Insurance lawyers guide insurance companies through the legal tap dance of writing insurance policies to ensure the rules and regulations in effect are lawful in the event a client sues. Twenty-six percent of lawyers either operate their own practices or act as partners of an established practice. Those who work specifically for one insurance client are called "house council." Salaries are based on location and experience.
U.S. Average Salary
The national average salary in 2010 for insurance lawyers was $62.23 an hour, or $129,440 a year, says the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Salaries reported that year fluctuated from the 10th percentile at $54,130 a year, to the 75th percentile at $165,470. The 90th percentile wage for insurance lawyers in 2010 has yet to be released by the BLS.
State Highs and Lows
The top three wage-earning locations for insurance lawyers in 2010 were the District of Columbia at $162,830 a year, California at $155,740 a year and Delaware at $151,750 a year. According to the BLS, Montana ranked as the lowest salary-earning state at $76,080 a year. Other states with averages below the national average included South Dakota at $81,090, North Dakota at $81,180 and West Virginia at $92,810.
Starting salaries vary by the type of law firm an insurance lawyer chooses to work for. In 2007, a survey conducted by the BLS showed insurance lawyers who graduated only nine months prior earned $68,500 a year on average. Those who worked for the government earned $50,000 a year while those who worked in private practice earned $108,500 a year.
Each state has a different list of requirements for insurance lawyers, but the general educational requirements include four years of college followed by three years of law school. Students must pass a Law School Admission Test and possess a bachelor's degree to gain entry. The first half of law school is spent covering core subjects such as constitutional law, civil procedure and property law. The second half covers the student's chosen specialty, which, in this case, is insurance. Students must bass the bar exam after completing law school to obtain licensure.
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