Are you wondering about which legal areas of expertise offer the most money? Maybe you are a law student who wants to figure out which area you should specialize in, or maybe you already have a legal career and are thinking of switching to a higher-paying alternative with the industry. Whichever the case, it is definitely true that not all legal specializations get paid the same.
Now you might be thinking that a judge commands more compensation than other legal professionals as they happen to have the highest position in the courtroom. If that is your opinion, you would be wrong. Most of the top salaries within the legal industry belong to lawyers. Top lawyers can command a salary of $200,00 or more on average.
Which Kind Of Lawyers Make The Most Money
It is interesting to note that lawyer compensation and salaries range anywhere between $50,000 and $200,000 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor.
What is more, the highest paid lawyers tend to come from big law firms and the lowest paid ones are usually solo practitioners. So, if you are planning on becoming a lawyer and income is a major factor in your decision, it is advisable to work for a big to medium-sized law firm instead of venturing out on your own.
While the average salary, according to Payscale.com data, the average salary for all lawyers was $75,803.
It should be noted that salary averages tend to change from year-to-year and from source-to-source. The below average lawyer salaries were taken from various sources and may differ slightly from other yearly salary statistics.
Image Courtesy of Rosen & Spear
Medical law covers a wide variety of areas such as medical malpractice, healthcare law, and personal injury. Medical lawyers tend to work at both hospitals and healthcare facilities but can also operate on both sides of the law defending healthcare institutions and individuals who wish to sue such institutions.
Medical lawyers garner the number two position here but it was a close one when it came to the number two spot as average salaries for industries often vary slightly from source to source.
The medical field provides lawyers with the highest compensation potential. Lawyers working in healthcare earn an average annual salary of $130,880 but those working in specialty hospitals can earn even more.
Intellectual Property (IP) Lawyer
Image Courtesy of PDKGS
The number two median salary among all lawyers belongs to IP lawyers. Copyright law requires a great deal of understanding, creativity, and relevance when it comes to intellectual property. These skills must be applied throughout various industries, so many IP lawyers also specialize in a particular one and only handle cases within their area of expertise.
Protecting intellectual property is of key importance for many top corporations which is why this particular group of lawyers get so much money.
The average salary for IP lawyers is $205,000 .
Image Courtesy of Fletcher Patents
Coming at number three is patent lawyers. This particular specialization has to know the ins and outs of many industries in order to analyze if a particular invention is eligible for a patent or not, therefore they often require further education in other areas such as biology, marketing, and engineering. This extra knowledge often equates to extra money for patent lawyers.
Patent lawyers take the number three spot when it comes to lawyer salaries with a median salary of $148,000.
Real Estate Lawyer
Image Courtesy of Richard Cayne
The top three spots on this list were taken by the intellectual and medical industries. The fourth spot belongs to real estate.
Real estate transactions often times require very complex legal documents and so those practicing real estate law must use strong analytical skills to create, review, and revise real these legal papers.
While most real estate issues do not involve court time, real estate lawyers are capable of defending their clients in courtrooms.
The average salary for real estate lawyers is $118,000 but real estate attorneys may make more or less depending on location and experience.
Injury & Accident Lawyer
Image courtesy of Emmanuel, Sheppard & Condon
Now, many of the “top paid” lawyer lists do not include injury and accident lawyers in their top five but considering that technically they are part of the medical lawyers’ group, they really deserve a spot here.
Personal injury and accident attorneys handle cases where one party has received either physical or psychological harm or damage due to another party’s negligence. They often have multiple tasks to perform during a case some of which include interviewing clients, researching legal issues pertaining to the case, and evaluating the case altogether.
The mean salary for personal and accident lawyers is $73,000. However, many personal injury attorneys work in the government sector where they receive significantly less pay than those working in big law firms, pulling the average down significantly.
As most personal injury and accident attorneys earn a large portion of their income through contingency fees, the median salary number is a bit misleading. Many big-name personal injury lawyers make in the high 6-figure and some even 7-figure amount each year—another reason why this specialty gets a spot on our top five list.
There are many reasons to enter a legal career but perhaps the most common ones include helping others, prestige, recognition, opportunity to defend the law, contribution to society, acquiring diverse skill sets, and being challenged intellectually. Maybe taking an aptitude test or an employment assessment will tell you which kind of lawyer you should become.
The potential to earn a high-income is yet another important reason to enter the field of law, and no other job in the legal environment has as much potential to earn a high salary with many options to choose from than that of being a lawyer.
While income should never be the sole reason you decide to become an attorney, it is nice to receive adequate compensation for your skills and hard work.