Highest Paid Types of Lawyers: Must Read

A common misconception among non-lawyers is that all lawyers are rich. Many lawyers dedicate their careers to public service work or non-profit advocacy. They earn reasonable salaries. But the practice of law can be a lucrative career, particularly for ambitious specialists.

The list of the highest-paid types of lawyers features legal specialists. Specialists focus their practice on a single type of case, like workers’ compensation, medical malpractice or product liability.

The longer a lawyer practices in a single practice area, the more they learn about the types of cases. They become familiar with court rules and legal exceptions. Specialty experience is valuable to many clients.

Of course, these are only examples. Some kinds of lawyers not listed here may earn handsome salaries. In 2019, the highest-earning 10% of lawyers earned $208,000 or more. 

So which types of lawyers earn the most cash?

Corporate Lawyers

Corporate lawyers work for corporations. A lawyer that represents business interests may be referred to as a corporate lawyer. 

Corporate lawyers specialize in the life cycle of businesses: business formations, mergers, and dissolutions. They also handle employment contracts and business disputes. 

Many employment lawyers do not go to court. Instead, they draft and review contracts. They advise the business directors about the legal consequences of business operations. They may develop business policies that follow federal and state regulations. 

Tax Attorneys

Taxes can be complicated for average-earning taxpayers. You may trust a CPA to do your taxes if you have to deal with things like an IRA or qualifying child care expenses.

Tax attorneys develop strategies to get favorable tax treatment for their clients’ income and assets. For business clients, that could include unique operating agreements that govern disbursements. Tax attorneys also help clients find tax benefits for which they might qualify under the law. 

Individuals may need tax attorneys, too. When the IRS sends a letter, the addressee should talk to a tax attorney about their legal rights. A tax attorney may be able to negotiate with the IRS on your behalf. 

Of course, the IRS employs tax lawyers, too. Government lawyers develop deep and broad expertise in their area of practice. After leaving government employment, they can earn higher fees based on their experience and knowledge. 

Personal Injury Lawyers

Personal injury lawyers are most well known for their big billboards and catchy commercials. What people don’t know about personal injury lawyers is: they help innocent people who have been hurt through no fault of their own. 

Personal injury lawyers also represent people who contributed to their injury. In many states, like Florida, the law allows contributing accident victims to seek compensation for their injuries, too. 

If you have been in a car accident, you may need a personal injury attorney. When someone has been hurt at work, they might use a personal injury lawyer. After a slip-and-fall accident or any other injury for which another person is at-fault, that’s when you need a personal injury attorney. 

Many personal injury attorneys offer free consultations and get paid only contingency fees. A contingency fee is one that the attorney only earns if they recover a money judgment for their client. If you’ve been hurt, a personal injury attorney may work on your behalf without any money upfront. 

Bankruptcy Lawyers

If you’re experiencing prolonged financial hardship and are unable to pay your debts, you should contact a bankruptcy lawyer. Bankruptcy lawyers negotiate compromises between creditors and debtors. For example, when the creditor takes less than the full amount owed in exchange for a big one-time payment from a debtor in default. 

Companies, unfortunately, sometimes experience financial devastation, too. Bankruptcy lawyers use their expertise to protect their clients and limit the clients’ losses. Bankruptcy attorneys structure payment plans that please the creditors. 

Specialty bankruptcy courts hear bankruptcy cases. The bankruptcy courts use attorneys to support the judges who make decisions in bankruptcy cases.

Medical Malpractice Lawyers

When a doctor or other qualified medical professional causes harm to a patient through acts that did not meet the standard of care of a reasonable professional in their role, they can be liable for medical malpractice. This is a special kind of personal injury case because the doctor-patient relationship is a special kind of association. 

Because a doctor owes a patient a duty of care, as a result of the doctor’s education and training, the doctor is obligated to maintain a certain standard of behavior. If a doctor breaches their duty of care, their employing hospital can be liable, too. 

Since doctors are responsible for our lives, the consequences of their mistakes are costly. In medical malpractice and wrongful death cases, the amount in dispute can be significant. Damages often include the patient’s lost future wages and future medical expenses, which can total millions over their lifetime. When the stakes are high for doctors and hospitals, their lawyers’ skills are extremely valuable.