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

(3) Linklaters 

Median salary: £71,000 

Bonus: £10,000

Linklaters – which is arguably the City’s top training contract provider, offering 110 places annually – saw its turnover increase by 1.6 per cent to £1.26bn over the last financial year.

According to Legal Week, the firm saw a boost in pre-tax profits of six per cent to £420m, leaving a healthy sum of over £402.5m to be divvied out amongst its 2,387 lawyers and 287 partners.

Furthermore, May 2015 saw the firm boost pay for its junior lawyers. And while first-year trainee pay saw a rise of five per cent, newly qualified lawyers were given an extra 5.5 per cent.


(4) Hogan Lovells

Median salary: £72,000

Bonus: None

Much like Linklaters, Hogan Lovells bumped up the salaries of its newly qualified lawyers in 2015 by £5,000 to £70,000 in order to match the salary on offer at magic circle firm Slaughter and May.

This “war of the wages” saw a hike that was more than double the pay rise given to newly qualified lawyers at Hogan Lovells the prior year, when salaries rose by £2,000 to £65,000 to make Hogan Lovells one of the top-paying law firms in the City.

While it no longer maintains its top spot, the company still pays its staff an equal amount to those of magic circle businesses.


(5) Herbert Smith Freehills 

Median salary: £69,000 

Bonus: £2,700

On par with most of the firms on the list, Freehills pitched into the City salary war in 2015. But while magic circle firms may continue to pay higher salaries for more experienced lawyers than Freehills does, the firm saved its biggest increases for those with two or three years’ PQE to reduce that gap. 

Lawyers with two years’ PQE received a ten per cent salary bump from £79,000 to £87,000 and those with three years’ PQE were handed an eight per cent rise to £89,000. 

Meanwhile, magic circle firm Clifford Chance was trumped by Freehills, whose median £2,700 bonus adds to its £69,000 salary to push it above Clifford Chance’s £70,000 median salary.

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