

About the Author

Andrine Redsteer's writing on tribal gaming has been published in "The Guardian" and she continues to write about reservation economic development. Redsteer holds a Bachelor of Arts in history from the University of Washington, a Master of Arts in Native American studies from Montana State University and a Juris Doctor from Seattle University School of Law.

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