How much will you earn as a trainee solicitor?

Each summer we survey leading law firms about their trainee solicitor starting salaries. Compare the 2020/21 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.

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Each summer we survey leading law firms about their trainee solicitor starting salaries. Compare the 2022/23 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.

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 (also known as a 'period of recognised training' or even ‘qualifying work experience’ under the new qualification route).

The majority of firms advertising with us have increased their trainee salaries since we surveyed them last year. Starting salaries at nearly all of the advertising London firms are at least £40,000, with some as high as £50,000.

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 generous graduate salaries. For example, most City firms are offering salaries between £40,000 and £50,000 to first-year trainees. Within City firms, US firms with London offices have tended to offer the highest salaries to their trainees (both Morgan, Lewis & Bockius and Latham & Watkins offer £50,000 to trainees in their first year). Salaries on qualification as a solicitor are also generous, with City, international and US firms offering between £75,000 and £135,000.

Salaries are lower outside London, in line with the local cost of living. For example, Bristol firm Burges Salmon pays £36,000 to its trainees and £52,500 to newly qualified solicitors (NQs).

Round up of training contract starting salaries and on qualification

  • Starting/newly qualified salaries at Ashurst LLP – £47,000/£90,000.
  • Starting/newly qualified salaries at Baker McKenzie LLP – £48,000/£90,000.
  • Starting and newly qualified salaries at Burges Salmon LLP – £36,000/£52,000.
  • Starting/newly qualified salaries at CMS – £44,500/£61,000 (London), £25,500/£51,750 (Glasgow), £28,500/£51,750 (Manchester and Sheffield), £38,500/£53,000 (Bristol).
  • Starting salaries at Covington & Burling LLP – £40,000+/£128,000.
  • Starting/newly qualified salaries at DLA Piper LLP – £46,000 (London), £30,000 (Scotland), £30,000 (regions)/£48,000–£88,000 depending on location.
  • Starting/newly qualified salaries at DWF Group Plc – £38,000 (London), £26,000 (Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool & Birmingham), £22,000 (Scotland)/Variable.
  • Starting salaries at Irwin Mitchell – £38,000 (London), £26,500 (regional).
  • Starting/newly qualified salaries at Kennedys – £36,000 (London), £26,000 (regions), £19,000 (Scotland)/Variable.
  • Starting/newly qualified salaries at Latham & Watkins LLP – £50,000/$205,000.
  • Starting/newly qualified salaries at Macfarlanes LLP – £44,000/Competitive.
  • Starting/newly qualified salaries at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius UK LLP – £50,000/£135,000.
  • Starting/newly qualified salaries at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe (UK) LLP – £45,000/£95,000.
  • Starting/newly qualified salaries at Osborne Clarke LLP – £41,500–47,000 depending on location/£60,500–80,500 depending on location.
  • Starting/newly qualified salaries at RPC – £40,000 (London), £35,000 (Bristol)/£70,000 (London), £49,000 (Bristol).
  • Starting/newly qualified salaries at Stephenson Harwood LLP – £43,000/£75,000.

Recommended minimum salary for trainee solicitors

Since February 2020, the Law Society has recommended that providers of training contracts should pay their trainees a minimum salary of £22,794 in London and £20,217 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 solicitors qualifying examination (SQE) or legal practice course (LPC), subsidised restaurants and gym membership, in-house medical services and, occasionally, bonuses.

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