Estate planning attorneys play a crucial role in helping individuals and families plan for their future by creating legally binding documents that outline how assets will be distributed to beneficiaries after death and who will be responsible for managing those assets. These estate planning documents can include wills, living trusts, and powers of attorney, among others.
Many people may not realize that estate planning is not only about death and succession planning. Estate planning is also about incapacity planning if you encounter health care challenges during life. This is done via legal documents such as health care directives, living wills,
Experienced estate planning attorneys also help clients navigate complex tax laws, ensure their wishes are carried out, and minimize the potential for disputes among family members in probate court. With the legal advice of an estate planning attorney, individuals and families can feel secure knowing that their assets and loved ones will be taken care of in the event of their passing.
In this article, we will discuss the earning potential of estate planning attorneys and the various factors that can impact their average salary.
Factors That Affect Earnings
The location of an attorney can have a significant impact on their earning potential. According to the 2022 Solo and Small Firm Compensation Report by Above the Law (ATL), attorneys at firms in a city or metro area with a population of one million or more reported earning higher compensation on the whole than their counterparts in smaller regions. Among both sets of attorneys, the largest groups of respondents reported compensation between $100,000 and $249,000. However, metro-area attorneys were more likely to earn $250,000 or more, while a higher proportion of attorneys in smaller markets reported salaries of less than $100,000.
This trend is often seen with estate planning attorneys, with those working in larger cities such as New York City and Silicon Valley tending to earn more due to the higher cost of living and greater demand for legal services in those areas. Additionally, larger cities tend to have more high-net-worth individuals who are in need of sophisticated estate planning services.
Experience is a key factor that can have a significant impact on an estate planning attorney’s potential. According to the Solo and Small Firm Compensation Report, more than 70% of partners reported compensation of at least $150,000, and 44% earn $250,000 or more.
One-third of associate attorneys reported earning between $100,000 and $150,000. Attorneys who graduated in the 1990s are the most likely to make $500,000 or more. This is because attorneys with more experience tend to command higher fees than those who are just starting out as they have a greater level of expertise and knowledge, and they can handle more complex cases. Additionally, they have a larger network of contacts and clients, which can help to generate more business.
Size of Law Firm
The size of the law firm can also play a role in determining an attorney’s earning potential. Among solo practitioners surveyed, the largest percentage, 28%, make between $150,000-$250,000. Compensation reported by respondents at firms with 11-25 attorneys is very similar to that reported by those in the 26-50 attorney range. For both firm categories, more than half of attorneys reported earning between $100,000 and $249,000, and roughly one-third earned $250,000 or more.
This trend is often seen with attorneys working for larger law firms, as they tend to earn more than those working for solo or small firms. This is because larger firms often have more resources, including marketing and support staff, which can help to generate more business. Additionally, larger firms often have a wider range of clients, which can lead to a greater variety of cases and more opportunities for earning.
The type of law one practices can greatly influence earning potential. According to ATL, most commercial litigation associates (45%), corporate law associates (60%), and intellectual property associates (42%) report earning between $150,000-$249,999. However, over one-third of intellectual property partners report earnings in excess of $500,000.
These areas of law often involve complex and high-stakes cases that require specialized knowledge and experience, which can command higher fees and lead to higher earning potential for attorneys. We’ll analyze the potential earnings for estate planning attorneys later in this article.
Reputation and Level of Expertise
Clients are often willing to pay more for an attorney who has a good reputation and is considered to be an expert in their field. A reputable estate attorney is seen as more trustworthy and competent, which can lead to more clients seeking their services. Additionally, an attorney considered an expert in their field is seen as having a higher level of knowledge and skills, which can also lead to more clients seeking their services and a higher billing rate.
An estate planning attorney’s reputation and level of expertise can be built and maintained through a variety of means, such as:
● Education and training: Attorneys who have received advanced education or training in estate planning, such as an LLM degree in Taxation or Estate Planning, are often considered to have a higher level of expertise.
● Successful cases: Attorneys who have successfully handled complex or high-profile estate planning cases are often considered to be experts in their field and can gain notoriety from their successful cases.
● Broad experience: Attorneys who have legal experience beyond just wills and trust can also provide extra value in their services. For example, experienced attorneys who have knowledge of real estate issues, business succession planning, life insurance, estate tax and intellectual property can help clients navigate building a comprehensive estate plan.
● Professional certifications: Attorneys who have earned professional certifications, such as the Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust, and Probate Law (CETPL), can demonstrate their level of expertise.
Networking and Business Development Skills
Attorneys with a strong reputation and expertise can benefit from a robust network of contacts and business relationships, which can lead to new clients and increased income. These attorneys may also be more likely to be referred by other attorneys and professional colleagues.
Additionally, being active members of professional organizations such as the National Association of Estate Planners & Councils (NAEPC) can further enhance their level of expertise. Community involvement, such as volunteering or holding leadership roles in community organizations, can also contribute to building a reputable and expert image.
Furthermore, sharing knowledge through writing articles or speaking at conferences in the field of estate planning and probate law can further establish estate planning lawyers as experts in the field.
Demand for Estate Planning Services
The demand for estate planning services can vary depending on the region and population demographic. For example, areas with a higher concentration of elderly individuals may have a higher demand for estate planning services. When there is a high demand for estate planning services in an area, attorneys who provide these services may be able to charge higher flat fees and take on more clients. Additionally, if there is a high demand for estate planning services in an area and few attorneys providing these services, an estate planning attorney may be able to charge higher fees because there is less competition for their services.
Ability to Market Services Effectively
Effective marketing can include tactics such as creating a strong online presence, networking with other professionals, writing articles or blog posts, speaking at events and conferences, or even advertising in print or online. By reaching more potential clients, attorneys can increase the number of clients they take on and in some cases, charge higher fees because of their reputation and expertise.
A large focus of marketing for estate planning attorneys is to provide education about estate planning process and the gift you are leaving your loved ones by making a plan. Marketing materials often include FAQs about revocable living trusts, wills, and healthcare directives.
According to ATL, the majority of associates (50%) practicing in the field of trusts and estates report earning $75,000 to $99,999 annually. The majority of estate planning partners (approximately 35%) reported earning $100,000 to $149,999 annually. However, it’s important to note that these figures are self-reported and may not reflect the true average earnings of estate planning attorneys. Additionally, earnings can vary widely depending on location, years of experience, and the size and type of law firm an attorney works for.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for lawyers was $122,960 in May 2020. However, the BLS does not provide specific information on the earnings of estate planning attorneys.
The top earners in the field of estate planning are typically those with a great deal of experience and expertise and a strong reputation in the industry. These attorneys often have many years of experience in estate planning and have a deep understanding of the legal and financial aspects of estate planning or related fields. According to ATL, roughly 9% of partners reported earning more than $500,000 annually.
In terms of location, estate planning attorneys who practice in high-income areas such as New York City, Los Angeles, and San Francisco tend to earn the highest salaries. This is due in part to the higher cost of living in these areas, as well as the greater demand for legal services among high-net-worth individuals.
Additionally, estate planning attorneys who work at large law firms in these high-income areas also tend to earn higher salaries. These firms often have a wide range of clients, including large corporations and wealthy individuals, and they have the resources to handle complex and high-value cases.
It’s important to note that these are just general trends, and there can be many exceptions. There could be small law firms or solo practitioners in rural areas or small towns who are making more money than those working in big law firms in big cities.
How You Can Make More Money as an Estate Planning Attorney with LAWCLERK
LAWCLERK is a platform that connects hiring attorneys with freelance attorneys who can assist with various legal and administrative tasks.
LAWCLERK for Freelance Remote Attorneys
Remote attorneys experienced in estate planning can use the LAWCLERK platform to not only expand their network of other attorneys who may need help with legal services within their expertise, but they can also expand their network of other attorneys who may be able to refer new clients to them, which can contribute to their earning potential.
Additionally, the ability to serve clients anywhere in the country can also provide an opportunity for remote attorneys to earn more money by partnering with firms in larger cities where legal fees are typically higher. This expands their reach and enables them to access a wider range of clients. This can be especially beneficial for remote associates who live in rural areas, as working with a hiring firm in a larger city where fees may be higher to help them earn more money.
LAWCLERK for Hiring Attorneys
LAWCLERK is a valuable tool for hiring attorneys to expand their services by working with remote associates who have niche backgrounds. By partnering with the right remote associates, firms can add specialized areas of law such as complex estate planning, estate tax planning, or elder law to their offerings, which can help increase revenue by offering more comprehensive services to clients. The platform also enables hiring attorneys to enlist help crafting online content like blogs, white papers, and website copy, which can help reach a wider audience and attract new clients. There are countless ways to leverage LAWCLERK to power your law office.
Estate planning law firms can also increase efficiency and productivity by engaging remote attorneys to perform discrete tasks such as document preparation and client communication. The ability to work from anywhere allows firms to have a larger pool of talent to choose from, and remote attorneys can also work flexible hours, which can be beneficial for firms that have clients with demanding schedules. Furthermore, having remote attorneys can help to reduce overhead costs, such as office space and equipment expenses.
By utilizing LAWCLERK, firms can access a wide range of specialized services and increase efficiency, productivity, and ultimately increase their revenue.