Although many people believe that all lawyers end up rich, this isn’t exactly true. In one year, most lawyers earn around $133,470. That’s an impressive salary that surpasses most peoples’ incomes, but it doesn’t qualify them as millionaires. Of course, some attorneys have transcended the average pay and reached multi-billionaire status. So, who are they?
These lawyers gained their fortune through defending cases and investing in stocks. Some double as reality TV stars, while others represent huge corporations like Disney. From a former San Francisco Giants manager to the attorney who backed every rock n’ roll legend, here are the world’s wealthiest lawyers.
Richard Scruggs Owns A $1.7 Million Fortune
Richard Scruggs has retained his $1.7 billion net worth as a famous trial lawyer. He has successfully argued against several major companies, including the tobacco litigation of the 1990s, home insurance companies after Hurricane Katrina, and a national class action against HMOs.
In 2008, Scruggs pleaded guilty to judicial bribery and served six years in prison. He has now served his time and kept his fortune. During his time in prison, he taught illiterate, non-violent inmates. Now, Scruggs lives with his wife in his Oxford, Mississippi mansion, running Scruggs Law Firm.
The King of Torts Earned $1.5 Billion
Lebanese-American lawyer Joe Jamail is called the “King of Torts.” Why? Because according to Forbes, he has earned around $1.5 billion in net worth through personal injury cases. That makes him the richest attorney in the United States. He received his degree from the University of Texas School of Law, the state he lives in today.
Jamail gained a reputation for his passionate and abrasive advocacy of his clients. The Delaware Supreme Court has accused him of acting “outrageous” and “unacceptable.” Beyond that, Jamail has donated around $200 million towards education.
Bill Lerach Earned The Largest Sum Ever From A Lawsuit
William “Bill” Lerach has earned $900 million during his career as an attorney. When he received a degree from the University of Pittsburgh, he also earned one of the school’s highest awards. Lerach’s most well-known case was his lawsuit against Enron, for which he received $7.12 billion–the largest amount ever paid to an attorney.
Lerach’s private class-action lawsuits include AT&T, Merrill, Apple, Bank of America, Tyco, and WorldCom. In 2007, Lerach pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice for making false declarations under oath. He spent two years in prison and was disbarred from the California State Bar in 2009.
Former Giants Manager Became A Profitable Lawyer
Sports fans may know Bill Neukom as a managing partner of the San Francisco Giants. Although he spent three years in sports, he has dedicated almost 40 years to law. As an attorney, Neukon is well-known for leading Microsoft’s legal counsel and becoming their executive vice president. He has defended Microsoft’s intellectual property across the world, including Apple v. Microsoft.
By 2019, Neukom accumulated a net worth of $850 million. He has also directed many leadership roles: chairman of the Bill Gates law firm, president of the American Bar Association, founder of the World Justice Project, and currently a board member of the Pacific Council on International Policy.
Judge Judy–Yep, She’s Made A Lot!
Ever since Judith Sheindlin (Judge Judy), began her TV series in 1996, she’s made a lot of money. Her annual salary is $45 million, and her net worth is $290 million. Much of her money went to her many homes in New York, Florida, Wyoming, Connecticut, and Beverly Hills, California.
As a lawyer, Sheindlin has made a living in prosecuting domestic violence, child abuse, and juvenile crime cases. In 1982, the mayor of New York appointed her as a judge for her “no-nonsense” attitude. Since then, she has become the world’s highest-paid TV host, raking in $147 million in 2018.
Robert Shapiro, OJ Simpson’s Lawyer
You might recognize the name Robert Shapiro as one of the lawyers who defended O.J. Simpson against charges that he murdered his ex-wife and her friend. After this case, however, Shapiro switched from criminal defense to civil litigation. He enjoys a $100 million net worth from his work as a lawyer and through his many business ventures.
Shapiro has defended many other celebrities such as Darryl Strawberry, Johnny Carson, F. Lee Bailey, Vince Coleman, and the Kardashians. He also co-founded the websites LegalZoom, RightCounsel.com, and Shoedazzle.com. Beyond those, he’s a senior partner of his own law firm, Glaser Wail Fink Jacobs Howard Avchen & Shapiro, LLP.
Willie E. Gary Has Won 150 Multi-Million Dollar Lawsuits
Willie E. Gary is a civil rights attorney and TV executive who has won suits against influential corporations, including Anheuser-Busch and Disneyland. He has won over 150 multi-million dollar lawsuits and gained a fortune of $100 million. One of his most significant wins granted $500 million to his Mississippi client.
In 2008, Gary won a $23.6 billion verdict to clear RJ Reynolds of a wrongful death smoking case. It was the biggest verdict awarded at the time. Gary enjoys spending his fortune on nice things and owns a collection of cars that includes two Rolls Royces, and two private planes: Wings of Justice and Wings of Justice II.
Thailand’s Richest Lawyer Has $1.9 Billion
Wichai Thongtang is Thailand’s wealthiest attorney and the 13th richest person in his country. He earned his credentials from Thammasat University in 1970. Around this time, Thongtang began making smart investments in the stock market. He now owns a 25% stake in Cable Thai Holdings and a 15% stake in Bangkok Dusit Medical.
Of Thongtang’s $1.9 billion net revenue career, his most famous case was representing Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. He successfully defended the prime minister for his asset concealment case in 2001, which ascended Thongtang to celebrity status overnight.
The Most Musically-Savvy Lawyer
John Branca is both an entertainment lawyer and a music manager. He has represented over 30 names in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, including Aerosmith; The Rolling Stones; Michael Jackson; ZZ Top; Fleetwood Mac; The Doors, Earth, Wind and Fire; Carlos Santana; and The Beach Boys.
His other clients include Forbes magazine, Dr. Dre, Alicia Keys, Justin Timberlake, Playboy magazine, and Mike Tyson. With such strong relations to the music and publishing industries, it’s no wonder that Branca cherishes a $75 million fortune. In fact, Michael Jackson was Branca’s best man at his first wedding.
Roy Black: Celebrities’ Favorite Lawyer
As a civil and criminal defense lawyer, Roy Black has defended plenty of big names throughout Hollywood and politics. Most famously, he acquitted William Kennedy Smith of rape charges and defended Rush Limbaugh for the misuse of Oxycotin. He has a net worth of $65 million.
Black has also defended Girls Gone Wild creator Joe Francis, actor Kelsey Grammer, billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, artist Peter Max, and pop star Justin Bieber. He’s also a managing partner and makes special appearances on the reality show, The Law Firm.
Kenya’s Richest Lawyer, Jane Wanjiru Michuki
Jane Wanjiru Michuki is the wealthiest lawyer and stockholder in Kenya. As a managing partner of Kimani & Michuki Advocates, she defends some of the largest companies in the world. One example includes Equity Group Holdings Limited, the largest bank holding company in Africa that serves over 9 million customers.
On top of her career in law, Michuki gains much of her $60 million fortune from stocks. She is the largest female stockholder in the Nairobi Stock Exchange, which makes her one of the wealthiest people in Kenya.
A Lawyer In The Sports Executives Hall Of Fame
Joel Segal has settled the legal matters of at least 77 football players, including Justin Houston, Kawann Short, Trumaine Johnson, Khalil Mack, and Patrick Peterson. As a sports agent, he contracts an average of $250 million regularly for his clients. This has earned him a $40 million fortune.
Along with his career in law, Segal is also the president of Lagardere Unlimited Football. He was listed as one of the “Most Powerful Sports Agents” in both Forbes and Sports Business Journal. In 2011, Segal was inducted into the George Washington University Sports Executives Hall of Fame.
Mark Geragos: One Of The Most Influential California Attorneys
Mark Geragos is a criminal lawyer who has represented every big name from Chris Brown to Michael Jackson to Winona Ryder. In 1992, he graduated from Loyola Law School and has practiced as a criminal defense and civil litigation attorney ever since. As of 2019, Geragos earned a $25 million net worth.
Since 2008, Geragos has held a record for one of the top ten verdicts in California, where he obtained a jury verdict for over $37 million against German insurance companies. He currently runs Geragos and Geragos while living in his lavish home in La Canada Flintridge, California.
The Top Lawyer Of Last Resort
Alan Dershowitz has become a noted homicide lawyer while being the youngest Harvard professor of the 1960s. After graduating from Harvard Law in 1962, Dershowitz went on to win 13 out of 15 murder cases. As a result, he attained a reputation for being the “top lawyer of last resort.” His high-profile clients–O.J. Simpson, Jeffrey Epstein, and Mike Tyson, among a few–granted his $25 million net worth.
Dershowitz has written over a dozen books on law and served as a commentator on the Arabi-Israeli conflict. Since the 1970s, he has won five national and international awards for his defense of individual rights.
Michael Jackson’s Defense Attorney
Thomas Arthur Mesereau Jr. is another attorney who has defended many big celebrities. He is most famous for defending Michael Jackson in his 2005 molestation trial. Mesereau has also represented Mike Tyson, Claudia Haro, Suge Knight, Robert Blake, Joe Babajian, and Bill Cosby. He has a $25 million fortune.
Unlike other millionaire lawyers, Mesereau has defended death row convicts in Alabama and Mississippi for free. Every year, he opts to represent a capital murder case in the Deep South pro bono. For this, he has won many humanitarian awards.
Corporate America’s Number One Hired Gun
Since graduating from Yale in 1966, David Boies made a name for himself by serving as the Chief Counsel for the United States Senate. You may recognize him from successfully prosecuting Microsoft in United States v. Microsoft Corp. He also represented Al Gore in Bush v. Gore. In defending other big names such as Harvey Weinstein, the NBA, CBS, and the NFL, Boies amassed his $20 million fortune.
Fortune magazine calls Boies “corporate America’s number 1 hired gun” for his impressive success rate. Currently, he serves as the chairman of Boies, Schiller & Flexner and is a Board of Trustee for the National Constitution Center.
Divorce Court‘s Judge, Lynn Toler
Divorce Court fans likely recognize Lynn Toler as the show’s judge. Before she hit the big screen, though, Toler served as a municipal judge in Cleveland, Ohio, for eight years. Her cases included traffic crimes, civil lawsuits, misdemeanor, civil rights, and women’s rights. She owns a $15 million net worth.
Toler remained popular in Ohio, where she became known for her unconventional judgments, some in the form of handwritten essays. Later, she used this skill to pen two books. Toler has an undergraduate degree from Harvard and a Juris Doctor from the University of Pennsylvania Law School.
Judge Alex, Also Known As Alex Ferrer
Alex Ferrer is a retired judge who also starred in the 2014 reality show, Judge Alex. Before he practiced law, Ferrer worked as a police officer in Florida. As a lawyer, he worked with cases of civil litigation such as wrongful deaths, business prosecution, personal injuries, and medical malpractice. But it wasn’t until his career as a judge that Ferrer achieved a $15 million net worth.
Ferrer’s most famous trials include the Sun Gym Gang murder trials and Marc Schiller’s Medicare fraud. In 2018, Ferrer advanced his TV career by hosting the true-crime series Whistleblower.
Civil Rights Activist Lawyer Vernon Jordan
Since he left Howard University with honors in 1935, Vernon E. Jordan Jr. has enjoyed a long career as a lawyer and leading figure of the Civil Rights Movement. In the early 1990s, Jordan served as a political adviser to President Bill Clinton.
Jordan’s $12 million fortune came from his service on the boards of major companies such as J.C. Penny, Revlon, Sara Lee, American Express, and Xerox. In the past, he has directed the National Urban League, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and the United Negro College Fund.
Environment-Defender Erin Brockovich
Erin Brockovich has made her impact as an unofficial lawyer. Despite not having a degree in law, she built a foolproof case against the Pacific Gas and Electric Company in California, 1993. She has also worked on cases against Beverly Hills School District, Prime Tanning Corp., the city of Midland, Texas, and Southern California Gas.
Brockovich has appeared as a media personality by hosting Challenge America with Erin Brockovich and Final Justice. Her TV career likely contributed to her $10 million net worth. She has also received the Honorary Doctor of Laws from Lewis & Clark school and the Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Loyola University.