Helping people navigate the criminal and justice systems in the United States can be extremely rewarding. If you’re considering becoming a lawyer, it’s interesting to discover which lawyers are lawyers with the highest salary. Pay rates vary across the country and differ based on time on the job, bonuses the firm might pay, and whether, as a lawyer, you work in the government sector. According to data put forth by the United States Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the median wage for all lawyers is around 126k per year.
Criminal Defense Lawyers Help the Accused
Criminal defense attorneys make anywhere from 35k-159k per year. That’s a wide range. Suppose a criminal lawyer works for the state or county as a public defender. In that case, the lawyer’s salary will be towards the lower end of this scale, especially in rural or economically depressed areas.
Any lawyer who defends the accused, including DUI attorneys, is considered a criminal defense lawyer. These groups of attorneys are considered one of the types of lawyers with the highest salary.
The criminal justice system is a complicated and often confusing process. If you’re involved in a criminal case, you ideally want to be represented by a lawyer. Criminal defense attorneys understand that being thrown into a courtroom after being accused of or charged with doing something heinous can turn a person’s life upside down.
Sometimes the person is guilty. In those cases, the criminal defense lawyer’s job is to shield the person somewhat from the full wrath of the court if that person has a family. They also make sure that the person’s trial is fair, balanced, and done according to the rules. In cases where the person is innocent, the defense attorney works tirelessly to make sure every shred of evidence that can be admitted is. In both situations, the arguments are laid out carefully for their client and are to the best of their ability.
If you want to become a criminal defense attorney, you’ll spend hours going over case law for the area of law you want to defend. You’ll learn investigative skills and how to think outside of the box to help your client.
Worker Compensation Lawyers
Another group of lawyers with the highest salary are worker compensation lawyers. These attorneys help people with workers’ compensation claims in their state. These attorneys can make between 35k-124k yearly.
When a person suffers pain and medical bills from a collision or a slip-and-fall at the workplace, the place of employment is responsible for paying out some or all of the costs of the person’s recovery. To do this, a person has to file a workers’ compensation claim with an employer, an insurance company, their union, and the state. Later in the examination process, a person may answer open-ended questions inaccurately or with just enough difference from the last time they gave similar information to be considered to be ‘inconsistent’ in their answers. These claims are often denied over technicalities due to inaccuracies found in paperwork or how statements are written when a person fills them out and submits them on their own.
Insurance companies and employers look to pay as little as possible when processing these claims. Having a work injury lawyer helps a person navigate all paperwork correctly, answer all questions positively or neutrally, and increases their chances of receiving a fair payout.
If you want to be a workers’ compensation attorney, you’ll study the labor laws, OSHA standards, and other things that affect employees. If protecting people from employer-related retaliation after an on-the-job injury via the law appeals to you, becoming this type of attorney might be the best fit for you.
Corporate Lawyers Help Companies
Corporate lawyers are another group of lawyers with the highest salary on average. They can make anywhere between 92k-115k yearly. These lawyers work for companies, helping them create policies and procedures that will decrease liability for workers’ compensation claims when an employee or their family is suing the employer.
They also work to reduce the impact of liability towards a company during other lawsuits. The success of this depends on the carefully written contracts and terms and agreements that the lawyers would have drawn up ahead of time on behalf of the company. Corporate lawyers review all requests for announcements, press releases, proposed contracts by third parties, and represent the company during litigation proceedings or mediation.
Business law lawyers also fall into the category. These attorneys help companies of various sizes to navigate contracts, finance, and business transactions. It includes counseling someone who is starting a new business and filling out and creating state filings. Later, these same lawyers will help make fair business arrangements with their business partners, vendors, and customers.
When a partner wants to sever their legal relationship with the company or if there are any disputes when a partner wants to leave, the business law lawyer will help handle the situation to protect both parties and make sure the settlement is fair for everyone. If a business owner or partners decide to rebrand their company or dissolve it altogether, the business law lawyer will make sure this is handled correctly.
If you want to become a corporate business law attorney, you’ll have to have excellent communication skills and think quickly under pressure. You’ll also need tenacity because you will experience challenges at times when investors don’t agree on terms, or one party doesn’t do what they previously agreed to.
Administrative attorneys help the government create and implement laws, rules, and regulations. These lawyers can make anywhere from 85k-113k annually, placing them in the ranks of lawyers with the highest salary.
These lawyers will work first at a local county level or perhaps an internship at the state level. Many lawyers going this route will help clerk for the judges in their districts before moving on to being in charge of caseloads independently. They might also work for other organizations that help create laws.
Administrative lawyers are tasked with creating new policies and following existing ones. They work to make sure all submissions made to the government are valid, accurate, and in compliance with federal or state law. They will also write reports on testing materials for companies willing to pay them for their services. People who are attracted to law and who feel they can make a difference in balancing and forming new policies and regulations at a local and state level will enjoy this type of work.
Personal Injury Lawyers
Personal injury lawyers are representatives of the courts that help people who have been injured in an accident and need compensation. Auto accident lawyers, for example, can make between 64k-95k yearly, falling squarely in with the other lawyers with the highest salary. This number can fluctuate based on the firm’s size and how many cases the lawyer can take.
Personal injury cases can be incredibly emotional and sensitive for both the client and the lawyer, as some of these accidents come with fatalities. When a person dies in an auto accident, for example, or dies due to a caretaker’s negligence or even dies as part of an altercation, these cases move from a personal injury claim to a wrongful death claim. Some personal injury lawyers handle both, but not all.
Sometimes, personal injury attorneys will work on a contingency fee basis, which means they won’t get paid unless their client wins or there is a fair settlement in the case. All personal injury lawyers help clients work with the insurance company or deal with them on their behalf. This position also requires investigative work and creative, out-of-the-box thinking to obtain evidence that might influence the outcome of a case.
Probate lawyers help people go through the probate process, which is a legal way to distribute assets and property after an individual dies. These lawyers can make between 75k-94k yearly, placing them with the other lawyers with the highest salary.
When someone passes away, their assets and property go into a new legal entity called an estate. An executor or personal representative manages those assets until they’re distributed as laid out by the deceased’s will.
Statute laws govern this distribution, whether the estate is big or small. If it’s not laid out in the will, these lawyers look at how much property the person owned, where they lived, and what state laws apply.
It often involves working alongside other lawyers during this process to make sure all wills are handled properly so that probate goes smoothly for everyone involved. People most attracted to this type of work have a particular passion for helping families deal with after-death care compassionately and fairly to help ease hurts within a family.
Bankruptcy lawyers help members of the community who need financial assistance or a fresh start. They can make anywhere from 49k-91k annually, placing them in the lower ranges of the lawyers with the highest salary.
Financial issues happen in most people’s lives at some point. These lawyers help clients through the process of either filing for bankruptcy themselves or defending clients who have been negatively affected by the bankruptcy of a spouse in community property states. While most lawyers require an upfront fee either with a certified check from the bank or in the form of money orders, some attorneys allow payment plans. Once the fee is complete, the lawyer will begin the process and have the creditors served.
Bankruptcy lawyers help with all types of bankruptcies, including Chapter 7, Chapter 9, Chapter 11, and Chapter 13. Some bankruptcies are for individuals, others for companies, and others for counties, municipal governments, townships, or school districts.
People who are drawn to becoming a bankruptcy lawyer either have extreme compassion for people who have no hope of paying back their consumer, credit card, mortgage, or vehicle debt, or they feel little satisfaction in having debt discharged and forcing creditors to wipe the debt clean. Sometimes, bankruptcy attorneys feel a little bit of both.
An estate lawyer, also called a will and trust lawyer, works one-on-one with clients to create legally binding wills and trusts. Estate lawyers can make somewhere between 62k-77k annually. Whether this salary belongs in the category of lawyers with the highest salary is debatable. The pay can fluctuate based on the size of the firm and how many cases the lawyer can handle.
As a probate lawyer, they work closely with an executor or personal representative to ensure the will is detailed enough that there isn’t confusion when the estate is distributed accordingly after death. Most of the payments they receive come as a percentage of the total value of the estate.
Some people feel that by making a will themselves, they may have covered all of their bases. However, it’s been proven repeatedly that if a will is challenged based on specific state requirements, payouts and distribution of assets can be changed. This reality is incredibly painful and challenging for the family who was left behind.
To become an estate lawyer, individuals must have a particular interest in the law, especially the laws that govern wills and trusts. They should be well-spoken, ethical, and kind with an ability to stay calm under pressure.
People attracted to this type of law would enjoy being an estate attorney if they desire to steer families away from difficult situations during one of the most trying times in their lives. These attorneys can be sensitive and compassionate with grieving families and be assertive and aggressive in court when necessary.
Lawyers are always in demand, but the salary may vary depending on location. If you’re considering becoming a lawyer and want to know which lawyers offer the highest salaries, take some time to do your research. If you’re going to be part of a group of lawyers with the highest salary, it will take hard work and dedication on your part. In the end, if it’s something you’re passionate about, it’s worth it.