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  Trial Lawyers Are America's Small Businesses



Business groups often claim that trial lawyers are a threat to small businesses. The truth is that most trial lawyers are small businesses. Here are the facts:

The Small Business Administration defines a small business as "one that is independently owned and operated and which is not dominant in its field of operation."1

  • A 2002 survey of the ATLA membership shows that 34% of all ATLA members are sole practitioners—and a full 75% are in firms of fewer than 5 lawyers.2
  • This puts ATLA members directly in line with the 600,000 members of the National Federation of Independent Business—55% of which have five employees or fewer while 72% have fewer than 10 employees.3

Trial lawyers hardly dominate the profession economically, either.

  • Contract filings, which are more likely to involve businesses than tort cases, rose by 21% over the same period.7
    According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the mean annual earnings for all lawyers in the United States is $108,700. ATLA's survey shows that almost a third of ATLA members earn less than $100,000 annually.
  • And 20% earn under $75,000—which puts them on a par with the average American elementary and secondary school administrator.4

Since small businesses represent 40 percent of the U.S. Gross Domestic product and 98 percent of the new businesses in America,5 ATLA members not only represent small business, they support the American economy and help it flourish.



  1. Small Business Act [Public Law 85-536, § 3 (a) (1)],
  2. ATLA Membership Survey, 2002.
  3. U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, National employment and wage data survey May 2003. See here.


Republished with permission of the Associationof Trial Lawyers of America.