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Factors affecting salary in legal

Our average salaries are calculated using job titles from Michael Page placements and advertised roles in the last 12 months. Despite being a large recruiter of qualified legal professionals in the UK, our data still only provides a general overview of salary levels.
Below is a brief explanation of some additional factors that may also affect salary levels.  For more detailed information, please contact your local specialist.

Post qualified experience

Private practice
Within private practice, your PQE will have a significant bearing on your salary. Most lawyers receive their first meaningful pay increase upon qualification. Beyond that, most firms operate an annual increase (which is set or banded) for the first few years after qualification. More experienced lawyers are typically remunerated based on seniority, area of specialism and hours billed. 
In-house organisations tend to operate in a very different way from private practice as there are no formal annual increments in salaries – employees are entitled to an annual salary review but this doesn’t necessarily guarantee a pay increase. Rather, in-house PQE levels tend to be banded together in a category (e.g. two – four years). Above six years, the PQE becomes largely irrelevant; seniority and responsibility become the key determining factors.

Firm Type

Private Practice – London
The type of firm will also have an impact on salary. In London, firms fall into several categories; US firms, Magic and Silver Circle, City Firms and West End. The US firms are known to pay the highest salaries, followed by Magic and Silver circle. City firm salaries range significantly dependant on the firm size and type of client work. West End firms tend to pay a little less, but also tend to have a greater focus on work/life balance. 
Private Practice – Regionally
Like in London, the type of firm will affect salaries for all levels of candidates. In other parts of the UK, we have international law firms, regional law firms and high street practices and within each type of firm, salaries differ. Typically larger firms outside of London will offer annual pay increases for employees with up to five years PQE. More senior employees will tend to see increases in pay related to performance. The majority of firms now offer a bonus scheme alongside basic pay.
Within in-house, the industry or sector will affect a lawyer’s salary. For example, a candidate working within the financial services sector can expect to be paid significantly more (basic salary and bonus) than a candidate working in the retail sector. It is important that lawyers look at the total picture including salary, location, flexible benefits and work/life balance as these can vary greatly from sector to sector. Even within sectors, salaries might vary and will be dependent on the budget available and any hierarchy in place. 

Need bespoke salary information?

For more detailed information or bespoke salary benchmarking, please contact one of your local specialist consultants for a confidential discussion.