The top-paying law firms in the UK – but don’t expect a bonus

Many law firms make a clear decision not to pay bonuses to junior lawyers. However, those businesses instead compensate them with large fixed salaries.

Using statistics from Emolument, which benchmarked the salaries of associates to compare earnings across the UK’s top firms, we unveil the legal companies in the nation that offer great pay packages.

(1) Latham & Watkins 

Median salary: £107,000

Bonus: None

Lawyers at Latham earn far more than those at “magic circle” firms – the five most prestigious legal practices in the UK – and even more than the basic salaries of associate bankers at the UK’s top banks. As a case in point, 2015 saw associates at JP Morgan earning an average salary of £93,000, which was the highest of any bank in Britain.

This is largely due to the fact that in terms of revenues, the firm is the largest in the world. 

However, Emolument suggested that while the best compensated bankers get an average bonus of £83,000, for many lawyers – including those at Latham & Watkins – there’s no bonus of any kind. 

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(2) Allen & Overy 

Median salary: £79,000 

Bonus: £5,000

In 2015, global law firm Allen & Overy issued a message to magic circle rivals that it would be giving its junior lawyers pay rises of up to 25 per cent.

Along with being handed their practising certificates, freshly minted solicitors at the £1.23bn revenue firm now bag salaries of £78,500 and more, an increase of £12,000. And associates in the year above actually saw salaries rise from £72,500 to £92,000, while those at two years post-qualification experience (PQE) went from £82,500 to £104,500 and three-year PQEers jumped from £93,500 to £115,000.

Allen & Overy is the second largest firm by revenue out of those mentioned in the list and it offers the most competitive total compensation at £84,000.

Read on to find information about three other legal practices giving magic circle pay packages a run for their money.

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