US solo and small firm attorneys are earning an average of $198,000 annually, according to the first annual solo and small law firm Attorney Compensation Report, published by The Martindale Legal Marketing Network. The report also indicates Compensation varies significantly by gender, area of practice, and geography.
IP comes out top
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 also confirmed an earnings gender-gap still exists, with women earning 38 percent less income than men.
The survey also provides observations on what attorneys find most rewarding and most challenging about their jobs as well as whether they are satisfied with the choices they've made. Sixty-eight percent of solo and small-firm lawyers believe they are fairly compensated for their work, according to the survey. Seventy percent of the male lawyers believed they were fairly compensated, while only 61 percent of the female lawyers felt that way. 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. You can see the full 2018 Martindale Attorney Compensation Report here.