UK in-housers are world’s best paid

The UK’s in-house lawyers are the best paid in the world, according to a new survey of in-house salaries.

UK general counsel with legal teams of more than 30 lawyers earn an average of £214,000, just edging out their US counterparts who take an average of $419,000, or £210,703 at current exchange rate levels, according to a survey by recruitment consultants Laurence Simons.

Naveen Tuli, in-house recruitment consultant at Laurence Simons, said the high pay reflected their expanded roles as corporate advisers. “We liken the role to that of consigliere – a trusted adviser separate from the executive council of a business, but with real influence over the individual at the very top.”

The survey looked at the salaries of more than 8,000 in-house lawyers in 20 countries. The UK might have some of the best-paid general counsel, but salaries for less senior in-house lawyers are unlikely to increase in the short term because of a plentiful supply.

The report said: “Despite the increasing demand for in-house lawyers, reward packages have not climbed substantially, mainly due to the steady stream of high-quality lawyers seeking to move across from private practice.”

Bosses may earn more in the UK, but their in-house lawyers earn less than colleagues in the US. For example, an in-house lawyer with seven years’ PQE will command a salary of £77,000 in the UK compared with $165,000 (£82,974) in the US.

General counsel in Germany are the highest earners in mainland Europe, with the top band making e272,000 (£205,790). Legal chiefs in Spain have the lowest salaries among the European lawyers surveyed, with general counsel of 15-lawyer teams earning e149,000 (£112,730).