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Law solicitors
Compare the money you'll earn as a trainee solicitor at these law firms

How much will you earn as a trainee solicitor?

Each year we survey leading law firms about their trainee solicitor starting salaries. Compare the 2016/17 results below...just make sure you think about the whole package (size of firm, type of clients, areas of practice, quality of training) before applying.
28 of our advertising law firms now offer trainee starting salaries of £40,000 or above.

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 – Slaughter and May now offer first-year trainees a starting salary of £43,000 and Clifford Chance now offer their first-year trainees a starting salary of £43,500 – as have Herbert Smith Freehills, Jones Day, Macfarlanes, Norton Rose Fulbright and Shoosmiths among others. You'll see that 28 of our advertising law firms now offer trainee starting salaries of £40,000 or above (compared to 23 in 2015).

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, since November 2015, the Law Society has recomended that, as a matter of good practice, providers of training contracts should pay their trainees a minimum salary of £20,276 in London and £18,183 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.

Who pays the highest trainee starting salaries among commercial law firms in 2016?

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 £43,000 to first-year trainees. Salaries on qualification as a solicitor with these firms are between £60,000 and £80,000. American firms with London offices offer the highest salaries to their trainees, with Kirkland & Ellis International offering the highest: a £46,000 starting salary with a hefty $180,000 on successful completion of their training contract.

Salaries are lower outside London, in line with the local cost of living. Bristol firm Burges Salmon pays £35,000 to its trainees; with £47,000 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 Addleshaw Goddard LLP – £37,000 (London), £25,000 (Leeds/Manchester)/£62,000 (London), £40,000 (Leeds/Manchester)
  • Starting salaries at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld – £43,000/£100,000
  • Starting salaries at Allen & Overy LLP – £42,000/£78,500
  • Starting salaries at Ashurst LLP – £41,000/£70,000
  • Starting salaries at Baker & McKenzie LLP – £45,000/£72,000
  • Starting salaries at Bristows LLP – £38,000/£60,000
  • Starting salaries at Browne Jacobson LLP – £25,500
  • Starting salaries at Burges Salmon LLP – £35,000/£47,000
  • Starting salaries at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP – £48,000/£105,000
  • Starting salaries at Clifford Chance LLP – £43,500
  • Starting salaries at CMS – £22,500 (Scotland), £32,000 (Bristol), £40,000 (London)
  • Starting salaries at Cooley (UK) LLP – £44,000/£90,000
  • Starting salaries at Covington & Burling LLP – £43,000/£85,000
  • Starting salaries at Dechert LLP – £45,000/£90,000
  • Starting salaries at Dentons – £40,000/£65,000
  • Starting salaries at DLA Piper LLP – £24,000 (Scotland), £27,000 (regions), £42,000 (London)/£38,000 (Scotland), £41,000 (regions), £70,000 (London)
  • Starting salaries at Eversheds LLP – £26,000 to £37,000/£40,000 to £62,000
  • Starting salaries at Fieldfisher – £37,000/£62,000
  • Starting salaries at Freeths LLP – £25,000/£38,000
  • Starting salaries at Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP – £45,000/£112,500
  • Starting salaries at Gowling WLG – £27,000 (Birmingham), £38,500 (London)/£40,000 (Birmingham), £61,000 (London)
  • Starting salaries at Herbert Smith Freehills LLP – £44,000/up to £90,000
  • Starting salaries at Hogan Lovells – £43,000/£71,500
  • Starting salaries at Howard Kennedy LLP – £36,000/£56,000
  • Starting salaries at Jones Day – £45,000/£85,000
  • Starting salaries at K&L Gates LLP – £37,500/£68,000
  • Starting salaries at Kennedys – £34,000 (London), £25,000 (regions)
  • Starting salaries at King & Wood Mallesons LLP – £40,000/£63,000
  • Starting salaries at Kirkland & Ellis International LLP – £46,000/$180,000
  • Starting salaries at Latham & Watkins LLP – £45,000/£100,819
  • Starting salaries at Macfarlanes LLP – £42,000/£71,000
  • Starting salaries at Mayer Brown International LLP – £42,000/£71,500
  • Starting salaries at Mills & Reeve LLP – £25,000/£36,000 to £56,000
  • Starting salaries at Norton Rose Fulbright LLP – £42,000/£72,000
  • Starting salaries at Olswang – £37,000/£61,000
  • Starting salaries at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe (Europe) LLP – £40,000/£75,000
  • Starting salaries at Osborne Clarke LLP – £34,000 to £39,000/£42,500 to £48,500
  • Starting salaries at Penningtons Manches LLP – £33,500/£54,000
  • Starting salaries at PwC – £39,000
  • Starting salaries at Reed Smith – £38,500/£59,000
  • Starting salaries at RPC – £37,000 (London)
  • Starting salaries at Shoosmiths – £26,000 to £27,000/£40,000
  • Starting salaries at Sidley Austin LLP – £44,000
  • Starting salaries at Simmons & Simmons – £36,000 (Bristol), £40,000 (London)/£49,000 (Bristol), £68,000 (London)
  • Starting salaries at Slaughter and May – £43,000/£71,500
  • Starting salaries at Stephenson Harwood LLP – £38,000/£60,000
  • Starting salaries at Taylor Wessing – £40,000/£63,000
  • Starting salaries at Travers Smith LLP – £42,500/£71,500
  • Starting salaries at Trowers & Hamlins LLP – £37,000 (London), £28,000 (Birmingham, Exeter and Manchester)/£62,000 (London), £40,000 (Birmingham, Exeter and Manchester)
  • 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.

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