The TARGETjobs Law team has surveyed graduate recruiters about starting salaries for their next intake of trainee solicitors – and their salaries for newly-qualified solicitors at the end of their two-year training contract or 'period of recognised training'. Some firms have increased their trainee salaries since we surveyed them last year – Ashurst now offer their first-year trainees a starting salary of £46,000 (up from £44,000) and Jones Day offer £52,000 (up from £50,000) – as have Clifford Chance, Howard Kennedy, Irwin Mitchell, Mills & Reeve, Norton Rose Fulbright, Travers Smith, White & Case and Weil, Gotshal & Manges among others. You'll see that 29 of our advertising law firms now offer trainee starting salaries of £40,000 or above.
Who pays the highest training contract starting salaries among commercial law firms?
Fierce competition for outstanding candidates means that the big international and City firms offer very competitive graduate salaries. Most City firms are offering salaries between £40,000 and £45,000 to first-year trainees. Salaries on qualification as a solicitor with these firms are between £70,000 and £115,000. American firms with London offices offer the highest salaries to their trainees; for the second year, starting salaries have reached £50,000 – offered by Kirkland & Ellis International and Jones Day.
Salaries are lower outside London, in line with the local cost of living. Bristol firm Burges Salmon pays £35,000 to its trainees; with £50,000 paid to newly-qualified solicitors (NQs). Candidates applying to leading Cambridge firm Mills & Reeve can expect to start on £27,000, rising to £40,000–£60,000 if offered an NQ position at the end of their training.
Round up of training contract starting salaries and on qualification
- Starting salaries at Addleshaw Goddard LLP – £39,500 (London), £27,000 (Leeds and Manchester), £21,500 Scotland/£70,000 (London), £43,000 (Leeds and Manchester), £38,000 Scotland
- Starting salaries at Ashurst LLP – £46,000/£84,000
- Starting salaries at Baker McKenzie LLP – £48,000/£85,000
- Starting salaries at Bristows LLP – £39,500/£66,000
- Starting salaries at Browne Jacobson LLP – £36,500 (London), £26,000 (outside of London)/'Market rate'
- Starting salaries at Burges Salmon LLP – £35,000/£50,000
- Starting salaries at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP – £48,000/£120,000
- Starting salaries at Clifford Chance LLP – £48,00/£100,000
- Starting salaries at Clyde & Co LLP – £40,000 (London), £26,000(Manchester)/£63,000(London)
- Starting salaries at CMS – £43,000 (London), £25,000 (Scotland), £28,000 (Sheffield), £38,000 (Bristol)/£70,000 (London), £40,000 (Scotland), £50,000 (Bristol), £41,000 (Sheffield)
- Starting salaries at Cooley (UK) LLP – £50,000/£118,000
- Starting salaries at Covington & Burling LLP – £40,000/£100,000
- Starting salaries at DAC Beachcroft – £30–35,000 (depending on location)/ Variable
- Starting salaries at Dentons – £42,000(London), £30,000 (Milton Keynes and Watford), £24,000 (Scotland)/£75,000
- Starting salaries at DLA Piper LLP – £45,000 (London), £28,000 (Scotland), £28,000 (regions)/£70,000 (London), £38,000 (Scotland), £41,000 (regions)
- Starting salaries at DWF Group Plc – £38,000 (London), £26,000 (Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool & Birmingham), £22,000 (Scotland)/Variable
- Starting salaries at Freeths LLP – £25,000/£38,000
- Starting salaries at Gateley – £35,000 (London), £27,000 (regions)/£61,500 (London)/£41,000 (regions)
- Starting salaries at Howard Kennedy LLP – £37,000/£60,000
- Starting salaries at Irwin Mitchell – £38,000 (London), £26,500 (regional)
- Starting salaries at Jones Day – £52,000/£105,000
- Starting salaries at K&L Gates LLP – £43,000/£75,000
- Starting salaries at Kennedys – £36,000 (London), £26,000 (regions), £19,000 (Scotland)/Variable
- Starting salaries at Kirkland & Ellis International LLP – £50,000/$190,000
- Starting salaries at Latham & Watkins LLP – £46,000/£128,205
- Starting salaries at Macfarlanes LLP – £44,000/£80,000
- Starting salaries at Mayer Brown International LLP – £46,000/£90,000
- Starting salaries at Mills & Reeve LLP – £27,000/£40–60,000
- Starting salaries at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP – £47,000/£115,000
- Starting salaries at Norton Rose Fulbright LLP – £46,500/£87,500
- Starting salaries at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe (Europe) LLP – £45,000/£95,000
- Starting salaries at Osborne Clarke LLP – £38–43,000/£42,500–48,500
- Starting salaries at Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP – £38,000/£62,000
- Starting salaries at Pinsent Masons LLP – £41,000 (London), £27,000 (regions), £24,000 (Scotland), £17,500 (Belfast)/£72,500 (London), £44,000 (regions), £43,500 (Scotland), £30,000 (Belfast)
- Starting salaries at Reed Smith – £43,000/£70,000
- Starting salaries at RPC – £38,000 (London), £35,000 (Bristol)/£66,500 (London), £47,000 (Bristol)
- Starting salaries at Shoosmiths – £38–39,000 (London), £27–28,000 (regions)/£65,000 (London), £40,000 (regions)
- Starting salaries at Sidley Austin LLP – £50,000/£120,000
- Starting salaries at Slaughter and May – £45,000/£100,000
- Starting salaries at Stephenson Harwood LLP – £43,000/£75,000
- Starting salaries at Taylor Wessing – £40,000/£77,000
- Starting salaries at Travers Smith LLP – £46,500/£85,000
- Starting salaries at Trowers & Hamlins LLP – £37,000 (London), £28,000 (Birmingham, Exeter and Manchester)/£68,000 (London), £44,000 (Birmingham, Exeter and Manchester)
- Starting salaries at Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP – £50,000/£130,000
- Starting salaries at White & Case LLP – £48,000/£105,000
Recommended minimum salary for trainee solicitors
From May 2019, the Law Society will recommend that, as a matter of good practice, providers of training contracts should pay their trainees a minimum salary of £22,121 in London and £19,619 outside of London. Note that this new minimum wage is recommended by the profession's representative body (the Law Society) rather than the profession's regulator (the SRA) so it is not enforceable, but is recommended as good practice.
What about the benefits law firms offer?
Use our employer hub pages when researching which firms to apply to and you’ll see that law firms will throw in other great benefits, such as sponsorship for the legal practice course (LPC) and conversion course (GDL or CPE), subsidised restaurants and gym membership, in-house medical services and, occasionally, bonuses.
In other news: massive changes to the way solicitors qualify are on the horizon and terms such as LPC and GDL are likely to become obsolete from 2021. Do you know how the changes will affect you? Find out here.