In Boston, a public defender makes $35,000-$117,000. When you're first starting out, you make less. But this varies by location, e.g., in Boise Idaho, a public defender makes $38,000-$60,000, a much smaller range.
Public defenders make less than associates at large law firms and less than general counsel in large corporations. However, there are many many types of lawyers, e.g., if you work as a lawyer for the government, you could be a public defender, or city attorney, prosecutor, public interest lawyer, or attorney general. If you do not work for the government, you could work for a large private law firm, or a smaller one, for be in-house counsel for a corporation.
Check out this site for a list of salaries for all types of lawyers.</body></html>