Now, Federal Lawyers Number 35,940 and Are Employed in 203 Federal Agencies

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It would take 42 Airbus A380s, the largest passenger jet in the world, filled at maximum capacity to transport all 35,940 attorneys working in America’s 203 federal agencies.

And federal lawyers are expensive to taxpayers: $5.2 billion in 2019, the latest year available.

The Department of Justice makes up a large chunk of that with almost one-third of all federal attorneys employed in the prosecutorial agency.

But, that leaves two of every three federal lawyers employed outside of the traditional law enforcement agency.

For example, in 2019, the Social Security Administration employed 4,037 attorneys, there were 2,017 in the Department of Treasury and 1,832 in the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The Department of Veteran Affairs had 1,543, Department of Health and Human Services employed 1,097, Labor Department had 602 and Education Department retained 487.

Of the 35,940 attorneys, 37 percent worked in Washington D.C.

In 2019, 1,972 federal attorneys made more than $200,000.

The employment of federal attorneys has grown in recent years. In 2016, there were 34,140 attorneys in federal agencies, with $4.8 billion spent on salaries. In 2014, the federal government employed 25,060 lawyers in more than 200 agencies. That year, the top lawyer salary was $266,469, while the highest paid in 2019 was $294,297.

As the size, scope and power of the federal government increases, we expect to see even more lawyers employed by Uncle Sam.

The #WasteOfTheDay is presented by the forensic auditors at

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