Top lawyers can earn a salary easily in excess of £200,000 a year. However, as with any job, you can only expect a lucrative return from a career in law by proving your dedication and showing the enthusiasm to work long, unsociable hours.

During 2012 and at the start of 2013 salaries have remained fairly static in the law jobs market. Some firms have used bonus repayments as a means of retaining and attracting key players.


Average Salaries:

Legal Executive

Starting Salary: £18,000-£30,000

Average Salary: £28,035.81

Senior Salary: £58,000 (Glassdoor)



Starting Salary: £20,000

Average Salary: £25,448.44 (Simply Law Jobs 2018 annual report)

Senior Salary: £45,000+



Starting Salary: £25,000 – £39,000

Average Salary: £48,854.14 (Simply Law Jobs 2018 annual report)

Senior Salary: £100,000 – £500,000+


Barrister’s Clerk

Starting Salary: £15,000

Average Salary: £30,000-£60,0000

Senior Salary: £70,000-£100,000



Starting Salary: £10,000-£30,000

Average Salary: £59,680.85 (Simply Law Jobs average salary)

Senior Salary: £100,000-£500,000 +

(Source: Industry estimates and data from Simply Law Jobs)


Overview of job prospects for lawyers

The recession forced many firms to freeze their recruitment programmes and lawyer hires were down during 2011. However, throughout the last few years, more vacancies have been coming onto the market, although employers are increasingly demanding niche sector specific experience. “As ever, candidates with the most effective interpersonal skills alongside technical prowess are the most sought-after,” says Yvonne Smyth, managing director of Hays Legal.

“Areas in demand include corporate, banking, litigation. More niche areas such as tax and pensions typically suffer from a shortage of candidates. Personal injury and insurance remains busy although firms have an eye on the Jackson reforms, and defendant insurance fraud solicitors remain in high demand. Employment law remains steady but has been quieter than at the height of the recession.”

As a rule of thumb, lawyers with 2-5 years post qualification experience (PQE) solicitors are most highly sought-after.


Trainee solicitor salary

In May 2012 the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s (SRA) made a decision to scrap the trainee solicitor minimum wage. From 2014 firms were no longer obliged to pay trainees a minimum salary above the national minimum wage.

The Law Society of England and Wales recommends that trainee solicitors earn a minimum salary of £18,590 in central London and £16,650 outside London. The data collected from our annual report in 2018 also told us that the average salary advertised for trainee solicitor jobs in 2018 was £20,016.78.



Legal salaries in the public sector

Average base salaries for in-house local government lawyers increased by 3% (Local Government Lawyer) compared to 2017, leaving them at an average for qualified lawyers of between £39,290 – £44,320. Higher ranking lawyer’s salaries decreased, by more than 2% from £49,559 – £54,150 to £47,983 – £53,069. Heads of Legal salaries dropped by 1% to £68,548 – £74,491.

By region, lawyers in London benefit from a higher salary, just one of the reasons why London is seen as the go-to place for lawyers to work.

London (Highest paid region) – £43,666 – £49,090*

East Midlands (Lowest paid region) – £35,687 – £40,791* 

*Local Government Lawyer salary survey

The number of lawyer jobs in the public sector rose by 50% in 2018 compared with the previous year. 


Lawyer salary guide – Public sector (All disciplines)

Legal Assistant

(Recorded from all disciplines, all authorities and all locations based in the UK)

Minimum: £24,241

Maximum: £28,026


Solicitor (3-5 PQE)

(Recorded from all disciplines, all authorities and all locations based in the UK)


Maximum: £44,363


Principal Solicitor (5+PQE) 

(Recorded from all disciplines, all authorities and all locations based in the UK)

Minimum: £42,469

Maximum: £46,915


Head of service (All regions)

Minimum: £68,548

Maximum: £74,491 


(Source: Local Government Lawyer public law jobs salary survey 2018)


If reading these lawyer salary statistics has furthered your interest in a career in this area, view legal vacancies on Simply Law Jobs.

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