Want to find out what your salary will be like when you enter corporate law? These are the City's best-paying law firms

 
Emma Haslett
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Wigging out? The best-paid lawyers don't necessarily work at Magic Circle firms (Source: Getty)

Lawyers: we all know they're better paid than the rest of us, but just how much can you expect to earn if you join one of London's big-hitting firms?

What's surprising is that new research suggests firms in the so-called Magic Circle - the group of London's most elite law firms - aren't necessarily the best-paying.

According to research by salary benchmarking site Emolument, London's highest-earning lawyers work at Latham & Watkins - which, because it's based in the US, isn't part of the Magic Circle.

Meanwhile, Magic Circle firm Clifford Chance is trumped by Silver Circle firm Herbert Smith Freehills, whose median £2,700 bonus adds to its £69,000 salary to push it above Clifford Chance's £70,000 median salary.

The research also found only half of London's best-paying law firms pay bonuses - with bonuses accounting for a maximum of 12 per cent of an associate's total annual pay.

And while your firm might be doing well revenues-wise, that doesn't necessarily mean you'll be rewarded.

"Reneue and pay appear to be decorrelated for associates," said Emolument.

"While Allen & Overy is the second largest firm by revenue...[it] offers the most competitive total compensation, while Clifford Chance, first in terms of revenue, offers the lowest salary."

"Choosing to work for a law firm rather than internal legal counsel at a bank may have its drawbacks in terms of total earnings throughout a career," said Alice Leguay, chief operating officer and co-founder at Emolument.

"But being paid in line with billed hours and level of seniority is a pragmatic practice which saves lawyers from the intense stress and paranoia endured by bankers obsessing about the opacity and volatility of bonus amounts."

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