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27 January 2016

Research reveals which legal specialisms bring home the bacon

Banking and finance specialisms continue to secure higher salaries for junior lawyers, while in-house positions struggle to deliver the dough offered by firms.

By Kathryn Higgins


Research from crowdsourced pay data platform Emolument has shown how legal specialisms can have a significant impact on the earning potential of early-career lawyers. According to Emolument data, associate lawyers in the UK will earn on average £55,000 more per year if they work in leveraged and acquisition finance (£90,000) than if they work for private clients (£45,000). Staying close to the private sector, and particularly the financial services industry, appears to be a sure ticket to higher salaries. Associates specialising in investment funds (£82,000), derivatives and structured finance (£72,000) and compliance and regulation (£70,000) far out-muster the salaries of their counterparts in taxation and trusts, employment and pension and commercial law, all of which average on or below £55,000 per year.

In-house lags

Overall, Emolument's data pool shows that base salaries for junior lawyers in the UK have dropped by around 40 per cent over the last few years. However, law firms are still offering the most competitive remuneration for lawyers at all levels. For juniors with fewer than four years of experience, working for a firm increases average salary by £8,000 per year when compared to an in-house position, from £30,000 to £38,000. The exception appears to be in-house lawyers employed by banking and finance companies, who beat their law firm counterparts with an average annual salary of £50,000. The gap between firms and in-house teams widens further still for later-career lawyers. While the average salary for lawyers with more than 15 years' experience in-house is £70,000, law firm contemporaries are making substantially more at £97,000 per year. Sources: ValueWalkEmolument

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