London lawyers’ salaries highlight massive pay gaps in the UK

London might still be the best place in the UK to practice as a lawyer, as new research reveals high salaries and large annual pay rises overshadow the rest of the country.

Considering recent economic volatility, the UK has seen a dramatic increase in the cost of living, which accounts for large salary increase for lawyers in the capital over the last three years. But despite rising inflation, pay rises for lawyers have remained relatively modest across most regions outside of London.

According to internal data from BCL Legal Recruitment, newly qualified commercial lawyers practising in London receive an average salary of £65,000, up by £12,000 from 2013 averages, and year-on-year pay rises of approximately £5,000. By their sixth year, most London-based practitioners can expect to earn an average sum of £95,000 after six years working as a lawyer, with an additional £25,000 pay rise to £120,000 if promoted to junior partner status.

In 2013, a newly qualified London-based lawyer working in commercial practice could expect to earn an average salary of £53,000, while lawyers with five years of experience earned an average salary of £65,000 then.

But by far the biggest increase in lawyer salaries over the last three years is at junior partner status, with an average £30,000 pay rise since 2013. In just three years, the salary figure has increased to £120,000.

In comparison, commercial junior partners in the North East, the UK’s lowest paid region for legal services, can today expect to earn £80,000. That’s £10,000 lower than what a London junior partner would’ve earned in 2013. There are also vast differences at the other end of the spectrum for newly qualified lawyers.

Today, newly qualified commercial lawyers in the North West, one of the UK’s best-paid regions for legal practitioners outside of London, can earn an average of £39,000 per annum, up from £35,000 in 2013. Even so, this figure is still £14,000 less than what a London-based newcomer would’ve earned in 2013.

The regional pay disparity doesn’t just affect the legal sector. Of all jobs advertised in the North East during the first quarter of 2016, 6 per cent paid less than the £7.20 per hour, which is now the legal minimum for workers aged 25 and over. The introduction of the National Living Wage on 1st April 2016 may have benefitted workers in the North East the most, according to research from job site Indeed. This compares with just 2.2 per cent of jobs listed in South East England and London during the same period that pays similarly low wages, which suggests that nearly three times as many workers in the North East will have received a pay rise in April last year.


Praseeda Nair

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda was Editor for from 2016 to 2018.

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