In-house lawyers among UK’s highest earners

In-house lawyers among UK's highest earnersThe Office for National Statistics (ONS) has confirmed in-house lawyers continue to be among the UK’s best-paid employees, despite a slight dip in salaries over the last year.


According to the ONS, in-house legal is the sixth-highest-earning profession in the country, with the average lawyer’s salary reported as £80,210 a year before tax in 2016. However, pay can vary in the sector, with the bottom tenth percentile taking home £36,610 annually, while the top 75th percentile earned £94,458.


In-house lawyers, which include attorneys and legal consultants, experienced a 1.1 per cent drop in their salaries year on year, the Guardian reported. This was largely due to a fall in the number of vacancies ahead of the EU Referendum vote in June.

In-house lawyer salaries

Research from Barclay Simpson showed similar trends, with in-house lawyers seeing their average annual salary increase slump from 6.9 to 5.9 per cent for individuals who stayed at the same company.


Meanwhile, lawyers who switched roles over the last year saw their average salary climb 13 per cent, although this was still down on the 15 per cent rise they received in 2015.


The most important driver for changing jobs among in-house lawyers was career development opportunities, which 55 per cent of those polled cited as their primary reason.


Our figures also revealed that satisfaction with remuneration is on the decline among in-house lawyers. Last year, 58 per cent were happy with their salary, but only 51 per cent said the same in 2016.


“Candidates are more aware that to make the move from private practice to in-house they do have to take a cut on their basic salary,” Rebecca Garland, in-house legal spokesperson at Barclay Simpson, told the Guardian.


“In-house legal departments have also been more inclined to stick rigidly to their salary budgets.”

More people moving in-house

Figures from the Law Society earlier this year revealed that the number of people choosing in-house legal careers is on the up. These professionals comprised 21.6 per cent of all practising solicitors in 2015 – a notable increase from the 15 per cent in 2000.


More than 5,000 commercial and industry organisations now employ in-house legal staff, which is a 4.4 per cent year-on-year rise.


“The significant increase in the number of commercial organisations employing practising solicitors in the 12 months to 31 July 2015 reflects the central role of general counsel and in-house teams as business advisors who shape organisational risk culture and drive innovation,” stated Law Society chief executive Catherine Dixon.


While in-house lawyers were among the highest-paid professionals in the UK, they didn’t quite clinch a top-five placement. Brokers ranked first, boasting an average pay of £133,868 per year.


Chief executives and marketing directors came second and third, respectively, with typical salaries of £123,577 and £87,890 annually. Aircraft pilots (£86,915) and financial managers and directors (£84,675) rounded out the top five.


Our Market Reports combine our review of the prevailing conditions in the in-house legal recruitment market together with the results of our latest employer survey.


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