This question can best be answered if you understand the circumstances under which lawyers work depending on the State they are working from. Contrary to popular belief, lawyers don’t make millions yearly especially State attorneys that have to work for 40 hours a week only to make approximately $30,000 yearly. Law Careers site has good information on this.
Considering that other federal government jobs will pay you even more than $30,000 annually, some lawyers earn just enough to live a comfortable life but not to make them wealthy.
Lawyers that make more money are usually those that work for private firms. However, in most cases attorneys in private firms have to work for more hours some even up to 66 hours per week in a large firm. A medium sized firm usually pays more than what a state lawyer gets.
Large and established law firms pay their lawyers up to $150,000 or even more per year. The reason may be that they are held in high regard in such organizations hence the higher pay.
Lawyers that become partners at large firms also make a lot of money and they usually work for less hours. Such attorneys are usually senior in their organization, a position that earns them hundred thousand of dollars a year.
Though it takes time for most lawyers to reach such levels, this is a possibility and a great way of making more money working for less hours.
Law is one of the most lucrative profession but even with its higher pay, note that is a highly stressful occupation. Therefore, you should pursue it only if you are passionate about it.
Even if you are after the money, you can enjoy practicing law and get paid well for it. We interviewed a bankruptcy attorney in Burbank, CA, who really enjoys helping people in financial trouble.
As for choice of working hours and salaries, you will have to the judge of that. Therefore, to answer the question how do lawyers make money?
Where you choose to work whether it is for the state or a private firm, will determine how much money you make as an attorney.