Most Lucrative: Health Law

Another area with lots of headlines and good pay? Health care.

More people than ever before have access to health insurance. Since the Affordable Care Act went into effect, an estimated 20 million formerly uninsured people have received health insurance, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The industry is in the middle of enormous change. This includes the digitization of health records, billing for medical outcomes rather than procedures, increased medical tourism and an overall trend of consolidation and specialization, especially because of rising overhead costs. The implication of these changes creates more work for lawyers, particularly in areas of fraud, insurance and antitrust litigation.

Additionally, biotechnology and patient care research continue to expand rapidly.

“The health care industry is expanding and so is the need for related legal services,” Robert Half Legal’s report said. Volkert said his recruiters have been getting many requests for lawyers with health care experience.

Health law also includes work in several related areas.

In Robert Denney’s 2015 “What’s Hot and What’s Not in the Legal Profession” report, health law remained a hot area, and firms are moving toward forming industry groups that include multiple practice groups. Health care includes at least 15 areas, from finance and regulatory law to labor and employment.

CounselLink’s report found that health care regulatory and compliance law was one of the areas with the highest partner hourly rates, at $560 per hour.

PayScale reported that attorneys in health law could see a boost of 7 percent over the median attorney pay.

According to a 2013 report by search firm Major Lindsey & Africa and General Counsel Metrics, in-house lawyers in medical devices and pharmaceuticals are among the highest paid, with a median compensation of $423,000.

Expect the changes in health care to continue.

“There’s not a lot of really experienced practitioners, since it’s in such flux and it’s developing,” Fontaine said.