Before delving into what type of lawyer makes the least money, let me ask you guys this: What do you think of when you hear the word “legal”? I’m sure some people think it’s synonymous with “expensive.” Now, many lawyers will argue that they are not expensive — in fact, many of them actually suggest the opposite. They will tell you they offer competitive rates and flexible payment options that are more than competitive with non-legal alternatives such as accounting and engineering.
It’s no secret that lawyers make a lot of money. Although it’s possible to earn just as much or even more than a lawyer with less training and experience, it seems like most people generally think of lawyers in terms of prestige. Now, I’m not saying that all or even most lawyers are rich (at least not yet), but they do earn a steady income while they practice their craft.
What type of lawyer makes the least money?
The best way to determine what type of lawyer makes the least money is to compare their hourly rate with the average hourly rate of other lawyers in the same city. Let’s say that you’re looking for a lawyer in San Diego who charges $300 an hour (or $30 an hour). The average lawyer in San Diego charges $100 per hour. This means that if you find a San Diego lawyer who charges $300 an hour, he or she is making about 30% less than other lawyers in town. If you want to know what type of law firm makes the most money, then you need to look at the total cost of doing business for a given firm. For example, if you have a general practice law firm with 40 employees and your annual salary bill is $3 million, then you’ll need to pay out 1/40th of that ($1.25 million) in salaries each year just to keep things running smoothly.
The type of lawyer who makes the least money is the one with a niche practice. It’s hard to make a living as a sole practitioner in a niche practice. You’re not going to be able to charge enough to support yourself and your family, much less pay off your house or car, or retirement account. Even if you have multiple clients who are willing to pay a lot, they will never be enough to support you in full. What’s more, many of your clients won’t need you much at all. Many of them will have been referred by other lawyers, and they’ll already know what they need and can get it elsewhere if they don’t have time for you.
So even if these people do come through for you, there’s only so much work available for them and only so many hours in the day that you can spend working on their cases — which means that even though your billable hours are high compared with those of other lawyers, there won’t be very many of them anyway. This is why almost no one has a niche practice anymore: it’s too hard to make money doing it.
While this may have been an overarching theme of the article, it’s up to the individual reader to decide what type of lawyer makes the least money.
Last year, we took a look at what type of lawyers make the most money. While not a perfect indicator of earnings, it’s interesting to see how different fields stack up against each other. Today, we’re looking at the low end of the spectrum: which kind of lawyer makes the least amount of money? The answer may surprise you!