some years ago, you had sanitation workers (San Francisco, I think ) earn more than some lawyers across the country.
There was an old advertisement claiming that a particular group of people had little chance of making more money than a zookeeper. The ad played on the public's perception of zookeeper as someone who cleaned cages and picked up elephant poop for minimum wage. The fact is that "zookeeper" includes a lot of people with a PhD in biology, microbiology, or and DVM (doctor of veterinary medicine). Once you put reality into the equation, then it's no surprise that many would make less than a "zookeeper"...
You, like many others, seem to wrongly assume that the occupation "lawyer" equates to high pay, and it doesn't. Just like being a commercial pilot doesn't by default equate in high pay.
Unlike, say,*most* board certified physicians, who can usually by choice command a considerably higher pay than the median American household, lawyers and pilots usually depend on specific types of lawyering or positions if they want to reap considerably higher pay.
Pilot: Flying for a regional airline flying a regional airline airframe = common man pay.
Pilot: Flying for a major airline or UPS/FedEX/or other cargo company, in a large airframe across the Atlantic or Pacific = nice pay.
Attorney: local criminal law/public atty/family law, etc.. attorney = generally common man pay
Attorney: established tort attorney (aka ambulance chaser), tort firms, well established large corporate firms, etc. = nice pay.
What you may not realize is that there has always been money in the sanitation business. Sanitation doesn't just include trash pickup, but includes a sub industry in food and medical fields as well. A person charged with the clean-up, swabbing (using biological detection swabs), and sending regular samples to the lab of how well a food processing plant is cleaned and sanitized may earn $70-80k (U.S. West Coast), and can routinely earn $50-65k per annum (the rest of the U.S.) with a several years experience. The "sanitation" business as a whole is also a bit more technical than most people realize as the only experience they have with "sanitation" is the neighborhood trash truck.
It is proverb that many attorneys all over the nation (like licensed Architects) with far more experience are earning less than that and not by choice. It has gotten so bad in the legal field that some law schools have started warning students about having unrealistic expectations of the legal field.
Teila K. Day