I often get asked by students contemplating a career in the City if they should opt for investment banking instead of law. If it were simply down to money, then investment banking would win hands down.
Indeed, as we report this week, the latest Association of Graduate Recruiters salary survey reveals that trainee salaries at law firms are lagging behind the rest of the City. According to the survey, trainee solicitors at City firms can expect a median starting salary of 35,700. This is 4 per cent lower than their peers in investment banks, who receive 37,000. And on top of that, there are the gigantic City bonuses we often read about in the business pages.
But money isnt everything. For me law offered an internationally recognisable qualification, helping me to gain plenty of Brownie points from my pushy parents. Whats more, the career path from trainee to partner is arguably more transparent, even though these days it does take a little longer to get from one to the other.
Life is also a little more precarious as a banker. When the economy turns sour, investment banks have no qualms about taking the axe to its workforce. During the last economic slump the banks made thousands of staff redundant. I accept that a job in the law isnt for life either. But law firms are generally less aggressive in their handling of job cuts.
There is no right or wrong answer as to whether law is a more rewarding profession than investment banking. But during my time working as a lawyer and in my current role as a legal and business journalist Ive had to deal with both professions. I can safely say that I definitely prefer working with lawyers. And if you want to find out why, look up the Cockney rhyming slang for investment banker.