• Peter Robertson

2020 Legal Private Practice Salary Survey

Updated: Jan 14

A great time to move!


In amongst the uncertainty that surrounded Brexit, the legal private practice market has been both healthy and buoyant. We saw a strong end to 2019 with firms across London and the rest of the UK feeling (regardless of their thoughts on Brexit) that with a majority government, there comes a certain level of certainty. The expectation is that 2020 will be an even stronger year for hires across the board.


Firms throughout the UK are busy!


London and the surrounding areas, in particular, have kept us busy with recruitment across banking and finance, employment, corporate and real estate (including construction). And, on the contentious side, there has been a healthy appetite for litigators across a variety of disciplines. City firms and beyond have made no secret of the fact that they are continually busy and candidates, across PQEs, are feeling confident in the fact that the ‘last in, first out’ rule is not applicable due to high levels of work and impressive pipelines.


US firm pays £140,000 to NQs!


Of course, the market is helped when US and Magic Circle firms are all vying to outdo each other on salaries. 2019 was the year that saw the Magic Circle firms all offer newly qualifieds £100,000. Kirkland & Ellis and Vinson & Elkins are leading the way for the US firms in London, both offering NQs over £140,000. Weil Gotshal and Shearman & Sterling are not too far behind, both offering over £120,000. It is worth noting, however, that with the Magic Circle NQ salaries, most of them are including bonuses within the £100,000.


Salaries have risen across the board!


Silver Circle and Top City firms are also offering impressive salaries in comparison to what was being paid over the last two or three years. As an example, Travers Smith will pay up to £85,000 to their NQs. And, will also offer an impressive bonus which could take an NQ to in excess of £100,000. It’s food for thought and puts their offering well and truly on the map.


Over and above NQs, firms across the board have raised salaries. Whilst the percentage increase isn’t as high as the NQs, it is fair to say that a 2PQE solicitor at a Mid-sized firm, could earn around £80,000 in the last couple of years, but in 2020, at the high end could expect to be getting closer to £90,000.


Time to contact us!


It may just be curiosity that brought you to this blog. Or, it may be dread at the thought of spending another day in your current role or returning to your role after an extended break (here's some further thoughts on how to find time to start your job search). Inevitably, there will be many of you reading this because you feel that you aren’t getting the salary or package that you deserve. Salary isn’t everything, but it definitely helps and often the only way to increase it, is to move firm. So, if you want to know more, just understand the market a little better or would like to get access to all our roles, please contact Peter on peter@carterjay.co.uk or call him on 07834 436775.



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