What are the Highest-Paid Types of Lawyers?
Brian White | June 25, 2020 | Personal Injury
The fact is that the average salary for lawyers in American depends on many factors. A critical factor in determining annual salary is the attorney’s geographical location.
Attorneys earn an average of $94,446 per year, according to Indeed. However, that is just one source.
The American Bar Association (ABA) states that attorneys earn an average salary of $144,230 per year. The U.S. Department of Labor places the average annual salary for lawyers as $145,300, which is closer to the ABA estimate.
Texas is in the top five states for the highest employment level for attorneys. However, it is not in the top five states for average annual income for lawyers.
Attorneys working in the District of Columbia earn an average of $192,180 per year, which makes them the highest-paid lawyers in the nation. New York, Delaware, Florida, and Colorado round out the top five, with attorneys in Colorado earning an average of $150,630.
Attorneys in Texas are not far behind the top five. The average salary for an attorney in Texas is $144,110. The state with the lowest average income for lawyers is Montana, with an average annual income for lawyers of $83,030.
What Attorneys Earn the Most Money Each Year?
The practice areas attorneys choose to focus on can have a significant impact on the amount of money the attorney may earn each year. Some areas of practice that earn some of the highest average incomes include:
Personal Injury and Medical Malpractice
According to the ABA, attorneys who practice in these areas can earn $250,000 or more per year. However, if you look at other sources, the average salary for a personal injury lawyer is only $73,000 per year.
Personal injury law covers a wide variety of accidents, injuries, and situations. Therefore, there could be differences in salary based on the various types of personal injury cases an attorney chooses to handle.
Examples of cases that personal injury lawyers handle include, but are not limited to:
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Dog bite injuries
- Slip and fall accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Wrongful death
- Bicycle accidents
- Dangerous drugs
- Maritime injuries
- And many, many more
Corporate lawyers focus on a variety of matters related to corporations and business law. Attorneys for corporations may handle contracts, acquisitions, employment matters, regulatory compliance, tax issues, and business litigation.
The starting salary for a corporate attorney can range from $30,000 to over $100,000, depending on experience and the type of industry. The average salary of a corporate attorney is approximately $165,000.
Patent and Intellectual Property Attorneys
Attorneys who handle patent and IP law help individuals protect sensitive, confidential, and protected materials, ideas, and inventions. Patent and IP law is a specialized area of law. Therefore, attorneys can earn higher annual incomes.
The average income for a patent lawyer is $129,000. IP lawyers average earnings of $131,728 per year.
Bankruptcy Attorneys and Probate Lawyers
Bankruptcy attorneys assist clients in seeking debt relief through the Bankruptcy Court. The ABA reports that the average bankruptcy attorney earns less than $140,000 per year.
The ABA reports that probate lawyers also earn less than $140,000 in general. Probate lawyers assist clients with matters related to probate estates, Conservatorships, wills, trusts, and long-term care planning.
Criminal Defense Attorneys
High-profile criminal defense lawyers can earn millions of dollars each year. However, most criminal defense lawyers earn an average of $115,000 per year. Criminal lawyers assist individuals in preparing defenses and protecting their legal rights after being charged with a crime.
Other Factors that Impact Average Salaries for Attorneys
In addition to their geographical location, other factors that impact a lawyer’s average salary include:
- The area of law the attorneys chooses to practice;
- The number of years the attorney has been in practice.
- The attorney’s record of wins and losses;
- Whether the attorney works in the public or private sector; and,
- If the attorney holds any special certifications or other specialized education or skills; and,
- Whether the attorney works for a law firm or solo practice.
Age, gender, and other factors may also impact the amount of money an attorney may earn each year.
How Do I Choose an Attorney?
If you need legal advice, choose an attorney who focuses his practice in the area of law that applies to your case. For instance, if you were injured in a car accident, you want to search for a personal injury attorney. However, if your car accident involved a commercial truck, try to find an attorney who handles that specific type of personal injury case.
When you meet with an attorney, ask the attorney about his experience, track record, skills, and resources. You want to retain an attorney who has the expertise, abilities, and the necessary resources to handle your case efficiently and successfully.