The salary of a criminal lawyer in the UK can vary based on a range of factors such as experience, specialisations and especially by region. This article outlines the average UK salary, region by region, as well as giving a brief insight into how to become a criminal lawyer.

Qualifications needed to become a criminal lawyer

The most common way to become a criminal lawyer is to complete a qualifying law degree (LLB) at university, or study for a degree not related to law, followed by a Graduate Diploma in Law conversion course (GDL).

It is also possible to become a qualified lawyer without a degree, via an apprenticeship which is aimed at college leavers and people already working within the law sector who have completed the necessary qualifications. These apprenticeships are level-7 courses which can last for a period of six years, however, the period of study can be reduced depending on the completion of other legal apprenticeships and courses.


How to gain experience

Work experience can be a significant help in gaining employment in the criminal law sector, not only will it help you hone your skills but it will also give you significant insight in deciding whether it is the right career path for you.

Work experience can be arranged by directly contacting law firms to find out if they offer such opportunities and then submitting a tailored CV and cover letter. Alternatively, universities usually offer a limited number of work placements and summer internships. It is advised to research potential opportunities as early as possible as competition for these places will be high.

Other beneficial experience can include;

Pro bono work: offering advice and representation in an unpaid, voluntary capacity.
Court marshalling: shadowing a judge for a number of days to gain insight.
University Debate Teams: – highlighting proficiency in a key skill.

Salary by Region

Salaries for UK lawyers/ solicitors can vary significantly depending on where the job is based, the higher paid jobs are typically found in London and salaries at the lower end of the scale are more common in northern areas.

Experience is also an important factor in determining a lawyer’s wage, with the lowest starting salary for a qualified applicant usually around £25k, sometimes dependent on the size of the firm. Meanwhile, a senior lawyer can earn between £60,000-£90,000 and partners/ heads of department can earn in excess of £100,000.

Below is a range of salaries in the UK based on individual locations, these figures were recorded in June 2019.



The average salary for a criminal lawyer in Scotland is £42,851.


Northern Ireland

The average salary for a criminal lawyer in Northern Ireland is £33,232.



The average salary for a criminal lawyer in Wales is £42,968.


North West

The average salary for a criminal lawyer in the north west of England is £32,500.


North East

The average salary for a criminal lawyer in the north east of England is £35,000.


West Midlands

The average salary for a criminal lawyer in the English west midlands is £37,500.


East Midlands

The average salary for a criminal lawyer in the English east midlands is £37,500.


South West

The average salary for a criminal lawyer in the south west of England is £47,500.


South East

The average salary for a criminal lawyer in the south east of England is £42,500.



The average salary for a criminal lawyer in London is £52,500.

This data shows that the highest salary, on average is available in London, with the next highest paying regions being the south east, south west, Scotland & Wales. Meanwhile, the lowest salaries on average can be found in the north west and Northern Ireland.

If you would like to browse the latest criminal lawyer vacancies, you can do so here. (Insert Link).

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