Lawyer Pay

Average earnings for solo and small-firm lawyers was nearly $200K last year, report says

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Sixty-eight percent of solo and small-firm lawyers believe they are fairly compensated for their work, according to an online survey by the Martindale Legal Marketing Network.

Solo and small-firm lawyers made an average of $198,000 last year, while their median earnings were $140,000, according to a press release. More than 6,900 full-time lawyers participated in the survey.

Seventy-three percent of the solo and small-firm lawyers—defined as those with 21 or fewer lawyers—said that, if they had it to do it all over again, they would choose law as a career.

The highest-earning lawyers identified intellectual property as their primary practice area. They made an average of $240,000 in 2017. They were followed by personal injury lawyers ($237,000); employment lawyers ($225,000); workers compensation lawyers ($219,000); and business lawyers ($217,000).

Lawyers who primarily provided legal services to businesses earned more money on average than lawyers who primarily provided legal services to consumers.

Twenty-seven percent of the responding lawyers said their earnings had increased by up to 10 percent over the prior year, while 18 percent said their earnings had increased by more than 10 percent.

The survey found that an earnings gender-gap still exists. Female lawyers received 38 percent less income in 2017 than male lawyers, though some of the disparity may have been due to fewer years of practice reported by female lawyers. Seventy percent of the male lawyers believed they were fairly compensated, while only 61 percent of the female lawyers felt that way.

Only 6 percent of the lawyers said compensation was the most rewarding part of their jobs. Thirty-four percent said the most rewarding aspect of their jobs was “gratitude/relationships with clients.” Thirty-three percent said the most rewarding part was being very good at resolving legal issues.

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