How Much Do Bankruptcy Lawyers Make? A Comprehensive Look

How Much Do Bankruptcy Lawyers Make? A Comprehensive Look 1

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Bankruptcy lawyers are legal professionals who specialize in assisting individuals and businesses navigate the complex process of declaring bankruptcy vs debt settlement. Their expertise is crucial in understanding the intricacies of bankruptcy law and ensuring that their client’s financial futures are protected. But how much do these specialized lawyers make? In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the earnings of bankruptcy lawyers, considering the various factors that impact their salaries.


Understanding the Role of a Bankruptcy Lawyer

Before delving into earnings, it’s essential to understand the role of a bankruptcy lawyer. This legal professional guides clients through the bankruptcy process, providing legal advice on the most appropriate type of bankruptcy to file, offering insight on potential alternatives to bankruptcy, and handling the necessary paperwork and court procedures.

Given the complexities and nuances involved, bankruptcy lawyers are often seen as a lifeline for those struggling with overwhelming debt, making their role both challenging and rewarding.

Factors Influencing Bankruptcy Lawyers’ Salaries

How Much Do Bankruptcy Lawyers Make? A Comprehensive Look

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Several factors contribute to the amount a bankruptcy lawyer can earn. These include:


Just like any other profession, experience plays a significant role in the earning potential of a bankruptcy lawyer. Those with years of experience under their belt tend to command higher fees than those just starting out in their careers.

Geographical Location

The geographical location of a lawyer’s practice also significantly influences their salary. For instance, bankruptcy lawyers operating in urban areas or states with high costs of living typically charge higher rates compared to those practicing in rural areas or regions with lower living costs.

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Reputation and Specialization

A lawyer’s reputation, built by their track record, can greatly influence their earnings. Those who have established themselves as experts in certain types of bankruptcy cases and have a history of successful outcomes are likely to attract more clients and command higher fees.

Type of Bankruptcy Cases Handled

There are several types of bankruptcy (Chapter 7, Chapter 11, Chapter 13), each with varying degrees of complexity. The type of cases a lawyer handles can influence their earning potential. More complex cases, such as corporate bankruptcies under Chapter 11, often come with higher legal fees.

How Much Do Bankruptcy Lawyers Make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median pay for lawyers in 2020 was $126,930 per year. However, bankruptcy lawyers, given their specialization, often earn more than the median. While the exact figures vary based on the factors discussed above, Payscale reports that the average salary for a bankruptcy lawyer in the United States is around $113,000 as of 2021. Lawyers with a solid reputation and vast experience, especially those working in big law firms or major cities, could earn well into six figures.


In conclusion, bankruptcy lawyers can earn quite a substantial income due to the specialized nature of their work. Their earnings are influenced by factors such as their level of experience, geographical location, reputation, and the types of bankruptcy cases they handle. Despite the demanding nature of their job, the financial reward can be quite satisfying. As with all professions, continued learning, gaining experience, and building a strong reputation are key to maximizing earnings in the field of bankruptcy law.


How Much Do Bankruptcy Lawyers Make? A Comprehensive Look 2

What is the average salary of a bankruptcy attorney?

The average salary for a bankruptcy attorney in the United States is around $114,000 per year. However, this figure can vary widely depending on experience, geographic location, and the complexity of the cases handled.

How does experience affect a bankruptcy attorney’s earnings?

Experience plays a significant role in determining a bankruptcy attorney’s earnings. More experienced lawyers often charge higher rates due to their extensive knowledge and proficiency in the field.

Do bankruptcy lawyers in urban areas make more money?

Generally, bankruptcy attorneys may earn more in urban areas, due to higher costs of living and potentially larger client bases. However, competition can also be stiffer in these areas.

How does the complexity of a case affect a bankruptcy lawyer’s fees?

The more complex the case, the higher the fees a bankruptcy lawyer can charge. This is because complex cases require more time, effort, and specialized knowledge.

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How much do bankruptcy lawyers charge per hour?

Bankruptcy lawyers’ hourly rates can range from $200 to $450 or more. This depends on their level of experience, the complexity of the case, and geographic location.

Are bankruptcy lawyers paid upfront or after the case?

Bankruptcy lawyers typically require payment upfront for Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases. For Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases, they may accept part of their fees through the repayment plan.

Do bankruptcy lawyers have a steady income?

The income of bankruptcy lawyers can fluctuate based on the number of clients they have, the complexity of the cases they handle, and economic conditions (more bankruptcies tend to occur during economic downturns).

What factors can significantly increase a bankruptcy lawyer’s income?

Factors such as specializing in complex corporate bankruptcies, having a large client base, possessing extensive experience, and working in urban areas with higher costs of living can significantly increase a bankruptcy lawyer’s income.

Do solo practitioner bankruptcy lawyers make less than those in law firms?

Not necessarily. While lawyers in large firms often earn high salaries, solo practitioners have the potential to earn more per case since they don’t have to share fees with a firm. However, they also bear all the business-related expenses.

Do bankruptcy lawyers make more money during an economic recession?

Often, yes. Economic downturns often lead to increased bankruptcy filings, which can result in more work for bankruptcy lawyers. However, there’s also a risk that clients won’t be able to pay their fees.


  • Bankruptcy: A legal status where an individual or business cannot repay the debts they owe to creditors.
  • Bankruptcy lawyer: A legal professional specializing in guiding individuals or businesses through the complex process of filing for bankruptcy.
  • Chapter 7 bankruptcy: A type of bankruptcy where the debtor’s non-exempt assets are liquidated to pay off as much debt as possible.
  • Chapter 13 bankruptcy: A type of bankruptcy where the debtor makes a plan to repay all or part of their debts over three to five years.
  • Credit counseling: A type of advice given by professional counselors to help individuals manage their debt and budget their finances.
  • Creditors: Individuals or institutions to whom money is owed.
  • Debt discharge: The dismissal of debts in a bankruptcy case, meaning the debtor is no longer legally required to pay them.
  • Debtors: Individuals or entities that owe money to creditors.
  • Filing fee: The cost required to file for bankruptcy in court.
  • Means test: A financial assessment used to determine if an individual qualifies for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
  • Non-exempt assets: Assets that are not protected under bankruptcy law and can be used to repay creditors.
  • Pro bono: Legal work done for free or at a reduced cost for those who cannot afford it.
  • Retainer fee: An upfront cost paid to a lawyer to secure their services before work begins.
  • Secured debt: Debt backed by an asset, such as a house or car, which can be taken by the creditor if the debt is not repaid.
  • Unsecured debt: Debt not backed by an asset, such as credit card debt or medical bills.
  • Trustee: A person or institution appointed in bankruptcy cases to manage the debtor’s assets.
  • Wage garnishment: A court order that allows a creditor to take a portion of an individual’s income to pay off debts.
  • Liquidation: The process of turning assets into cash to pay off debts.
  • Bankruptcy petition: The document filed with the court to initiate a bankruptcy case.
  • Automatic stay: An order that halts creditors from trying to collect debts from a debtor who has filed for bankruptcy.

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