UK counsels’ salaries fall short of Euro rates

UK general counsel salaries are slipping behind their counterparts’ in Ger-many and the Netherlands. The average salaries of UK general counsel with departments of more than 31 lawyers has sunk by 6 per cent, from €248,000 (£167,500) in 2004 to €233,000 (£157,400) this year, according to a survey conducted by recruitment consultancy Laurence Simons.

Senior German in-housers are now the best paid in Europe. General counsel with 31-plus lawyer departments take home an average of €245,000 (£165,500).

Dutch general counsel salaries shot up 10.5 per cent, from €220,000 (£148,600) in 2004 to €243,000 (£164,200) in 2005, overtaking their UK colleagues and sneaking up on the Germans.

The UK’s junior in-house lawyers are still the best paid in Europe, despite a drop in salaries at most levels. Average salaries for UK in-house lawyers between two and 10 years’ PQE dropped an average of 4.8 per cent.

If it is cash they want, the junior lawyers should move to Hong Kong, where salaries are almost a third higher. A 10-year PQE in-house lawyer in Hong Kong will earn $218,000 (£120,100). The same lawyer in the UK takes home e138,000 (£98,200). In Hong Kong a lawyer with two years’ PQE earns $100,000 (£55,100), while those in the UK earn salaries of just €68,000 (£45,900).

Junior in-house salaries still lag a long way behind their counterparts’ in private practice. A newly qualified lawyer at Linklaters earns £52,000, but could earn as much as £74,000 in the UK office of Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton.