SALARIES for high-flying assistant solicitors are rising sharply, says legal recruitment consultants Quarry Dougall.
Quarry Dougall director Stephen Rodney says assistants who qualified two to four years ago in commercial property or company departments are particularly highly prized.
"At that time a lot of people were qualifying in litigation, but now the other specialisations have come back, especially property and company," he says.
"The top people in their fields are commanding ever higher salaries, and generally salaries are becoming increasingly closely tied to merit."
Rodney says the arrival of US firms in London is also boosting salaries for sought-after assistants.
At the bigger London firms (those with 25 or more partners) the average salary for two-year qualified assistants is u30,885 and u39,012 for four-year qualifieds.
At the smaller firms (with less than 25 partners) the salaries are u28,031 and u33,312 respectively.
The average salary for a six-year qualified at the bigger firms is now u46,814 and for eight-year qualifieds is u55,816. This contrasts with u40,879 and u48,899 at the smaller firms.
Stephen Rodney says newly qualified solicitors salaries are static.
At the bigger firms, newly qualified solicitors start on an average salary of u26,250, and at the smaller firms u25,278.
The figures given for average salaries of assistant solicitors should be seen in the context of increasingly wide bands at each level. For example, Quarry Dougall quotes a salary range of u26,000 to u40,000 for two-year qualified solicitors at the big firms, and from u29,000 to u52,000 for four-year qualifieds.