5 Of The Most Financially Successful Lawyers In The World
Across the United States, the average salary of a lawyer varies widely, from $171,550 in California to $139,020 in New Jersey. Meanwhile, in the UK, the average salary for a lawyer comes in at just over £50,000. However, there are many legal professionals whose earnings go above and beyond these figures. Here are 5 of the most financially successful lawyers in the world.
1. Charlie Munger
While Charlie Munger is widely known as Warren Buffet’s partner at Berkshire Hathaway, he is also a Harvard educated lawyer. Munger flourished in law school, graduating magna cum laude with a JD in 1948, before joining Californian law firm, Wright & Garrett. By 1962, Munger had founded Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP, before deciding to give up the practice of law and instead focus on investment. Munger is currently worth an impressive $2.5 billion.
2. Wichai Thongtang
Wichai Thongtang is a billionaire corporate lawyer, often referred to as “one of the top names in the profession from around the globe.” Though he came from a humble farming family, Thongtang’s father was keen to see his children have a steadier future and encouraged his son to pursue a career in law. Thongtang graduated from Thammasat University in 1970 and practised law throughout the decade, representing Thai executives and their companies. In 2001, Thongtang successfully represented former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in an asset concealment case, catapulting him to celebrity status.
While Thongtang is still chairman of his eponymous international law firm, the majority of his wealth comes from strategic investment holdings acquired throughout his career. These include several hospital-related holdings and Thai cable company Cable Thai Holdings. Wichai Thongtang’s net worth currently stands at $1.8 billion.
3. Bill Neukom
Stanford Law School graduate Bill Neukom served as the lead lawyer for Microsoft for close to 25 years. He joined the company in 1985 and thereafter built up its corporate law department from 5 employees to over 600 attorneys and support personnel. Neukom later became Microsoft’s Executive Vice President and spent 17 years as the company’s general counsel and chief legal officer. Amongst his high-profile cases is the United States v. Microsoft Corp in 2001.
Neukom now primarily works as the founder, president and CEO of the World Justice Project, which he co-founded in 2006. The foundation’s mission is “to advance the rule of law around the world.” Neukom is currently worth an estimated $850 million.
4) Judith Sheindlin
Judge Judith Sheindlin, best known as “Judge Judy”, has come a long way in her legal career. Sheindlin graduated from American University in Washington DC with a Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring in government. She then finished her law school education at New York Law School, earning her Juris Doctor degree in 1965. After passing the New York state bar examination that same year, Sheindlin went on to work as a corporate lawyer for a cosmetics firm. In the 1970s, she became a prosecutor in the New York family court system, prosecuting child abuse cases, domestic violence, and juvenile crime. In 1996, Sheindlin’s syndicated court show Judge Judy debuted. Towards the end of Judge Judy’s 25-year run, Sheindlin was earning $47 million per year, with her estimated net worth currently sitting at $440 million.
5) Robert Shapiro
Robert Shapiro is our final legal professional whose earnings go above and beyond the average, with a total estimated net worth of around $100 million. Shapiro is best known for representing murderer Erik Menendez in 1990 and for being on the team responsible for exonerating OJ Simpson from the murders of Simpson’s ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ron Goldman in 1994. Throughout his career, Shapiro has also represented clients including Rockstar Energy Drinks and Johnny Carson and co-founded ShoeDazzle, LegalZoom, and RightCounsel.com.