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What Type of Lawyer Makes the Most Money?

There is a significant disparity in the amount of money different attorneys make. Attorneys choose to specialize in particular areas of law, and each specialty represents a different earning potential.
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C.L. Mike Schmidt Published by C.L. Mike Schmidt
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Which Type of Law Has the Highest Paid Lawyers?

Attorneys who choose to practice in areas of procedural law that require specialized knowledge can earn more than attorneys who practice in other areas of law. However, a specific area of law does not guarantee that an attorney will earn more than lawyers working in areas that are in high demand. Below are descriptions of some areas of highest paid law and how much an attorney might earn if they choose to practice in that area of law.

1. Corporate Law

The primary role of a corporate lawyer in a large law firm is to ensure the legality of company transactions. In most cases, attorneys’ salaries with big law firms will start somewhere between $30,000 and $100,000 a year, depending on the size, location and financial condition of the employer.

The best graduates of top law schools can expect much higher salaries and legal careers right after they graduate if they have the right skill set and have performed well during their internships. The Forbes website lists several first rate programs, such as Columbia Law School, whose graduates can expect an average starting salary of $165,000.

2. Criminal Law

Criminal defense lawyers represent individuals under investigation for a crime or who have been arrested for a crime. There is room for a huge difference in salaries depending on the type of criminal cases the attorney handles. The salary trajectory based on the type of criminal lawyer and years of experience is:

Public prosecutor

  • Entry-level criminal lawyers with less than five years of experience: $57,000
  • 5-10 years: $66,000
  • 10-20 years: $100,000
  • 20+ years: $131,000

Public defender

  • Entry-level with less than five years of experience: $52,000
  • 5-10 years: $69,000
  • 10-20 years: $74,000
  • 20+ years: $94,000

Criminal defense attorney – private firm

  • Entry-level with less than five years of experience: $80,000
  • 5-10 years: $96,000
  • 10+ years: $112,000

3. Bankruptcy Law

Attorneys who handle bankruptcy matters assist individuals and companies in filing for bankruptcy relief. They may also work with creditors to file claims in bankruptcy cases.

The salaries of Bankruptcy Lawyers in the US range from $13,985 to $377,698, with a median salary of $68,292 . The middle 57% of Bankruptcy Lawyers make between $68,292 and $171,420, with the top 86% making $377,698.

4. Family Law

Family law is another area of law that is in high demand. It covers all matters related to divorce, including custody, property division, and domestic support. Family law also includes martial agreements and paternity questions.

As of August 2021, the average Family Law Attorney salary is $85,716, but the range typically falls between $73,078 and $99,149. Salary ranges can vary widely depending on the city and many other important factors, including education, certifications, additional skills, the number of years you have spent in your profession.

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5. Immigration Law

When it comes to types of private practice lawyers that make the most compensation, immigration lawyers round up the bottom of the list, according to labor statistics. Immigration lawyers are people who work in the field of helping citizens obtain legal documentation of their current status in the United States. On average, a salary for an immigration lawyer rests around $62,000 a year.

6. Civil Rights Lawyer

A person that focuses on cases that revolve around things like equality, social freedom, human rights, and discrimination are civil rights lawyers. Often, they handle cases where citizens are put under scrutiny for things they cannot control—the color of their skin, sexual orientation, etc.

These lawyers enforce the freedoms of these people, and their right to exist as who they are. Where they land on the types of lawyers that make the most money is just above immigration lawyers. The highest paid civil rights lawyers can expect an average salary of around $69,000 a year.

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7. Personal Injury Lawyer

How much money personal injury lawyers made in the United States during 2019 was $122,960 per year, according to the American Bar Association.

Personal injury attorneys have a positive job outlook, but the future growth in wages is about the same as other comparable industries. Therefore, a personal injury lawyer can expect to earn somewhere between the low end of the average salary for attorneys ($59,670) to the high end of the average salary ($208,000) over the next decade.

Salaries for Other Types of Lawyers

  • Tax Attorneys / Tax Lawyers – The average salary for Tax Lawyers with extensive tax laws knowledge is $88,863 an year.
  • IP Lawyers, IP Attorneys – The average Intellectual Property Attorney salary is $174,562 as of August 27, 2021, but the range for intellectual property lawyers typically falls between $158,390 and $187,879.
  • Medical Lawyers – Salaries as high as $155,331 and as low as $20,154, the majority of Medical Lawyer salaries currently range between $31,950 (25th percentile) to $83,563 (75th percentile) with top earners (90th percentile) making $119,938 annually.
  • Real Estate Lawyers – The average Real Estate Attorney salary in the United States is $152,863 as of August 27, 2021, but the range typically falls between $133,300 and $169,371, including insurance settlements.
  • Family Lawyers – Entry-level Family Lawyers with less than 1-year of experience in child custody can expect to earn an average total compensation (includes tips, bonus, and overtime pay) of $58,959. An early career Family Lawyer salary with 1-4 years of experience earns an average total compensation of $71,305

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