What fields of law pay the most?

| General


It is well known that lawyers are some of the highest earners in the UK. But, before you are quick to consider a job role change, there are many aspects to factor in!

When applying or simply looking at roles, many candidates fail to look beyond the job description and only focus on potential earnings and commuting costs. Below are some factors to consider:

  • The location of your firm.

This has a direct effect on the pound signs you imagine in your head before and after tax! Lawyers, both qualified or unqualified at various levels of their profession, earn different salaries inside and outside of London. In June 2022, Prospects reported that “firms in London pay trainees above and beyond the recommended minimum”. This statement was in relation to Magic Circle firms such as Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance etc. which fall within the salary region of £470,500 to £50,000, following a salary increase once trainees had completed second year. This is considerably lower compared to areas such as Scotland where the recommended rate is £20,500 for first year trainees and, £23,750 in the second year. Without needing to do that maths, the pay gap is very clear!

  • The second factor to consider is the area of law you work in.

The area of law you specialise in will reflect in your income. The most profitable area of law falls in-between commercial and corporate law. 

  • This leads onto the type of firm you would like to work for.

You will also need to consider if you would like to work in a private or public sector. You may ask yourself why does this matter? Well based on research, public legal matters are usually in relation to immigration and family, which is ranked one of the lowest paid areas. Whereas private tends to be solicitors based in the UK who work for US-based firms in London who tackle high value cases.

Like many other professions stereotypes come into play …. It is clear lawyers working in financial related fields earn the most while lawyers in the public sector get paid the least. The explanation for the difference in salaries falls directly in line with the financial crisis and rules surrounding financial regulations. 

What does earning a high salary mean realistically?

Most lawyers put in more than just 30-40 hours a week especially in private practice firms. In short, lawyers earn and work so much because there is so much work to do. There, day-to -day obligations include meeting billable hours, managing their clients, attending court, preparing for cases, and so much more. Individuals inside and outside of the law profession should factor in and consider that the high earning salary comes at a cost. 

Addressing the “catch-up cycle”

If your someone who enjoys family time and your weekends, then this part is for you. According to the Legal Trends Report, in 2018, 77% of lawyers worked beyond their regular business hours to catch up on work that hadn’t been completed during the day. While time management may be your speciality, you also must consider your clients and service you provide. Most lawyers work outside of the office so they can be available for their clients. 

Sustainability vs money

Working long hours will inevitably lead to burnout which can be a domino effect on one’s personal life outside of the office. 

Before applying to that role or committing to any profession, factors discussed should be considered as well as the salary as this will impact your day-to-day activities.

By Mary Kukoyi

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