Far East countries head salary league

Lawyers are twice as well paid in Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan as they are in the UK, according to a survey released by the consulting arm of legal headhunter Longbridge International.

According to the 1997 Salary Research for Lawyers report, compiled from Longbridge's own database of placements, a two-year-qualified solicitor at a leading UK firm can expect to earn £35,000 a year, compared to more than £70,000 at an equivalent firm in Japan, and between £60,000 and £70,000 in Hong Kong and Singapore, although the cost of living is higher in these countries.

Lawyers with a similar level of experience in the US could command salaries of more than £50,000, adds the report.

Although it estimates German and French firms pay lower wages than in the UK, the report asserts that the difficulty of attracting assistants to CIS countries means that firms are resorting to paying “high premiums to assistants prepared to relocate there”.

The report also carries a warning to UK firms about the entry of US firms into the UK market. “The potential impact on the market in the way assistants are remunerated could be enormous,” it states.

This prediction is in line with a widely held view in London that US firms are pushing up salaries in the legal market.

But Don Gerard, business development partner at the London branch of international firm Baker & McKenzie, said he believed the impact of US firms would be limited by the small volume of lawyers they employ in the UK, and any salary rise would only be apparent in certain finance related practice areas.

Longbridge International opened a new office in Hong Kong last week.