What Type of Lawyer Makes the Most Money: 15 Best Paid

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by Erin Schollaert

Updated

Lawyers are famous for their high pay and the amount of arguing they have to do in court: but how much do they really make?

If you’re curious about what type of lawyer makes the most money, either because you’re considering it as a career path or you’re just curious, you’re not alone!

This is an expensive job to grab a degree for: and many want to be sure they’re getting a job that will be worth that investment.

Here’s the answer to what type of attorney makes the most money: and how much work goes into earning that salary.

15. Civil Rights Lawyers

civil-rights

Average yearly salary: $82,382 (ZipRecruiter)

Although this is the lowest on this list of types of lawyers and salaries: civil rights lawyers still make twice as much as the average American worker.

In this role, attorneys work as advocates for individuals whose rights have been violated. They’re experts in the constitution and can be involved in both civil and criminal trials.

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Working at a small company as a civil rights lawyer could be a great way to start your career with meaning.

14. Family and Divorce Lawyers

Average yearly salary: $83,464 (Salary.com)

Family lawyers focus on representing clients in a divorce, and whatever issues may arise related to that divorce, like the division of marital property, child custody and support, and alimony.

They have to be able to handle how sensitive this topic can be while also helping draft prenuptial and postnuptial agreements while litigating related matters.

Interning with a family lawyer is an efficient way to learn important skills and make money in law school.

Tactics for Success

  • Although empathy is important: it pays off to be as objective as possible in this role since it’s possibly breaking up a family. This can be hard for some people; this might not be a good fit if that includes you.
  • You have to be creative and convincing in this role since mediation may be hard to figure out, but it’s important to complete a case.

13. Employment Lawyer

Average yearly salary: $91,385 (ZipRecruiter)

Employment lawyers draft and prepare claims, employment contracts, and other legal documentation for their clients.

They also provide legal advice and help clients negotiate better pay, more time off, or severance packages when necessary. If clients are having trouble finding a job, these tips could help.

The main goal in this position as a lawyer is to help your clients get the ideal job, pay, and time off that they want without sacrificing their rights as an employee.

12. Criminal Defense Lawyers

jail

Average yearly salary: $92,310 (Salary.com)

Possibly the most famous type of lawyer, criminal defense attorneys research and investigate the case and facts against their clients, and try to negotiate deals with the prosecutors.

These deals can be anything from reduced bail to reduced charges and sentences.

Their main goal is to help their clients come out innocent on the other side, but if that’s not possible, they’re there to ensure their client serves the least amount of time possible.

Trends on the Rise

This role is extremely receptive to women, with over 53% of graduates being women for the last six years. This type of lawyer is common, with over 243,378 employed in the USA, but the market is still growing and wanting more.

11. Bankruptcy Lawyers

Average yearly salary: $98,271 (Glassdoor)

The main focus of a bankruptcy lawyer is to help clients through their court proceedings so they can eliminate or reduce debt or so they can proceed forward with the steps necessary for filing bankruptcy.

This type of lawyer’s clients may either be an individual or a corporation, depending on where they work, their client history, and the success of their prior cases.

Some bounce between the two types of entities, but most stick with one since there are different laws and bits of information to know.

An economics degree is also beneficial when dealing with this financial specialty.

10. Tax Attorney

Average yearly salary: $100,806 (Salary.com)

Tax attorneys are lawyers who specialize in tax law. In this specialty, they help their clients arrange finances to optimize their tax citations, work according to tax rules, and handle any disputes with tax agencies like the IRS.

Many have specialties within tax law, including real estate, international, or business taxes.

9. Corporate Lawyer

business

Average yearly salary: $105,237 (Salary.com)

Corporate lawyers and attorneys work on many legal issues tied to corporate business practices. This means handling the legal and financial functions for their clients.

This could mean being in charge of corporate taxes or appraising and overseeing mergers and acquisitions. This all depends on which businesses they work with and what other education they’ve had.

Tactics for Success

  • Being extremely skilled and fast at research is the most important role of this job; you must be able to find information from a reputable source quickly if you don’t know the info off-hand.
  • Negotiating is vital in this position; you must be highly proficient at getting what your client wants or needs to succeed in this role.

8. Patent Lawyer

Average yearly salary: $109,763 (ZipRecruiter)

Patent lawyers are experts in filing and preparing patent applications and then representing their clients in court for patent-related cases like licensing re-examination and infringement.

They spend most of their time alone, crafting drafts, doing filing work, and prosecuting patents and trademarks for their clients.

They may also assist litigators and transactional lawyers as part of their job since they’re trained to excel at all of these tasks.

Patent lawyers may even find themselves helping artists make money by licensing their art on stock sites.

7. Personal Injury Lawyers

Average yearly salary: $112,019 (Glassdoor)

The main role of a personal injury lawyer is to guide their clients through getting them the money and help they need to ensure they can fully heal.

This means deciding how much is owed in damages, helping them seek a lawsuit, aiding clients who request help knowing whether or not to accept a settlement, and listening to their client as they go through what might be the most difficult moment in their life.

A personal injury lawsuit is a lot to take on, and they’re prepared to guide each of their clients through it.

Trends on the Rise

The size of the personal injury attorney market has grown faster than the growth in population over the last few years because of massive injuries and illnesses. This market is just short of $40 billion and is expected to continue to grow in the next five to ten years.

6. Immigration Lawyer

Average yearly salary: $115,820 (Comparably)

The average immigration lawyer represents businesses and individual clients before the Board of Immigration Appeals, the USCIS, immigration courts, and federal circuit courts.

They cover topics like emigration, immigration, green cards, visas, adjustments of statuses, political asylum, and anything else that might make it so that a client can stay within the USA.

This is a high-stakes job and is one of the most stressful on this list.

5. Estate Planning Lawyers

Average yearly salary: $125,970 (ZipRecruiter)

Also known as probate or estate law attorneys, estate planning attorneys let you know how much work your estate plan requires: and help you develop a thorough plan to achieve it.

They can help strengthen almost any estate plan.

Still, they do best handling estates if you: have out of state property or assets, have foreign property or assets, if you want to leave a legacy, if you’re going to leave items to someone who isn’t a legal citizen if you have a blended family if you want to disinherit your immediate family or dozens of other large problems.

4. Healthcare Lawyers

doctor

Average yearly salary: $147,812 (ZipRecruiter)

Healthcare lawyers are specialized attorneys that know health law and what the ramifications of breaking it are.

These attorneys work with doctors, insurance providers, hospitals, and other medical facilities to ensure that nobody’s legal rights are abused.

They also advise their clients on their obligations and what actions might hurt them in court. This field has stakes in federal, state, and local law.

3. Real Estate Lawyers

Average yearly salary: $151,344 (Salary.com)

Real estate attorneys work to ensure the legal transfer of property from sellers to buyers.

They handle tasks like preparing and reviewing documents and ensure that the title is clear so that the transfer can commence.

Their duties differ depending on whether they’re hired by a seller or a buyer, what the state laws ask for, and what is specifically needed for each purchase to go over smoothly.

2. Trial Attorney

Average yearly salary: $162,000 (Zippia)

Trial attorneys specialize in building the defense of a case and taking part in the trial.

They spend their time not only in court, arguing motions, and selecting jurors for jury trials but also outside of the courtroom, building the best possible situation for the client that hired them.

1. IP Attorneys

Average yearly salary: $180,302 (Salary.com)

IP attorneys are the highest-paid because of the amount of work that has to go into every single step of their job and the amount of factual knowledge they have to know to win their court cases.

IP lawyers consult their clients and advise them on patents and licenses while also interpreting laws and regulations, conducting research, and communicating with their clients and the court.

Wrapping Up

Whether you’re new to law and want to set up a good career path, or you’re hoping to make a change in what type of law you work in: any of these options are great if you want to make a lot of money.

So consider the extra education that goes into specializing as an IP attorney or an estate planning lawyer, and make the best career choice that suits you!

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About the Author

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Erin is a business teacher and mother of three. When she’s not in the classroom or fulfilling her obligations as an A+ hockey and lacrosse mom, she’s working on her latest article.