Many people envy the job of a lawyer because they think they are really well paid and therefore it would be great to have that much money. However, lawyers may not be paid as much as you think.
How to become a lawyer
Before you can become a lawyer you have to get a degree. Obviously this costs money, not only in the cost of the university fees, but the costs of living for those years without an income. This often leads to borrowing and student loans. It is likely that a master’s degree will also be necessary which will add on an extra year of student loan charges too. However, with a large salary as a reward, it could be well worth it.
Salary for a lawyer
The starting salary of a graduate lawyer tends to be twice the national average salary at around £25,000 to £40,000 in smaller firms with large London based companies paying £58,000 – £80,000. This sounds enough, but it is also likely that their pay will increase every five years by around £25,000 which is much more than would be expected in other professions. Uk based American firms tend to be the highest payers. There will also be a big variation of salary between the more experienced staff members depending on the area that they work in and how much experience they have. A partner can expect anything form £80,000 to a seven figure amount in a large London based company. However, the university that you studied at will also have a big influence on your salary with a degree from Cambridge being worth the most followed by LSE, Edinburgh and Oxford Universities.
Factors effecting salary
It is also worth bearing in mind that the area of law that you specialise in will be a big factor in salary. Some areas become less relevant with time and therefore the amount of work available diminishes and this means that the salaries available are lower. There are also other factors that can gave an effect, such as the rise of no win, no fee cases and recessions. There has also been a fairly recent change in rules by the Law Society so there is no minimum salary for a lawyer. Trainees used to get around £17,000 as a minimum but there is no longer an obligation for them to be paid anything more than the national living wage although some firms pay a much higher rate at £25,000 with the City of London paying significantly more at £40,000.
Although these salaries seem extremely attractive, it is important to understand what has to be done in order to earn them. A lawyer needs to keep up to date with changes in the law. This is not just with changes that are put through by parliament but also the results of court cases. How judges rule has an impact on subsequent cases as lawyers will often have to quote a case from the past as part of their evidence for the current one. This will mean that they will need to be aware of all of the very latest court rulings.