A typical lawyer’s career is actually quite mundane. The vast majority of their time is spent on research and paperwork rather than in the courtroom. However, there are some individuals exempt from this, and they’ve built a massive fortune as a result. Below we cover the richest lawyers in the world and how they made their money.
Profiling the 20 Wealthiest Lawyers:
1. Wichai Thongtang – $1.9 Billion
Wichai Thongtang is a Thai business lawyer who became known for defending former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in a 2001 asset concealment case.
Thongtang received his law degree from Thammasat University and started practicing in the 1970s. He built up a strong reputation for successfully representing corporate executives and enterprises.
Apart from being a legal expert, Wichai made money through investing. Wichai made a sizable portion of his wealth from his minority ownership in Bangkok Dusit Medical Services. According to Forbes.com, Thongtang is now the richest lawyer on the planet and overtook Richard Scruggs in 2023.
2. Richard Scruggs – $1.7 Billion
The now disbarred trial lawyer Richard “Dickie” Scruggs is noted for specializing in tobacco and asbestos related lawsuits. He won more than $1 billion in judgments against big corporations.
Scruggs went to the University of Mississippi and joined the military after graduating. Once he finished his service in the army, he studied law at the University of Mississippi Law School.
Richard’s professional career was disrupted in 2007 when he was charged for bribing a judge. He was imprisoned for six years, but now that he’s back, Scruggs is worth $1.7 billion.
3. William Lerach – $900 Million
Another disbarred attorney, William Lerach, was one of the most feared legal professionals in the United States. Dubbed the “King of Pain”, he specialized in private security cases.
Lerach attended the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and targeted major companies after completing his studies. William once sued the former Vice President of the USA, Dick Cheney, and his company, Halliburton.
Lerach has the record for the biggest sum ever recovered in a collection of securities class action cases, with a $7.2 billion judgment against energy firm Enron. Although he got disbarred in 2009, he still owns a fortune of $900 million.
4. Bill Neukom – $850 Million
The founder and CEO of the non-profit organization World Justice Project, Bill Neukom is a practicing lawyer and rose to popularity because of his charitable efforts.
Upon getting his degree from Stanford Law School, he worked at a modest office until he was approached by Microsoft. Neukom served as the legal counsel for the tech company for 25 years.
Later on, he became the general partner of the San Francisco Giants in Major League Baseball. Bill left his position in 2012 and focused on philanthropy. Bill Neukom currently has an $850 million fortune.
5. Allan Myers – $588 Million
Allan Myers is a barrister, professor, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. Myers is from Australia and currently works as the University of Melbourne’s chancellor.
He is a graduate of the University of Melbourne but also studied civil law at the University of Oxford. Then, he practiced law while working as an educator at Melbourne Law School.
Allan eventually became a businessman, initially joining the board of directors of the brewery Grupa Żywiec. The Australian went on to pursue other business and philanthropy projects, which put his wealth at $588 million.
6. Judy Sheindlin – $440 Million
Popularly known as the beloved Judge Judy on CBS, Judy Sheindlin is a reality TV star and professional family court judge who has made a massive impact on courtroom programming.
Sheindlin started her legal education at Washington College of Law, where she was the only woman in her class. Judy went on to receive her degree at New York Law School.
Sheindlin started out as a corporate lawyer, but soon became weary of it and decided to work as a family court prosecutor. Judy was chosen as a criminal court judge in 1982 and sits on a fortune worth $440 million.
7. Felipe Gozon – $355 Million
Felipe Gozon is an attorney by profession but has made the majority of his fortune as head of the television network GMA Network, Inc. It’s one of the biggest media companies in the Philippines.
Gozon was a law student at the University of the Philippines and got a master’s degree at Yale University. Then, he became a senior partner in a law firm called Belo Gozon Elma Parel Asuncion & Lucila.
Felipe has been in charge of GMA Network, Inc. since 2000. He’s also been involved in other business projects in his country. Because of this, his fortune grew to $355 million.
8. Steuart Walton – $300 Million
Steuart built much of his wealth as a member of Walmart’s affluent Walton family. However, he also works as a lawyer and an entrepreneur, who’s done a lot for the family business.
He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Colorado Boulder and his law degree from Georgetown University Law Center. He started practicing law in Chile.
Later on, Steuart worked in the mergers and acquisitions division at Walmart. He founded the aircraft business Game Composites. This, and his other business pursuits, have helped Walton reach a $300 million net worth.
9. Willie E. Gary – $100 Million
Given the nickname “The Giant Slayer”, Willie E. Gary has a habit of challenging and winning against major corporations, such as Disney and Anheuser-Busch.
Willie initially studied business administration at Shaw University and later earned his degree in law from North Carolina Central University. His educational background helped him to become the lawyer he is today.
Gary was recognized for winning over 150 lawsuits that ended in multi-million dollar settlements, one of which culminated in a $500 million verdict. Willie E. Gary now has a net worth of $100 million.
10. Jerry Falwell Jr. – $100 Million
The former president and chancellor of Liberty University, Jerry Falwell Jr. played a big part in making the institution a powerhouse. He also works as a lawyer and real estate developer.
Jerry himself graduated from Liberty University and got his law degree from the University of Virginia. From 1987 to 2007, Falwell worked for a private practice.
In 2000, he was appointed to the Liberty University board of trustees. Jerry rose to higher ranks but ultimately stepped down due to sexual scandals. Even so, Falwell Jr is still left with over $100 million in wealth.
11. Robert Shapiro – $100 Million
Before moving away from criminal defense, Robert Shapiro was a practicing attorney and rose to prominence for his role in exonerating former football player O.J. Simpson in his murder case.
Shapiro was a finance student at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). He went to Loyola Marymount University’s Loyola Law School to earn his Juris Doctor.
During his long career, he became a prominent criminal defense lawyer. He is also the co-founder of Shoedazzle.com and LegalZoom, as well as the author of a children’s book. Shapiro’s net worth is estimated to be $100 million.
12. John Branca – $100 Million
One of the pioneers of entertainment law cases is John Branca, and he is largely responsible for Michael Jackson’s Thriller music video’s breakthrough. Branca is a music enthusiast who studied law at UCLA. Since the start of his career, Branca mostly represented rock and roll performers as well as independent record labels.
John has worked with Hall of Famers, such as Aerosmith, The Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, and The Doors. Helping artists has allowed him to get a $100 million net worth as reported by Wikipedia.org.
13. Roy Black – $85 Million
Roy Black is best known as the lawyer for William Kennedy Smith and Rush Limbaugh in two high-profile cases. With this, he became a famous civil and criminal defense attorney.
After graduating from the University of Miami, Roy helped create the law firm Black, Srebnick, Kornspan, & Stumpf. He grew to have the best national reputation in Florida.
His notable cases and a clean record made him the legal analyst for NBC’s The Today Show and ABC’s Good Mornings. He was also hired to teach in his alma mater. This is why Roy Black’s wealth is $85 million.
14. Amal Clooney – $50 Million
Amal Clooney is an attorney, author, and activist based in London. She has previously served in the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the United Nations. Amal is a graduate of NYU School of Law and interned with Judge Sonia Sotomayor while studying law.
Then, she handled cases both in the US and the UK. Throughout the years, Clooney has also represented the distinguished activist Julian Assange and the state of Cambodia. Amal accumulated a fortune worth more than $50 million.
15. William Barr – $50 Million
The 77th and 85th United States Attorney General, William Barr, started his professional career as a lawyer. However, his name is more known to the public as a government official in the Bush and Trump administrations.
Barr went to Columbia University for his bachelor’s degree. While studying for his master’s degree at the same school, he worked for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
He held his position as he studied law at George Washington University Law School. After graduating, Barr practiced law before focusing on government roles. William’s wealth is estimated to be $50 million.
16. David Boies – $50 Million
Former Chief Counsel for the US Senate David Boies is a lawyer who earned recognition in three infamous cases: United States v. Microsoft, Hollingsworth v. Perry, and Bush v. Gore.
Boies studied law at Yale University and quickly built an outstanding reputation after graduating. Boies has represented well-known corporations like Napster, IBM, Theranos and CBS.
David once worked for Cravath, Swaine & Moore. Now, he has his own law firm called Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP. His legal endeavors have awarded him a net worth of around $50 million.
17. George Conway – $39 Million
Aside from working as a lawyer, George Conway is a conservative political activist. He was considered for several government positions during the Trump administration, but he didn’t accept any positions.
Conway received his bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and his doctor’s degree from Yale University. His practice concentrated on mergers, stocks, acquisitions, contracts, and antitrust lawsuits.
He was initially considered a Republican, but went independent in 2018 when he criticized Donald Trump. As an attorney, George has an estimated net worth of $39 million.
18. Thomas Mesereau – $25 Million
Thomas Mesereau is a noteworthy trial lawyer in America, having won an unprecedented three federal criminal jury trials in a row. He is famed for taking cases with seemingly impossible odds.
After graduating from Harvard, he went on to study at the Hastings College of the Law and the London School of Economics. Mesereau has worked with celebrities including Michael Jackson, Mike Tyson, and Bill Cosby.
Every year, he defends a capital murder defendant who cannot afford legal counsel. In his other cases, he is paid a high hourly rate. This has helped him get a $25 million net worth.
19. Mark Geragos – $25 Million
Mark Geragos was one of the attorneys in command of a class-action lawsuit against New York Life and AXA. Geragos was also a regular legal consultant on Larry King Live and CNN.
Geragos graduated from Haverford College with a bachelor’s degree. He then attended Loyola Law School to study law. After this, Geragos became one of the most influential lawyers in California.
Furthermore, he has one of the top ten verdicts in California history for a 2008 lawsuit in which he got a jury verdict paying more than $38 million. His net worth is around $25 million today.
20. Alan Dershowitz – $20 Million
Alan Dershowitz was the youngest full professor to be recruited by Harvard Law School when he joined the institution at 28 years old. He had gained this honor because he was a very effective lawyer.
He is a graduate of Yale University. Specializing in constitutional and criminal law, Alan mostly represented disfavored clients in the cases he had throughout his career.
Dershowitz worked with people like O.J. Simpson, Donald Trump, Julian Assange, and Mike Tyson. He’s retired from his professor job, but is still an active lawyer with a $20 million fortune.