Lawyer Income Reports: How Much Can Solo Practitioners and Small Law Firm Attorneys Make?

Maintaining a tight grasp on earning expectations is essential for solo practitioners and small law firms. Within the legal space, there’s a lot of coverage on large law firm earnings and salary reports; But, what should reel in more attention is what earnings and compensation can be expected with solo practitioners and small law firms. Why? According to Clio’s 2018 Solo & Small Firm Compensation Survey Report, law firms with fewer than twenty lawyers account for ninety-five percent of law firms.

To get a better picture of what income trends lawyers in the small law firm sector can expect with earnings on average, we combed through expert reports. Below, we’ll review the following:

  • Average earnings overall
  • Average hourly rates overall
  • Average earnings according to law practice type

Attorney Average Earnings and Hourly Rates by State (All Firm Sizes)

With costs of living and legal demands varying from state to state, gathering perspective on average earnings can be crucial to financial decisions solo practitioners and small law firms make. Below, we’ve compiled average hourly rates and average lawyer salaries by state for reference.

State

Average Lawyer Hourly Rate (2018)

Average Law Firm Hourly Rate (2018)

Average Lawyer Salary Earned (2018)

Alabama

$197

$185

$117,100

Alaska

Not Available

Not Available

$121,680

Arizona

$251

$225

$145,750

Arkansas

$226

$213

$98,780

California

$311

$284

$171,550

Colorado

$247

$225

$147,560

Delaware

$271

$242

Not Available

Florida

$283

$257

$128,920

Georgia

$264

$245

$128,930

Hawaii

Not Available

Not Available

$111,290

Idaho

$203

$192

$99,360

Illinois

$280

$262

$152,980

Indiana

$220

$206

$113,360

Iowa

$154

$150

$112,630

Kansas

$187

$177

$109,020

Kentucky

$207

$197

$100,100

Louisiana

$222

$207

$105,490

Maine

$148

$137

$107,120

Maryland

$282

$257

$128,340

Massachusetts

$258

$249

$165,610

Michigan

$244

$229

$110,180

Minnesota

$243

$227

$119,330

Mississippi

$202

$182

$97,990

Missouri

$236

$215

$113,780

Montana

$190

$180

$88,600

Nebraska

$201

$195

$108,170

Nevada

$313

$282

$138,920

New Hampshire

$225

$216

$125,890

New Jersey

$296

$281

$139,020

New Mexico

$233

$214

$105,910

New York

$325

$308

$167,110

North Carolina

$228

$206

$129,990

North Dakota

$229

$207

$107,290

Ohio

$219

$206

$121,520

Oklahoma

$226

$207

$118,790

Oregon

$234

$215

$119,500

Pennsylvania

$262

$251

$138,610

Rhode Island

$223

$201

$125,330

South Carolina

$236

$208

$105,320

South Dakota

$200

$196

$109,070

Tennessee

$206

$195

$124,470

Texas

$272

$241

$150,250

Utah

$227

$208

$112,380

Vermont

$210

$203

$107,490

Virginia

$258

$241

$139,180

Washington

$254

$230

$136,480

West Virginia

$142

$137

$98,630

Wisconsin

$201

$192

$130,450

Wyoming

$216

$208

$105,600

(Source: Forbes and Bureau of Labor Statistics and Clio 2018 Legal Trends Report

Solo Practitioner Average Earnings

The graph below represents average salaries earned by solo practitioners both nationally and across different practice areas. This can provide essential insight into what salaries lawyers can expect on average.

Earnings (2018)

Percentage of Solo Practitioners Who Earned This

$0-$50,000

26%

$50,000 - $74,900

18%

$75,000 - $99,900

10%

$100,000 - $149,000

12%

$150,000 - $249,000

15%

$250,000 - $499,000

13%

$500,000 and higher

6%

(Source: Clio 2018 Solo & Small Firm Compensation Survey Report)

The graphs below represent average salaries earned by small law firms ,both nationally and across different practice areas, and are separated by number of attorneys employed. This can provide essential insight into what salaries lawyers can expect on average, with marked differences showing between law firms of different sizes.

Average Earnings Small Law Firms with 2-5 Attorneys

Average Earnings (2018)

Percentage of Attorneys Who Earned This

$0 - $50,000

18%

$50,000 - $74,900

30%

$75,000 - $99,900

16%

$100,000 - $149,000

14%

$150,000 - $249,000

9%

$250,000 - $499,000

7%

$500,000 and higher

6%

(Source: Clio 2018 Solo & Small Firm Compensation Survey Report)

Average Earnings Small Law Firms with 6-10 Attorneys

Average Earnings (2018)

Percentage of Attorneys Who Earned This

$0 - $50,000

27%

$50,000 - $74,900

25%

$75,000 - $99,900

18%

$100,000 - $149,000

15%

$150,000 - $249,000

9%

$250,000 - $499,000

4%

$500,000 and higher

2%

(Source: Clio 2018 Solo & Small Firm Compensation Survey Report)

Average Earnings Small Law Firms with 11-25 Attorneys

Average Earnings (2018)

Percentage of Attorneys Who Earned This

$0 - $50,000

15%

$50,000 - $74,900

17%

$75,000 - $99,900

23%

$100,000 - $149,000

29%

$150,000 - $249,000

8%

$250,000 - $499,000

6%

$500,000 and higher

2%

(Source: Clio 2018 Solo & Small Firm Compensation Survey Report)

Average Earnings Small Law Firms with 26-50 Attorneys

Average Earnings (2018)

Percentage of Attorneys Who Earned This

$0 - $50,000

12%

$50,000 - $74,900

24%

$75,000 - $99,900

16%

$100,000 - $149,000

27%

$150,000 - $249,000

9%

$250,000 - $499,000

6%

$500,000 and higher

6%

(Source: Clio 2018 Solo & Small Firm Compensation Survey Report)

Earnings by Law Practice Type (All Firm Sizes)

These days, most law firms tend to gravitate towards picking a legal specialty instead of offering a broad spectrum of general legal services. As a solo practitioner or small law firm, it’s important to have insight into what types of earnings are seen on average depending on practice type; This can also help with projections.

Practice Type

Average Attorney Earnings (2018)

Bankruptcy

$140,000

Business

$218,000

Criminal Defense

$171,000

Employment & Labor

$197,000

Estate Planning

$174,000

Family/Divorce

$142,000

Immigration

$134,000

Intellectual Property

$224,000

Medical Malpractice

$267,000

Personal Injury

$254,000

Probate

$137,000

Real Estate

$191,000

Workers Compensation

$226,000

(Source: Martindale-Avvo 2019 Attorney Compensation Report for 2018)

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