Top 10 Richest Lawyers In America 2024: Who Made the Most Money?

Have you ever wondered who the richest lawyers in America are? Well, get ready because we’re about to dive into the top 10 list of the wealthiest attorneys in the U.S. as of 2024!

These legal eagles have used their smarts, skills, and a whole lot of hard work to make some serious cash.

We’re talking billions, people! 😲 Some made their fortunes practicing law, while others leveraged their legal know-how to become business tycoons, sports team owners, and even TV stars.

So grab a seat and let’s count down the richest of the rich when it comes to America’s lawyers.

We’ll explore how they made their money, what kind of law they practiced, and why they’re rolling in the dough. Let’s go!

Top 10 Richest Lawyers in America 2024

Richest Lawyers

Whether you’re an aspiring or current attorney striving for greatness, these ultra-elite colleagues represent the pinnacle of financial success possible in law today. Read on for inspiration to reach for the top!

How Did We Rank the Richest Lawyers?

Our rankings are based on the lawyers’ net worths as estimated by leading wealth trackers. We focused on lawyers who built their wealth through legal careers rather than other ventures.

The lawyers on this list range from elite trial attorneys to corporate lawyers to those involved in high-stakes litigation. Many have had ties to celebrity clients, record-breaking settlements, or legendary court cases.

So exactly how rich are America’s wealthiest legal eagles? Let’s find out!

#1: Joe Jamail: The “King of Torts” ($1.7 Billion)

Joe Jamail Net Worth

Kicking off our list of super rich lawyers is the late Joe Jamail. This Houston attorney was often called the “King of Torts” and the “wealthiest practicing attorney in America.”

Jamail made his fortune through personal injury law. He was known for winning huge verdicts for his clients, including a record-breaking $10.5 billion judgment in the Pennzoil vs. Texaco case. For that case alone, Jamail pocketed a tidy $345 million contingency fee. Not too shabby!

Some key facts about Joe Jamail:
  • Graduated from the University of Texas School of Law in 1953.
  • Over his 6-decade career, won 100s of verdicts worth $1M+.
  • Had five verdicts over $100 million each.
  • Most famous case: Pennzoil vs Texaco ($10.5B verdict).
  • Net worth at his death in 2015: $1.7 billion.

#2: Charlie Munger: Investing Guru & Ex-Lawyer ($2.6 billion)

Charlie Munger Net Worth

Next up is Charlie Munger, best known as Warren Buffett’s right-hand man and the Vice Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway. But before he was an investing wiz, Munger was a real estate lawyer!

After graduating from Harvard Law and practicing law in California for a bit, Munger left the legal world to focus on investing. That was a smart move. He teamed up with Buffett and grew his fortune to an eye-popping $2.6 billion.

A few notable things about Charlie Munger:
  • Earned a law degree from Harvard.
  • Practiced real estate law early in his career.
  • Shifted focus to investing & partnered with Warren Buffett.
  • Became Vice Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway.
  • Owned $2.2B+ of Berkshire Hathaway stock at his death.
  • Net worth: $2.6 billion.

#3: John Branca: The Rockstar Attorney ($100 million)

John Branca Net Worth

You may not know his name, but John Branca is the go-to lawyer for some of the biggest names in music. This entertainment attorney has represented a whopping 30+ Rock and Roll Hall of Fame acts, like Aerosmith, The Rolling Stones, and The Jackson 5.

Branca’s most famous client was the King of Pop himself, Michael Jackson. He served as Jackson’s lawyer for decades and now co-manages the late singer’s estate, which was valued at $111 million in 2021.

Some quick facts about John Branca:
  • Graduated from UCLA School of Law in 1975.
  • Reps 30+ Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees.
  • Famous clients: Michael Jackson, The Rolling Stones, Aerosmith.
  • Co-manages the Michael Jackson estate.
  • Head of music at law firm Ziffren Brittenham LLP.
  • Net worth: $100 million.

#4: Robert Shapiro: The Dream Team Lawyer Turned Entrepreneur ($120 million)

Robert Shapiro Net Worth

Robert Shapiro burst into the spotlight as part of O.J. Simpson’s “Dream Team” of defense attorneys in the famous 1994 murder trial. But there’s a lot more to this lawyer than that one case.

Shapiro has built a super successful law career representing tons of rich and famous clients. He’s also quite the entrepreneur, co-founding companies like LegalZoom (the go-to spot for DIY legal docs) and ShoeDazzle (co-founded with Kim K herself).

Here’s the scoop on Robert Shapiro:
  • Earned J.D. from Loyola Law School in 1968.
  • Part of O.J. Simpson’s “Dream Team” defense.
  • Reps many celeb clients.
  • Co-founded LegalZoom, ShoeDazzle &
  • Most successful venture: LegalZoom (valued at $2B+).
  • Net worth: $120 million.

#5: Steuart Walton: Billionaire Walmart Heir & Lawyer ($300 Million)

Steuart Walton Net Worth

Steuart Walton is the grandson of Walmart founder Sam Walton, so you know he’s got some serious cash. But did you know he’s also a lawyer?

Yep, Steuart earned his law degree from Georgetown in 2005 and worked as an attorney in London for a few years. He later joined Walmart’s mergers & acquisitions team before venturing out to start his own aircraft manufacturing company.

Some interesting tidbits about Steuart Walton:
  • Grandson of Walmart founder Sam Walton.
  • On Walmart’s board of directors since 2016.
  • Got J.D. from Georgetown Law in 2005.
  • Worked as M&A lawyer for Walmart in London.
  • Founded aircraft manufacturer Game Composites.
  • Started investment firm RZC with brother Tom.
  • Individual net worth: $300 million.
  • Part of Walton family fortune worth $240B+.

#6: Judge Judy: From the Bench to the Bank ($440 Million)

Judge Judy Net Worth

You know her, you love her, it’s Judge Judy! This former New York family court judge, whose real name is Judith Sheindlin, has turned her tough-as-nails TV persona into a major cash cow.

After a career as a lawyer and judge, Sheindlin skyrocketed to fame with her hit TV show “Judge Judy.” With her signature sass and no-nonsense approach, she’s become one of the highest-paid TV personalities around.

Let’s review some key facts about Judge Judy:
  • Earned law degree from New York Law School in 1965.
  • Worked as a lawyer, then NY family court prosecutor.
  • Appointed a criminal court judge in the 1980s.
  • Shot to fame with “Judge Judy” TV show.
  • One of the richest self-made women in America.
  • Net worth: $440 million.

#7: Clive Davis: The Music Mogul Esquire ($850 Million)

Clive Davis Net Worth

Clive Davis is a legendary music executive who’s launched the careers of superstars like Whitney Houston, Bruce Springsteen, and Alicia Keys. But before he was a record industry titan, Davis was a lawyer.

Armed with a law degree from Harvard, Davis started at a law firm working with CBS Records. He quickly climbed the ladder to become CEO of Columbia Records and later, CEO of RCA Music. Talk about a career change!

Here’s what you need to know about Clive Davis:
  • Graduated from Harvard Law in 1956.
  • Worked at CBS Records as a lawyer.
  • Rose to President of Columbia Records.
  • Later became CEO of RCA Music Group.
  • Signed major acts like Bruce Springsteen & Whitney Houston.
  • Won 5 Grammy Awards.
  • Net worth: $850 million.

#8: Bill Neukom: From Microsoft’s GC to Baseball Boss ($850 Million)

Bill Neukom Net Worth

Bill Neukom made his millions as the head lawyer for a little company called Microsoft. Ever heard of it?

😉 As Microsoft’s lead counsel from the 80s through the early 2000s, Neukom was in charge of handling all the tech giant’s legal matters, including protecting its valuable intellectual property.

But Neukom isn’t just a legal eagle – he’s also a big baseball fan.

He was managing partner of the group that bought the San Francisco Giants. During his time as CEO, the team clinched the World Series title in 2010.

Some quick facts about Bill Neukom:
  • Got a law degree from Stanford in 1967.
  • Worked at Microsoft as lead counsel from 1985-2002.
  • Managed legal issues like IP protection & antitrust defense.
  • A led investor group that bought the SF Giants.
  • The Giants won the World Series in 2010 under his leadership.
  • Also served as President of the American Bar Association.
  • Net worth: $850 million.

#9: Peter Angelos: The Asbestos Litigation King ($2 Billion)

Peter Angelos Net Worth

Peter Angelos is a powerhouse lawyer who made his vast fortune through high-stakes product liability and mass tort litigation. His specialty? Going after companies on behalf of workers harmed by asbestos exposure.

One of Angelos’ biggest legal wins was a massive settlement for 8,500+ asbestos poisoning victims. His cut of the deal? A cool $330 million. He also scored a $150M payout representing Maryland in a huge tobacco lawsuit. Cha-ching!

But Angelos isn’t just a master litigator. He’s also the majority owner of the Baltimore Orioles MLB team.

Here’s a snapshot of Peter Angelos’ success:
  • Graduated from the University of Baltimore School of Law in 1961.
  • Known for high-profile product liability & mass tort cases.
  • Won a $330M fee in a huge asbestos settlement.
  • Pocketed $150M for representing Maryland vs Big Tobacco.
  • Owns the Baltimore Orioles baseball team.
  • Net worth: $2 billion.

#10: Jerry Reinsdorf: The Billionaire Sports Mogul & Ex-Tax Lawyer ($2.1 Billion)

Jerry Reinsdorf Net Worth

Topping our list of the richest lawyers in America is Jerry Reinsdorf, the king of the Chicago sports scene. This former tax attorney owns not one, but two of the Windy City’s most beloved teams: the Chicago Bulls (NBA) and the Chicago White Sox (MLB).

Reinsdorf started out as a real estate lawyer specializing in tax shelters before venturing into the sports biz. With him at the helm, the Bulls won six NBA championships (you might have heard of some guy named Michael Jordan 🏀) and the White Sox grabbed the World Series title in 2005.

A few fun facts about Jerry Reinsdorf:
  • Graduated from George Washington University Law School in 1960.
  • Began career as a real estate tax shelter lawyer.
  • Bought the Chicago White Sox in 1981.
  • Purchased the Chicago Bulls in 1985.
  • Bulls won 6 NBA titles under his leadership.
  • White Sox clinched the World Series in 2005.
  • Net worth: $2.1 billion (richest lawyer in America!).

#11. George Conway – $39 Million

George Conway Net Worth

High-profile conservative lawyer George Conway built his wealth through a successful legal career spanning corporate litigation, antitrust law, and Supreme Court cases.

Key facts:

    • Graduated from Yale Law School in 1987
    • Founding partner at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz
    • Best known for representing Paula Jones in her lawsuit against President Bill Clinton

Conway’s most recent claim to fame, however, has been as an outspoken critic of former President Donald Trump – who happens to be married to Conway’s wife, Kellyanne.

#12: William Barr – $50 Million

William Barr Net Worth

Former CIA officer William Barr served two controversial stints as Attorney General under Presidents George H.W. Bush and Donald Trump.

Key Facts:

    • Graduated from George Washington University Law School in 1977
    • Served as 77th and 85th US Attorney General
    • Oversaw high-profile cases like the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing trial

In between government appointments, Barr held top legal roles at Verizon Communications and Time Warner – no doubt adding to his wealth.

#13: Roy Black – $65 Million

Roy Black Net Worth

Roy Black earned the nickname “The Professor” for his crisp interrogations and dynamic style in the courtroom. The Miami-based defense attorney has defended celebrities like William Kennedy Smith, Rush Limbaugh, and Jeffrey Epstein.

Key facts:

    • Graduated from the University of Miami School of Law in 1970
    • Scored the highest points ever on the Florida Bar Exam
    • Current senior partner at Black, Srebnick, Kornspan & Stumpf

In addition to high-profile trial work, Black makes legal commentary for networks like NBC and previously starred in a reality legal TV series.

#15: Willie E. Gary – $215 Million

Willie E Gary Net Worth

Willie E. Gary earned a law degree at North Carolina Central University in 1974 before launching a storied career in civil litigation. Dubbed “The Giant Killer,” Gary has won massive settlements against corporate giants like Disney and Anheuser-Busch.

Key Facts:

    • Won over $30 billion for clients in civil suits
    • Owns a private jet called “Wings of Justice”
    • Current senior partner at Gary, Williams, Parenti, Watson & Gary

With his flashy style and record-breaking wins, Gary embodies the place where courtroom drama meets corporate warfare. Just another day for one of America’s most successful trial attorneys!

How Can Young Lawyers Follow in Their Footsteps?

The lawyers on this list took very different paths to build their wealth:

  • Find a Specialty – Attorneys like Peter Angelos and Judith Sheindlin became experts in asbestos litigation and family law. Their niche expertise led to fame and fortune.
  • Take Risks – Jerry Reinsdorf left law to become an entrepreneur, showing sometimes you have to take bold risks to maximize success.
  • Build a Personal Brand – Willie Gary, Johnnie Cochran, and others became true celebrities in legal circles through their dynamic presence and record-setting cases.

Young lawyers should think seriously about which legal career paths align with their skills and interests. Finding your specialty – and your voice – can unlock a wealth of opportunities.

Most Lucrative Fields of Law

If your primary motivation is to maximize your earning potential as a lawyer, consider exploring these lucrative legal career paths:

  • Trial Law / Litigation – Trial attorneys like Roy Black and Willie Gary take home a significant percentage from record-setting judgments and settlements.
  • Corporate Law – Attorneys who represent major corporations can earn seven figures, especially partners at elite firms.
  • Sports & Entertainment Law – Negotiating contracts and deals for celebrity clients can mean big bucks for lawyers like John Branca.
  • Intellectual Property Law – With tech innovators continuing to launch startups and release cutting-edge products, the services of IP attorneys are in high demand.

How America’s Top Lawyers Built Their Wealth?

Many of America’s richest lawyers have a few key things in common:

  • Focus on a Profitable Specialty – Rather than be general practitioners, most wealthy attorneys zero in on a specific high-earning field of law.
  • Big Payouts from Record Settlements – Massive billion-dollar class action settlements have minted fortunes for lawyers like Peter Angelos.
  • Ownership of Valuable Assets – Jerry Reinsdorf and others multiplied their wealth by acquiring extremely valuable sports teams and other properties.
  • Leverage Fame into Ventures – Judith Sheindlin, Robert Shapiro, and others capitalized on celebrity status from high-profile cases to launch lucrative books, shows, and other business ventures.
  • Decades of Discipline – Building extraordinary wealth in law generally requires 30+ years of relentless persistence, networking, learning, and luck.

So while overnight legal fortunes are rare, focusing relentlessly on a lucrative practice area can help diligent attorneys reap substantial long-term rewards.

How to Become a Successful Lawyer in America?

Beyond picking a profitable legal specialty, lawyers aiming for the top need to:

  • Gain admission to a top law school
  • Excel academically
  • Land jobs/internships at premier law firms
  • Pass the bar exam on the first attempt
  • Build strong networks of clients, attorneys, judges
  • Develop exceptional expertise in your niche
  • Deliver great results for clients
  • Prioritize rainmaking and attract business
  • Learn effective marketing and self-promotion
  • Build personal wealth through investing

This formula requires dedication but maximizes your chances of rising to elite levels of success and income.

Best Perks of Being a Lawyer in America

America’s legal elite enjoy enviable benefits, including:

High Earning Potential

  • The median lawyer salary is over $120,000
  • Top attorneys can make millions per year
  • Equity partnerships offer a share of profits

Status & Influence

  • Prestigious career with high barriers to entry
  • Shape laws, regulations, and government policies
  • Rub shoulders with business titans & celebrities

Intellectual Stimulation

  • Tackle complex, challenging problems
  • Continually learn new concepts and skills
  • Outmaneuver opponents in high-stakes cases

Flexibility & Autonomy

  • Set your hours once established
  • Work remotely quite easily
  • Build boutique firms with a custom culture

The combination of outstanding compensation and professional fulfillment fuels high career satisfaction for many legal elites.

Top 50 Law Schools to Start Your Law Journey:

Rank Law School
1 Yale Law School
2 Harvard Law School
3 Stanford Law School
4 Columbia Law School
5 University Of Chicago Law School
6 New York University School Of Law
7 University Of Pennsylvania Law School
8 University Of Virginia School Of Law
9 University Of California-Berkeley Boalt Hall School Of Law
10 Duke University School Of Law
11 University Of Michigan Law School
12 Northwestern University School Of Law
13 Cornell University Law School
14 Georgetown University Law Center
15 University Of Texas School Of Law
16 University of California-Los Angeles School of Law
17 Vanderbilt University Law School
18 Washington University School of Law-St. Louis
19 Emory Law School
20 The George Washington University Law School
21 University of Minnesota Law School
22 University of Southern California Gould School of Law
23 University of Alabama School of Law
24 The College of William & Mary Marshall-Wythe School of Law
25 University of Washington School of Law
26 University of Notre Dame Law School
27 Boston University School of Law
28 University of Iowa College of Law
29 Indiana University Maurer School of Law-Bloomington
30 University of Georgia School of Law

FAQs About Becoming a Successful Lawyer:

  • Q: How long does it take to become a lawyer?

A: After earning a bachelor’s degree (usually taking 4 years), you need to complete 3 years of law school to earn your Juris Doctor. You must then pass the bar exam to qualify for a license to practice law. So the typical timeline is 7-8 years.

  • Q: What majors make the best lawyers?

A: Common undergraduate majors for aspiring lawyers include political science, history, English, and economics. Classes that emphasize critical reading, writing, analysis, and public speaking skills tend to prepare students well for legal careers.

  • Q: Is starting your firm better than a law firm job?

A: Starting your practice offers greater potential income but carries more risk and stress. Working at an established firm provides mentorship, resources, and a more predictable career path. Most lawyers work for existing firms for years before considering starting their own.

  • Q: How hard is law school compared to undergrad?

A: Law school classes typically require vastly more reading and preparation than undergraduate courses and expect students to “think like lawyers” in applying concepts. The Socratic teaching method keeps students on their toes. So law school is generally seen as exponentially more difficult and demanding than college.

  • Q: Is being a lawyer a good job?

A: Law tends to be a stable, prestigious, and intellectually rewarding career with above-average compensation. However, the work can feature long, stressful hours under intense pressure. Individuals who thrive on mastering complex problems and winning high-stakes debates tend to find legal work highly satisfying.

  • Q: How much debt is typical for law school graduates?

A: The average law school debt burden upon graduation is estimated to be around $110,000 from both undergraduate and graduate studies, though top private schools can result in over $200,000 in loans. Budget carefully when evaluating programs!

  • Q: What GPA/LSAT scores are required for top law schools?

A: Each law school weighs GPA and LSAT scores differently, but you typically want above a 3.7 GPA and at least a 165 on the LSAT to have a shot at elite programs, with mid-tier schools usually requiring around a 155 LSAT and 3.3 GPA minimum.

  • Q: What’s the typical lawyer’s starting salary at a big law firm?

A: As of 2024, the estimated starting salary for first-year associates at “biglaw” firms with over 500 lawyers is around $215,000 per year. Mid-sized and small firms’ salaries average closer to $90,000 for entry-level.

  • Q: How competitive is landing a federal court clerkship?

A: Landing a prestigious clerkship with the Supreme Court or Appeals courts immediately after law school continues to grow increasingly competitive, with less than 2% of applicants typically earning coveted clerk roles seen as pathways to elite legal careers.

  • Q: Can you become a lawyer later in life?

A: Absolutely! Many law students do not start until their late 20s or 30s after having pursued other careers. Older candidates often leverage valuable world experience. It’s ultimately never too late to pivot into the field of law if you meet academic requirements.


America’s legal industry continues generating massive wealth for elite practitioners who rise to the top. While achieving such rarified levels of income requires tremendous ability and effort, the financial and professional fulfillment rewards can prove well worth the arduous journey.

For law students and newly minted lawyers weighing career options, focusing relentlessly on developing expertise in lucrative specialties like corporate law and mass torts tends to maximize earning potential in the long run.

Ultimately, factors like genuine passion for legal theory and process separate great lawyers from the pack. As Willie Gary put it: “If you know your purpose in life, you can get through anything.”

By cultivating their purpose and talents, perhaps today’s most driven legal rookies will one day join the profession’s billionaire club. It’s no easy feat – but for attorneys with the right stuff, the sky is truly the limit.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *