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How Personal Injury Attorneys Get Paid

Jul 31

There are many ways personal injury lawyers can earn money. Some have high-paying jobs that pay them well to support their families, while others create income by taking on cases for which they’re paid a contingency fee. Any lawyer who practices law in the United States must be registered with the U.S. Supreme Court and abide by its rules, which limits how much cash a lawyer can receive from a single case or client. Read on to learn more about how personal injury lawyers get paid, including details on each type of compensation and what factors might impact your take home pay as an attorney. Learn about Farar & Lewis here. 

Pro Bono Work

Lawyers sometimes get paid to represent clients in cases where their own financial gain is not a factor. In some states, lawyers are required to complete a certain amount of pro bono work each year, which means they may get paid even if they take on a case for no fee. However, many states have no specific requirement for how much or how little a lawyer must complete for free services. Many lawyers simply choose to donate their time, or “pro bono,” without any expectation of compensation. Pro bono work is particularly important for lawyers who have chosen to focus their practice on issues relating to social justice. Lawyers who choose to specialize in areas related to civil rights, criminal defense, or disability law are often required to complete a certain amount of pro bono work as part of their bar registration. This can help build a network of lawyers who can provide assistance to low-income individuals or communities.

Law Firm Income

Lawyers who work in-house at established law firms, or at a corporate law practice owned by a large company, may earn a steady salary that is determined by their employer. In these cases, the salaries of lawyers may be determined by statistical formulas, and they may work only a few hours per week. Lawyers who work at firms that are not operated by a corporation may be able to earn a fee-only or contingency-fee income. Many lawyers choose to operate as a solo practice, earning their own income. In this case, the lawyer may be able to set their own fee and decide which cases to accept. In some states, lawyers may be able to work for a government agency or a non-profit legal service organization and be able to set their own rates.

Legal Earnings Through Lawsuit Settlements

Some lawyers may have multiple clients who have the ability to pay them a lump sum or regular income from the assets in a lawsuit or insurance settlement. Lawyers who conduct class action lawsuits may regularly receive large payments that come from the settlements or awards in a single lawsuit, without having to engage in lengthy court battles. Some lawyers specialize in these types of cases, and may receive a percentage of the settlements or awards.

Fee-Only Practice

Many lawyers choose to operate as a fee-only practice. In this case, the lawyer charges a flat fee for each case and has no expectation of earning a percentage of any assets acquired through the lawsuit. This fee-only model is sometimes referred to as “defence-only” or “no-risk” legal work. This kind of legal work may be very lucrative, but it also comes with a significant amount of risk, since the lawyer takes all responsibility for the outcome of the case.

Reimbursement for Costs Accrued in Pre-Lawsuit Stage

Some states require that lawyers working on contingency-fee cases reimburse the client for some pre-lawsuit expenses, including filing fees, discovery expenses, and any expert witness fees. This protectionist practice can reduce the take-home pay of some contingency-fee lawyers.

Legal Earnings from Case Disposition

Accolades, awards, and job promotions can often be attributed to the lawyer’s efforts in a particular case. Many lawyers may be able to increase their income by writing about their cases and publishing articles about their legal practice. Lawyers may also be able to earn a small income by offering expert testimony and serving as an arbitrator in cases that are not associated with a large financial payout.

Summary

There are many ways personal injury lawyers can earn money. Some have high-paying jobs that pay them well to support their families, while others create income by taking on cases for which they’re paid a contingency fee. This article explores how personal injury lawyers get paid, including details on each type of compensation and what factors might impact your take home pay as an attorney.