The Lawyer has compiled 2018 trainee solicitor salary and newly-qualified (NQ) solicitor salary data of the UK’s largest law firms in two easy-to-use tables.
The latest salary figures are a reflection of the influence of American firms on the UK market. When Bingham McCutchen became the first firm to offer NQs £100,000 in London back in 2010, it seemed a shockingly high amount. Now, the top of the market is approaching £150,000 and more than a dozen firms offer the magic £100k.
The magic circle and other large international firms are having trouble keeping paces. Most have far more trainees compared to their US rivals and simply cannot afford to pay every one of them such high salaries. With this in mind, they are having to think of other ways to attract and retain talent. It is probably no coincidence that flat-rate NQ salaries are beginning to disappear at the largest firms. Many now talk about ‘salary bands’ with high performers able to earn much more than base pay. This acts as an incentive to aim for top dollar but a cynic might note it also handily obscures the actual amount the ‘average’ NQ will earn.
Salaries are rising in the London mid-tier and in the regions too, though this is less about competing with the Americans as a healthy legal sector in general. After the pay cuts of a decade ago, followed by years of freezes, law firm salaries have been motoring for a few years now and this shows no sign of stopping… though of course the same was true in 2007. With Brexit round the corner, plus an increasing number of ominous whispers that another crash is about due, perhaps it’s worth making hay while the sun shines.