How to Become an

Environmental Lawyer

The complete career guide to be an Environmental Lawyer: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $136,260
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • 5.6%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook
  • Dependable Daily Workload
    Career Attribute

Environmental lawyers defend law and regulations as well as advocate for new policies related to keeping the environment clean and safe from hazardous waste and materials.

Recommended Schools

What is an Environmental Lawyer?

The following responsibilities are common for Environmental Lawyers:

  • Analyze and interpret data collected from literature, reviews, case law, civil and criminal regulatory research and sample findings
  • Interviews scientists to interpret data through court proceedings and trials
  • Assesses damages from a particular environmental event while suggesting punitive monetary damages and values
  • Act as both advisors and legal advocates in the protection of the environment and its natural resources
  • Compiles evidence, interviews clients, witnesses and persons of interest while developing a case and presenting the case at trial

A Day In The Life

Environmental lawyers advise clients on green standards and sustainability issues.  They advise clients on issues like clean water technology, water law, clean climate change law and management of land.

Depending on where they work, their general duties include, meetings with clients, researching environmental legal developments, drafting legal documents, and educating the public about environmental law and its importance.  They also spend a significant time in court proceedings.

Typical Work Schedule

This is generally a full-time, 40 hour work week position.  Depending on some case loads hours may vary or be odd and/or long and arduous.

Projected Job Growth

As sustainability and global priorities increase so does the demand for individuals wanting to enforce and legislate new and current laws aiding with climate change and global warming.

Typical Employers

Environmental lawyers generally work for environmental organizations, non-profit organizations or government agencies.  Others can go into private practice or run consulting firms.

Recommended Schools

How To Become an Environmental Lawyer

An environmental lawyer can spend around 7 years in school before obtaining the proper qualifications to practice law.  A career in this field requires a bachelor’s degree in a related subject, followed by 3 years of law school.  A law school graduate must then successfully complete the state bar exam for the state where they will be practicing law.

Environmental Lawyer Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

Low Range




High Range


National Hourly Wage

Low Range




High Range


How do Environmental Lawyer salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Environmental Lawyer's can make an average annual salary of $136,260, or $66 per hour. On the lower end, they can make $76,300 or $37 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #22 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Average Salary Nationally

Programs and Degrees

Here are the most common degrees for becoming an Environmental Lawyer. a is usually recommended and specifically a degree or coursework that prepares you for the particular field, see below.

Highest Education Among Environmental Lawyers

  • 91%   Doctorate
  • 4.1%   Masters
  • 3.5%   Bachelors
  • 0.5%   Associates
  • 0.4%   College
  • 0.4%   High School
  • 0.1%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs


2024 Est. Jobs


Job Growth Rate


Est. New Jobs


How does Environmental Lawyer job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 43,800 jobs for a total of 822,500 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 5.6% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Above Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #401 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Avg. Growth Nationally

What Companies Employ The Most Environmental Lawyers

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Legal services 376,100 22,100 22%
Self-employed workers 165,500 -1,800 -2%
Local government, excluding education and hospitals 55,600 5,300 5%

Want To Be an Environmental Lawyer? Get Started!

Generate your free SmartPlan™ to identify colleges you like, and potential ways to save on a degree or certification program toward your career with courses, offers, and much more!

Enroll Now and Get Started

or Learn More →