How much will you earn as a trainee solicitor?
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 magic circle firms have increased their trainee salaries since we surveyed them last year – Allen & Overy and Clifford Chance now offer their first-year trainees a starting salary of £42,000 – as have Baker & McKenzie, Dentons, Herbert Smith Freehills, and Norton Rose Fulbright. You'll see that 23 of our advertising law firms now offer trainee starting salaries of £40,000 or above.
Recommended minimum salary for trainee solicitors
The Solicitors’ Regulation Authority (SRA) scrapped its minimum trainee salary recommendations in August 2014 and replaced it with the national minimum wage. However, from November 2015, the Law Society is recommending, as a matter of good practice, that training contract providers pay their trainees at least £20,276 in London and £18,183 outside London. The Law Society has looked at the impact of the abolition of the minimum salary for trainee solicitors on social mobility. Law Society chief executive Catherine Dixon said: 'The recommended minimum salary for trainee solicitors will contribute to better equality and diversity within the solicitor profession, enabling and supporting entrants from all backgrounds. Qualifying to be a solicitor should always be on merit. We never want applicants’ backgrounds to be a barrier. Many firms have developed recruitment policies that promote equality, diversity and inclusion, and we hope that firms will also adopt the recommended minimum salary for their trainee solicitors.' 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.
Who pays the highest trainee starting salaries among commercial law firms in 2015?
While the reintroduction of a recommended minimum salary by the Law Society is of interest to aspiring solicitors targeting smaller firms, future commercial law solicitors are unlikely to be affected – 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 £38,000 and £42,000 to first-year trainees. Salaries on qualification as a solicitor with these firms are between £61,000 and £70,000. American firms with London offices offer the highest salaries to their trainees, with Sullivan & Cromwell (for the fifth year running) offering the highest: a £50,000 starting salary with a hefty £97,500 on successful completion of their training contract.
Salaries are lower outside London, in line with the local cost of living. Osborne Clarke pays £33,000 to £37,500 to its trainees; with £42,500 to £48,500 paid to newly-qualified solicitors (NQs). Candidates applying to leading Cambridge firm Mills & Reeve can expect to start on £25,000, rising to £36,000–£56,000 if offered an NQ position at the end of their training.
Round up of training contract starting salaries and on qualification
- Starting salaries at Accutrainee – £23,000 to £25,000
- Starting salaries at Addleshaw Goddard LLP – £37,000 (London), £25,000 (Leeds/Manchester)/£61,000 (London), £38,000 (Leeds/Manchester)
- Starting salaries at Allen & Overy LLP – £42,000
- Starting salaries at Ashurst LLP – £41,000/£65,000
- Starting salaries at Baker & McKenzie LLP – £42,000/£65,000
- Starting salaries at Burges Salmon LLP – £34,000/£41,000
- Starting salaries at Clifford Chance LLP – £42,000/£63,500
- Starting salaries at Clyde & Co – £36,000/£61,000
- Starting salaries at CMS – £22,500 (Scotland), £32,000 (Bristol), £40,000 (London)
- Starting salaries at Cooley (UK) LLP – £41,000/£75,000
- Starting salaries at Covington & Burling LLP – £40,000/£85,000
- Starting salaries at Dechert LLP – £44,000/£74,000
- Starting salaries at Dentons – £39,000/£65,000
- Starting salaries at DLA Piper – £24,000 (Scotland), £27,000 (regions), £40,000 (London)/£36,000 (Scotland), £40,000 (regions), £65,000 (London)
- Starting salaries at DWF LLP – £22,000 (Scotland), £24,000 to £26,000 (regions), £36,000 (London)
- Starting salaries at Eversheds LLP – £26,000 to £37,000/£35,000 to £59,000
- Starting salaries at Fieldfisher – £35,000/£62,000
- Starting salaries at Freeths – £25,000/£38,000
- Starting salaries at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer – £41,000/£67,500
- Starting salaries at the Government Legal Service (GLS) – £23,900 to £24,600/£35,000 to £37,000
- Starting salaries at Herbert Smith Freehills LLP – £42,000/£69,000
- Starting salaries at Hogan Lovells – £41,000/£70,000
- Starting salaries at Jones Day – £43,000/£78,000
- Starting salaries at K&L Gates – £37,500/£41,000
- Starting salaries at Kennedys – £34,000 (London), £25,000 (regions)
- Starting salaries at King & Wood Mallesons LLP – £39,250/£63,000
- Starting salaries at Kirkland & Ellis International LLP – £46,000/£97,560
- Starting salaries at Latham & Watkins (London) LLP – £42,000
- Starting salaries at Macfarlanes LLP – £40,000/£65,000
- Starting salaries at Mayer Brown International LLP – £37,500/£62,500
- Starting salaries at Mills & Reeve LLP – £25,000/£36,000 to £56,000
- Starting salaries at Morrison & Foerster (UK) LLP – £38,500/£70,000
- Starting salaries at Norton Rose Fulbright LLP – £41,000/£70,000
- Starting salaries at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe (Europe) LLP – £38,000/£70,000
- Starting salaries at Osborne Clarke – £33,000 to £37,500/£42,500 to £48,500
- Starting salaries at Penningtons Manches LLP – £31,500/£54,000
- Starting salaries at PwC Legal LLP – £37,000
- Starting salaries at Reed Smith – £38,500/£59,000
- Starting salaries at RPC – £37,000 (London)
- Starting salaries at Shearman & Sterling LLP – £45,000/£88,000
- Starting salaries at Shoosmiths – £24,000/£38,000
- Starting salaries at Sidley Austin LLP – £44,000
- Starting salaries at Simmons & Simmons LLP – £36,000 (Bristol), £40,000 (London)/£48,000 (Bristol), £68,000 (London)
- Starting salaries at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom (UK) LLP – £42,000/£98,000
- Starting salaries at Slaughter and May – £41,000/£70,000
- Starting salaries at Stephenson Harwood LLP – £38,000/£60,000
- Starting salaries at Stevens & Bolton LLP – £32,000/£46,000
- Starting salaries at Sullivan & Cromwell LLP – £50,000/£97,500
- Starting salaries at Taylor Wessing – £38,000/£61,000
- Starting salaries at Travers Smith LLP – £40,500/£70,000
- Starting salaries at Trowers & Hamlins LLP – £36,000 (London), £27,000 (regions)/£60,000 (London) £36,000 to £38,000 (regions)
- Starting salaries at White & Case LLP – £44,000/£90,000
What about the benefits law firms offer?
Use our employer hubs 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.