From the winter issue: Over the last five years, demand for real estate attorneys has picked up, as have starting salaries.
The Real Deal spoke with industry veterans and dug into public records to get a sense of wages earned. With commission-based occupations, income can vary by the size of deals conducted, how fees are structured and level of experience. Other jobs in real estate offer salaries, which can also differ hugely from firm to firm.
So how much do real estate attorneys typically make?
Real estate attorney Kopelowitz said the demand and the increase in salaries are directly related to the activity in the residential market, which is significantly higher than a few years ago, even if sales themselves have slowed in the last few quarters.
“Interest rates are low, and it’s an attractive time to be a buyer or to refinance an existing loan,” he said.
At top firms, a new real estate lawyer can earn up to $160,000 a year, said Joe Ankus, owner of Ankus Consulting, a South Florida legal recruiting firm. At smaller, local firms, starting salaries are closer to $80,000, Kopelowitz said.
“A more experienced lawyer can earn in excess of $1 million at the partner level, but usually because he has a $3 million book of business,” Ankus said. “Once you are past the associate stage, law firms look at the clients you are bringing in and not just whether you are doing the work.”
Ankus said midlevel real estate attorneys earn from $175,000 to as much as $250,000.
“Compensation for midlevel attorneys is always going to be a function of their gross revenue. If they bring in $750,000 of revenue, they can earn 30 to 35 percent of it,” Ankus said.
Click here to read more of “Making bank?” from The Real Deal South Florida‘s winter issue.