Joe Jamail Is Richest Practicing Lawyer, But Not the Richest Law Grad

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Joe Jamail
Photo by Scott Pasfield

Houston litigator Joe Jamail is 269th on the Forbes 400 list, but he’s No. 1 in another category. With a net worth of $1.5 billion, he’s the nation’s richest practicing lawyer.

The 84-year-old trial lawyer was his usual blustery self when Forbes interviewed him about his latest win on behalf of the Museum of Fine Arts in a will contest. “The jurors came back in 37 minutes,” Jamail told the magazine. “A TV reporter asked me, ‘How come they took so long?’ I said they had to unwrap their goddamn sandwiches.”

The American Lawyer notes Jamail’s ranking and did a little more digging. According to its “painstaking analysis,” 37 Americans on the Forbes 400 have law degrees, although most accumulated their fortunes outside of law practice. Jamail, it turns out, is the nation’s 24th richest law grad.

Other lawyers on the list include five members of the Pritzker family, including one who is No. 252 on the list and another who is tied with Jamail; Wal-Mart heir S. Robson Walton, who is No. 9 on the list; former Enron president Richard Kinder, who is No. 51; and investor Samuel Zell, who is No. 60. The American Lawyer’s full list of America’s 37 richest law grads is available here.

Joe Jamail was featured in the ABA Journal’s March 2009 Lions of the Trial Bar cover story featuring seven top litigators over age 70.

Additional coverage:

TaxProf Blog: “Forbes 400 Law School Rankings”

Updated at 12:25 p.m. to include link to ABA Journal feature. Updated on Sept. 30 to add link to TaxProf Blog.

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