Written by Aaron R. Winston
Last Updated: January 17, 2024 8:18am CST
Although being a lawyer has its pros and cons, law can undoubtedly be a very lucrative profession in the United States.
Some attorneys have leveraged their legal knowledge, work ethic, unique talents, and entrepreneurial spirit to accumulate substantial wealth, which is the focus of this list.
Our team at Express Legal Funding wrote and designed this guide to present a detailed look at the richest lawyers in America, their career paths, and the history of how they built their fortunes.
With that said, let’s get started.
Who Are the Richest Lawyers In the United States?
Let’s answer the question of who the top 10 richest attorneys in the United States are by beginning our list with the American lawyer with the highest net worth.
#1 Jerry Reinsdorf: The Chicago Sports Magnate ($2.4 Billion)
Billionaire Jerry Reinsdorf (born on February 25, 1936) graduated from George Washington University Law School in 1960 and started a private law practice in 1964.
Real Estate and Tax Lawyer
His specialty as a lawyer during his early business career focused on arranging real estate tax shelters for his clients.
Although Reinsdorf had great success in real estate and construction, he is best known for his flourishing investments in the sports world.
Owner of the Chicago Bulls and White Sox
He is the owner of both the Chicago White Sox (professional baseball) and the Chicago Bulls (professional basketball.
Under his leadership as owner, the Bulls won an incredible six NBA Championships, with star player Michael Jordan, and the Chicago White Sox won Major League Baseball’s World Series in 2005, snapping the team’s 88-year World Series victory drought. According to Forbes,
Jerry Reinsdorf has a net worth of approximately $2.4 billion and is the richest attorney in the United States.
#2 Peter Angelos: Mass Tort and Product Liability Titan ($2 Billion)
Billionaire lawyer and baseball executive Peter Angelos (born on July 4, 1929) is the majority owner of the Major League Baseball team, the Baltimore Orioles. He earned his law degree from the University of Baltimore School of Law and passed the state bar in 1961.
Angelos primarily made his fortune through successful litigation against defendants in product liability lawsuits and was retained on a contingency fee basis (a no-win, no-pay attorney paid from recovery).
Notable Peter Angelos Legal Successes and Attorney Fee Amounts
- Asbestos Lawsuit Settlement: According to Gale Research’s 1995 edition of its Newsmakers series, Peter Angelos’s attorney’s fee was $330 million for one MDL asbestos poisoning claim that involved his suing on behalf of 8,700 workers and factory employees.
- Big Tobacco Lawsuit Settlement: According to Lawyer Barons: What Their Contingency Fees Really Cost America by Professor of Law Lester Brinkman, Aneglos was paid $150 million over five years for the legal fee he was owed for representing the state of Maryland in a 1996 lawsuit against the tobacco companies. That was after the legislature already cut his percentage-based attorney’s fee by half.
Peter Angelos’ successful career as a trial lawyer has led him to have an estimated net worth of $2 billion.
#3 Bill Neukom: Microsoft’s Original Lead Lawyer ($850 Million)
Attorney Bill Neukom (born in 1942) is an experienced and well-rounded corporate lawyer, past president of the American Bar Association, and best known for being the head general counsel at Microsoft.
After receiving his law degree from Stanford Law School in 1967, he served as a clerk for a King County Superior Court judge through 1968.
In 1978, soon after joining Shidler McBroom & Gates (now K&L Gates) in Seattle, Neukom was hired as outside legal counsel by the then-small startup Microsoft per the request of Bill Gates Sr., a founder and managing partner of the law firm.
In 1985, Neukom left the firm to be employed as in-house general counsel by Microsoft.
He was the computer software company’s lead lawyer until 2002, with the official job title of Executive Vice President of Law and Corporate Affairs.
In his general counsel role, he managed and protected Microsoft’s intellectual property law rights and defended the software company in antitrust claims.
He served as CEO and general managing partner for the ownership group that bought Major League Baseball’s San Francisco Giants between 2008 and 2011. During that period, the team won the World Series (2010).
According to the ABA Journal, Bill Neukom’s net worth is $850 million.
#4 Clive Davis: Record Producer and Executive ($850 Million)
Music executive Clive Davis (born on April 4, 1932) is a successful record producer and is currently the Chief Creative Officer of Sony Music Entertainment.
Davis graduated from Harvard Law School in 1956, where he studied on a full scholarship.
Davis initially practiced law in a small firm in New York before joining a law firm called Rosenman, Colin, Kaye, Petschek, and Freund, where CBS was a client.
Soon after joining the law firm, he made his first foray into the music business when he was hired as Columbia Records’ (a subsidiary of CBS) assistant counsel. By the age of 29, he was the general counsel of Columbia Records.
President of Columbia Records and CEO of RCA Music Group
He was the President of Columbia Records from 1967 through 1973 and the CEO of RCA Music Group from 2002 until early 2008.
During his still ongoing record-producing career, Clive Davis won five Grammies and signed major singing and music talent, like artists Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, and Whitney Houston, to name a few.
Davis’ net worth is estimated to be $850 million.
#5 Judith Sheindlin: TV’s Judge Judy ($440 Million)
Known to the general public as Judge Judy, Judith Sheindlin (born on October 21, 1942) is a television personality and court show arbitrator.
She earned her Juris Doctor degree from New York Law School in 1965.
Soon afterward, Sheindlin started her law career as a corporate lawyer employed by a cosmetics company for less than two years before leaving the role to focus on raising her two children.
In 1972, Sheindlin became a prosecutor in the New York family court system, followed by her appointment as a criminal court judge by then New York City Mayor Ed Koch.
Sheindlin’s fame skyrocketed after being featured on the TV show “60 Minutes,” which quickly led to her being offered the television judge role she is now famous for.
Judith Sheinlin is included in the Forbes Self-Made American Women list with an estimated net worth of $480 million.
#6 Steuart Walton: Walmart Heir and Attorney ($300 Million)
Steuart Walton received a Juris Doctor degree from Georgetown University Law Center in 2004.
After spending a brief period working for Republican Senator Peter Fitzgerald, Walton practiced law in Santiago, Chile, before going to work as a lawyer at the London-based headquarters of Allen & Overy, a multinational law firm, where he worked for a few years.
He ended his stint at the Alan & Overy in 2010 when he left to work for Walmart’s mergers and acquisitions division while still residing in London.
Three years later, in 2013, Steuart Walton resigned from his position at the M&A Walmart division and founded a composite aircraft manufacturer called Game Composites.
The company operates out of a facility located at the Bentonville Airport. Composites are lightweight and sturdy, which can enhance an aircraft’s impact absorption, reducing the odds of pilots and passengers dying in plane crashes.
Co-founded RZC Investments With Brother Tom Walton
He co-founded and owns RZC Investments, a venture capital company, alongside his brother Tom Walton.
He has been married to actress and model Kelly Rohrbach since 2019. They live in Bentonville, Arkansas, with their son, Lawrence.
The estimated net worth of Steuart Walton is reported to be $300 million on multiple celebrity net worth tracker sites.
According to Forbes, the real Walmart wealth is shared among multiple Walton family members and is estimated to be around $240 Billion.
#7 Robert Shapiro: Attorney and Entrepreneur ($120 million)
American lawyer Robert Shapiro (Born in 1942) is an entrepreneur born in Plainfield, New Jersey.
Shapiro obtained his law degree and Juris Doctorate from Loyola Law School in Los Angeles in 1968.
Defense Lawyer On O.J. Simpson’s “Dream Team”
Shapiro is best known for and rose to celebrity status by being a member of the “Dream Team,” the group of lawyers who served as the legal defense for Hall of Fame football player O.J. Simpson while he was on trial for two murders (Simpon was accused of killing Nicole Brown-Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman).
The 1994 criminal trial was broadcast live on television from inside a Los Angeles courtroom and captivated the attention of people throughout the world.
Overall, Shapiro has had a very successful legal career representing many prominent and wealthy clients.
Robert Shapiro co-founded multiple companies, including:
Cofounder of Three Internet and E-commerce Companies
- ShoeDazzle is a California-based online fashion subscription service that was also co-founded by media personality and socialite Kim Kardashian. The ShoeDazzle.com eCommerce site presents a monthly selection of shoes, handbags, and jewelry curated to the fashion preferences of its customers.
- Legal Zoom is a successful American online legal technology and services company that is publicly traded on the Nasdaq. The Glendale, California-based Legal Zoom platform seeks to democratize the legal industry by helping consumers build legal documents without needing to retain an attorney for the task.
- RightCounsel.com is a multi-law firm lead generation website founded by Robert Shapiro. The company seeks to gain the trust of site visitors by associating its services and mission with Shapiro’s name and lawyer celebrity status.
From an objective financial perspective, Legal Zoom is the most successful of the companies, as its current market cap is worth more than 2 billion dollars.
According to Biglaw Investor, Robert Shapiro’s net worth is $120 million.
#8 John Branca: Publishing and Entertainment Lawyer ($100 million)
High-profile entertainment and corporate lawyer John Branca (born on December 11, 1950) is best known for being the manager of singer Michael Jackson.
Branca was born into a family of entertainers and performers. His mother, Barbara Werle, was a singer and actress who danced on the Ed Sullivan Show. Her name is listed on the acting credits for her performances in three Elvis Presley movies released between 1965 and 1969.
His father was the New York State Athletic Commissioner.
His paternal uncle, Ralph Branca, pitched for the Brooklyn Dodgers and was one of the early supporters of teammate Jackie Robinson (the first African American to play in Major League Baseball).
John Branca graduated from the UCLA School of Law in 1975 and was hired by Michael Jackson to be his manager only five years later. He continued providing legal advice to artist Michael Jackson until Jackson died in 2009.
Co-executor and Co-manager of the Michael Jackson Estate
At that time, he became the co-executor of the Michael Jackson Estate and brand, which a court ruled was worth $111 million in 2021.
Has 30-plus Legal Clients Inducted Into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Branca is a music industry lawyer with an impressive track record of representing rock and roll artists and groups. He is a partner and the head of the music department for Ziffren Brittenham LLP, a Los Angeles-based law firm.
John Branca’s list of 30-plus clients inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame includes the following acts:
- The Rolling Stones
- The Jackson 5
- ZZ Top
- Fleetwood Mac
- Bee Gees
The Los Angeles Business Journal reports that John Branca has a net worth of $100 million.
Bonus: America’s Wealthiest Lawyers In Memoriam
Despite not making our list of the top eight wealthiest lawyers in the United States, we have included the following lawyers in an honorable posthumous mentions list.
The estimated net worths are substantial fortunes and are based on the value of their estates at the time of their deaths.
#9 Charlie Munger: Vice Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway ($2.6 billion)
Although businessman and investor Charlie Munger (January 1, 1924 – November 2023) is best known for being the Vice Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, he was also a lawyer who received a Juris Doctor from Harvard.
He spent his early career practicing law as a real estate lawyer in California.
Munger generated most of his fortune through his career working alongside Warren Buffett (CEO) at Berkshire Hathaway.
He owned more than $2.2 billion worth of Berkshire Hathaway Class A stock shares at the time of his passing.
His success and reputation as a wise and principled investor continue to make him a highly respected and regularly quoted figure in the business and investment community.
An article in the Los Angeles Times quotes Munger as saying,
Good businesses are ethical businesses.
According to Forbes, Charlie Munger had an estimated net worth of $2.6 billion at the time of his death.
#10 Joe Jamail: “Wealthiest Practicing Attorney In America” ($1.7 Billion)
Billionaire personal injury lawyer Joe Jamail (October 19, 1925 – December 23, 2015) is known for his record-breaking verdicts and settlements. He was often referred to as the “King of Torts” due to his being the wealthiest practicing attorney in America.
In 1953, Jamail graduated from The University of Texas School of Law with a Juris Doctor.
During his six-decade-long lawyer career, Joe Jamail and his clients have celebrated hundreds of court verdicts worth at least $1 million, and of those verdicts, five were for more than $100 million each.
Pennzoil Company vs. Texaco, INC. Litigation Lawyer
He obtained a $10.53 billion verdict on behalf of Pennzoil. The judgment included $7.53 billion in actual damages and $3 billion as punitive damages.
The successful lawsuit’s complaint alleged that Texaco damaged Pennzoil by tortiously inducing Getty to breach a contract to sell its shares to Pennzoil. Jamail earned an attorney’s contingency fee for over $330 million from the verdict against Texaco.
At the time of Joe Jamail’s death in 2015, Forbes estimated his net worth to be $1.7 billion.
In conclusion, About the Wealthiest Lawyers In America
The legal profession can be incredibly lucrative for those with the right skills, drive, and, sometimes, a bit of luck.
This list of the richest lawyers in America illustrates the diverse paths to wealth within the field, from traditional litigation to sports team ownership to arbitration court television fame.
Each of these individuals has used their legal expertise as a springboard to financial success, proving that a law degree can open the door to a multitude of unique opportunities and career paths.
Moreover, Author Aaron Winston, who works as Strategy Director for Express Legal Funding, wrote this list of top rich attorneys in America to provide insight and act as proof.
It shows that if your goal is to become a high-net-worth lawyer, you have no reason to think it’s an impossible aspiration.
The ten attorneys on this list are objectively wealthy and combine to have several billions of dollars as a total net worth.
We hope you found this a valuable resource about the richest lawyers in the United States and encourage you to read more of our industry-leading pre-settlement funding company blog and website content.
About the Author
Aaron Winston is the Strategy Director of Express Legal Funding. As "The Legal Funding Expert," Aaron has more than ten years of experience in the consumer finance industry. Most of which was as a consultant to a top financial advisory firm, managing 400+ million USD in client wealth. He is recognized as an expert author and researcher across multiple SEO industries.
Aaron Winston earned his title "The Legal Funding Expert" through authoritative articles and blog posts about legal funding. He specializes in expert content writing for pre-settlement funding and law firm blogs.
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Aaron was born in Lubbock, TX, where he spent the first eight years of his life. Aaron attended Akiba Academy of Dallas, TX.