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LAWYERS throughout the UK have upped their salaries by as much as 20 per cent over the past year and many in-house solicitors are now earning as much as lawyers in City firms, according to a new survey.
The survey, which was conducted among about 200 law firms and 500 industry legal departments by recruitment specialist Michael Page Legal, in conjunction with The Lawyer, has revealed a sellers' market in which firms are competing for staff.
An emerging trend is of firms conducting six-monthly salary reviews. Penny Stevenson, a consultant at Michael Page Legal, said this was fast becoming the norm.
The survey showed a shortage of lawyers at the two to five years post-qualification stage following a recruitment fall-off during the recession.
Peter Thompson, manager of the consultancy's legal division, said UK firms were still "refusing to play catch-up" with their high-paying US colleagues, although City firms were moving away from other UK firms in terms of salaries.
But Thompson added that this year's salaries had not risen as quickly as they did last year.
A typical salary for a City lawyer in a firm with more than 30 partners, two years after qualification, is £37,000 a rise of £1,000 on last year's figures. The same lawyer in a City firm with less than 30 partners earned, on average, £33,500.
The average salary for a West End solicitor with two years' experience is £31,000. The equivalent average for a regional firm is £24,000.
Lawyers in industry between two and five years after qualification earn similar salaries to those in top City firms.
The survey also revealed that six-figure salaries and board appointments for heads of legal departments in industry are now becoming "commonplace".