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How Much Do Lawyers Get Paid to Argue at SCOTUS?

By George Khoury, Esq. | Last updated on

Have you ever dreamed of arguing a case before the U.S. Supreme Court? If you're a lawyer, you probably have, but you might not have ever been motivated enough to pursue that dream.

Well, bad news first: If you've never done a SCOTUS case before, you might have to eat your fees the first few times, or maybe until you actually have a case accepted for review. But, if you can get some experience and become one of those elite attorneys that seem to make annual appearances before the High Court, you could be looking at a real nice pay day, whether you win, lose, or draw.

Attorney Rates for SCOTUS Work

Reportedly, the best, private Supreme Court attorneys will likely charge in the neighborhood of $1,000 per hour.

However, this is balanced by the fact that often, when the government is defending a case, the attorney handling the matter will be a salaried employee. Additionally, large firms that pride themselves on hearing prestigious cases with national import will often volunteer to handle SCOTUS appeals pro bono. This is done to attract the highest paying clients that tend to correlate the firm arguing at the Supreme Court with prestige.

SCOTUS Case Costs

Preparing a case for the U.S. Supreme Court is not for the faint of wallet. Though the filing costs are modest, as is the fee for attorney admission to the bar, preparing the petition, the record, and the briefing can range from $100,000 to $250,000.

Fortunately, a bulk of these costs will likely be in attorney time, which, as you unfortunately know all too well, can be temporarily deferred on the hope that you win and can get your fees. But, the catch is that the likelihood of your case being accepted is slim to none. However, if your case is accepted and you get to argue, you may want to take out a loan to pay the new employee you'll need to hire to answer all those potential client phone calls you'll be getting.

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