Before you decide to become a lawyer, you may consider which types of attorneys earn the most. It’s essential to know how your salary will be affected by your choice of practice area. There are many types of lawyers. Some are defense-oriented, while others focus on representing victims of personal injury crimes, such as Gossman Attorneys at law. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) groups lawyers into two broad categories: lawyers and judges; and paralegals and legal assistants. In addition to these broad categories, there are many specialties within the legal profession. Most people believe that the best-paid lawyers deal with corporate law. It is not valid. The best-paid lawyers in the world handle divorce and family law cases. They do not just deal with big corporations; they get exceptionally well paid because they focus on a specific type of case. Take some time to do your homework and research how many different types of lawyers get paid.
Which Lawyers Get Paid The Most?
Lawyers are a notoriously difficult group to segment to provide salary data. The first challenge is that many lawyers have non-lawyer job titles. These non-lawyer job titles can make it difficult to identify actual attorneys from job descriptions alone. (As an aside, this is why, even up to 2015, significant publications citing lawyer salary data were still getting it wrong.) The other difficulty with lawyers is that many states permit “dual practice,” where attorneys hold both a law license and another type of license, such as a real estate broker’s license. In these cases, which license the attorney uses to self-identify in surveys and directories may be up to them.
Lawyers who get paid the most have specialized in a niche, have an excellent reputation and have done their time. There are three main types of lawyers: those representing the government, corporations, and individuals.
- Corporation lawyers
The highest-paid are the corporate lawyers. They make an average of $150-200K per year. Most of this money comes from clients paying for their services rather than the law firm.
- Government lawyers
Lawyers for the government make about half as much as corporate lawyers do. The difference is that the government pays for its employees’ legal fees in many cases. Government lawyers can make a good living if they want to work in a big city, but not if they want to work in a small town.
- Individual lawyers
Individuals’ lawyers may make as little as $40K or $50K annually, depending on where they live and their type of practice. The average income is about $80K per year plus benefits. The most crucial factor in determining an individual lawyer’s earnings is whether or not they have a practice.
Lawyers generally get paid a lot of money, but some lawyers get paid more than others. The only things that matter are:
- Your area of expertise: If you’re a lawyer specializing in personal injury law, you’ll earn more than a lawyer specializing in wills and estates.
- Time: It’s not surprising that senior partners earn more than junior associates.
- The size of the firm you work at: Whether you’re at a boutique firm or a large corporation, your reputation will precede you. Some lawyers work in large firms and make lots of money doing things like buying companies, filing lawsuits against companies, and helping people do other things that large companies do. These types of lawyers are called “Biglaw” lawyers because they work at “Biglaw” firms (also known as “Big lawyers”). Other lawyers work in small firms or start their firms and make slightly less money doing things like defense work and helping people with personal injury claims (also called “small lawyers”). Some even start their firms, also known as “solo practitioners.”
Once you analyze the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Occupational Employment Statistics program data to compare the median annual salaries of lawyers with different job titles, the key findings are:
- The highest-paying type of law is intellectual property, where lawyers earn a median annual salary of $143,000. That’s about three times more than what the lowest-paying type of law pays.
- The lowest-paying type of law is criminal justice, where lawyers earn a median annual salary of just $54,000 (less than half of what IP lawyers make).
Lawyers are some of the highest-paid professionals in the United States, but which lawyers earn the most? Many jobs within this broad field can pay very different salaries. Once you go through this article, you will learn how much money you can expect to make as a lawyer and which specialties pay the most.