A career as a personal injury attorney can be highly rewarding. As the name suggests, personal injury attorneys focus on helping people who have been injured due to the negligence (or intentional acts) of another person or entity. The types of cases an attorney could handle in this practice area could include injuries sustained in car accidents, slip and fall accidents, brain injuries, wrongful death or even medical malpractice.
Some personal injury attorneys advertise heavily to connect with potential clients who need their help. Some advertisements talk about the legal services they provide and offer free consultations, no upfront attorney fees, and highlight the large settlements they have obtained for clients in the past. If you have ever seen these ads, they may lead you to wonder how much do personal injury lawyers make?
As a personal injury attorney, you would play an important role in fighting for the rights of your clients and helping them to obtain the fair compensation and closure they deserve for their pain and suffering. If you are passionate about fighting for justice and helping those in need, then a career as a personal injury attorney may be the perfect fit for you.
What is the Job Outlook for a Personal Injury Attorney?
The job outlook for personal injury attorneys is positive. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the legal field is expected to grow by 10%, adding another 80,200 jobs from 2021 to 2031.
In 2022, there are 804,200 attorneys, with 60,670 practicing personal injury law. And this specific area of law has been growing. This growth is attributable to a number of factors, including an increase in the number of people who are injured in accidents and the number of people willing to take legal action as a result of their injuries. In addition, the aging population is also likely to drive demand for personal injury attorneys, as older adults are more susceptible to injuries and more likely to seek legal recourse. As a result, personal injury attorneys can expect to find plenty of opportunities for employment in the coming years.
Likewise, on-demand work is gaining traction in the legal field, with many attorneys turning to remote and freelance work. The availability of services like LAWCLERK helps attorneys find jobs that fit their schedule, no matter where they are located. Services like these are likely to add to the employment opportunities available to personal injury attorneys.
What Skills Are Needed to Be Successful as a Personal Injury Lawyer?
To be successful as a personal injury lawyer, one must have excellent communication skills. This is important for two reasons. First, it is essential for developing a rapport with clients. Second, good communication skills are necessary for effectively presenting a client’s case to a judge and/or jury.
Personal injury attorneys have to be strong advocates. They are the champions for their clients when negotiating with insurance companies and defense attorneys. They need to work closely with expert witnesses to understand the nuances of their clients injuries, care requirements, and the financial needs the client will face with ongoing medical bills.
In addition, personal injury lawyers must be adept at research and writing, as they will often need to prepare briefs and other legal documents. They must also have strong analytical skills in order to build a solid case on behalf of their clients. And, it helps to have a medical background, as many cases involve medical injuries.
Finally, personal injury lawyers need to be good trial attorneys. This means they need to be able to think on their feet and navigate difficult situations in the courtroom and in depositions.
How Much Do Lawyers Make?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual lawyer salary in the United States was $127,990 in 2021, with the top 10% earning more than $208,000. The median hourly wage for lawyers comes in at $61.54, based on a 40-hour workweek, however many lawyers report working more than 40 hours, particularly those in private practice.
Starting salaries for lawyers are typically much lower but can still range into the six figures depending on the employer. For example, according to the National Association for Law Placement (NALP), the starting salary for lawyers at large firms in major cities can be as high as $190,000. However, the average salary for all lawyers is lower than these high-end figures due to the large number of lawyers who work in smaller firms or solo practices. In fact, NALP found that roughly half of attorneys work in smaller firms, where salaries of $60,000-$85,000 are typical.
Of course, being an attorney has many different benefits, both financial and non-financial. For example, lawyers have the satisfaction of knowing that they are fighting for justice and helping to protect the rights of their clients. They also have the opportunity to use their skills to negotiate solutions to complex problems. Moreover, lawyers typically work in an intellectually stimulating environment and have the chance to meet interesting people from all walks of life. So, while compensation is important, it is certainly not the only benefit of being an attorney.
What Factors Affect an Attorney’s Salary?
As with most professions, an attorney’s salary is affected by multiple factors. One is experience; newer lawyers tend to earn less than those who have been practicing law for many years.
For success in the personal injury field, obtaining a large settlement on a personal injury lawsuit early in your career can help boost your reputation. Being able to market a big win can help attract more clients and build your book of business.
Another factor is education; attorneys with law degrees from prestigious schools tend to earn more than those from less well-known institutions. This is partially due to the fact that many high-profile positions (such as a Supreme Court clerkship) are much more difficult to obtain without a degree from an elite law school.
Firm size is also a factor as large firms can often afford to pay higher salaries than small firms. Along those same lines is geographic location – another factor affecting attorney salaries. Attorneys in large metropolitan areas with populations over 1 million tend to make more than attorneys in smaller or more rural areas. (Above the Law Solo and Small Firm Compensation Report, 2022). However, large cities often have a higher cost of living as well.
Finally, the industry and clientele of a firm also affects salaries. Most law school graduates that start out in the public sector can expect to earn somewhere between $50,000 and $60,000, while those in the private sector tend to start out in the $70,000-$100,000 range. Likewise, those that work at firms serving large corporations and wealthy clients can afford to pay higher salaries than firms that serve lower-income clients.
Which Types of Lawyers Make the Most Money?
In addition to the factors listed above, practice area also matters. Public defenders and legal aid attorneys tend to make the least, as these lawyers often work in the public sector and for small nonprofits. On the other end of the spectrum are corporate lawyers, intellectual property lawyers, and medical malpractice lawyers – earning a median salary of $174,000, $143,987, and $130,800, respectively.
Of course there are wide variations in salary based on factors like firm size, geographic location, and years of experience. On average, the highest paid attorneys graduated law school in the 1990s, meaning they have at least two decades of experience under their belts. (Above the Law Solo and Small Firm Compensation Report, 2022).
How Much Do Personal Injury Attorneys Make?
Now for the million dollar question: How much do personal injury attorneys make?
The 2022 Above the Law Solo and Small Firm Compensation Report found that salaries in personal injury law can range from $50,000 for associates to $500,000+ for experienced partners. The majority of associates surveyed earned between $100,000 and $149,000 while the largest segment of partners earned over $500,000 annually. This variance is likely due to the fact that partners usually have more experience and are responsible for bringing in new clients and business.
The average salary for personal injury attorneys is $85,321, with an average salary range that typically falls between $72,735 and $98,696. Those in the bottom 10% tend to earn an average of $61,276, while those at the top earn more than $110,873. Of course, those that focus on medical malpractice tend to be some of the highest paid attorneys among all practice areas.
A nuance to the personal injury field is that they typically do not bill for their services on an hourly rate. These attorneys typically enter into a contingency fee agreement with clients so that the attorney’s compensation is dependent on the outcome of the case.
Working on a contingency fee basis means that the law firm will receive a percentage of the settlement or verdict if they win the case. The average contingency fee arrangement is 33%, but it can range from 20-40%. This means income can vary greatly from one case to the next.
The firm absorbs the filing fees and legal fees (depending on local court rules) while the case is pending. If they do not prevail on the personal injury claim, the attorney may lose money. There is inherent risk to this type of business structure as the compensation of the firm and the attorney will be based on whether they can recover a personal injury settlement.
Where Do Personal Injury Attorneys Make the Most Money?
According to ZipRecruiter, personal injury attorneys make the most in Massachusetts, Washington, New York, Maryland, and Virginia, while California, Florida, and Texas have the highest concentration of personal injury lawyers. The high concentration of personal injury attorneys is likely due to the fact that these states have high populations. In addition, some of these states have laws that favor plaintiffs in personal injury cases. For example, California has a pure comparative negligence rule, meaning plaintiffs can recover damages even if they are partially to blame for an accident. As a result, personal injury attorneys in these states may have a higher success rate.
LAWCLERK Can Help Personal Injury Attorneys Find Work & Grow Their Practice
If you are a personal injury lawyer looking for work or ways to grow your firm, LAWCLERK can help. LAWCLERK is an online legal exchange that connects hiring attorneys with remote associates and freelance lawyers. For remote associates, LAWCLERK can be a great way to find work that fits your schedule and lifestyle.
For personal injury law firms, LAWCLERK can be used to find associates with expertise in specific areas of personal injury law, such as medical malpractice or product liability. This can help you take on more cases and increase billable hours without adding to your workload. Whether you’re looking for ways to grow your law firm or simply want more flexibility in your work, LAWCLERK can help you connect with other attorneys.