Lawyers’ salaries catch up with investment bankers’

Trainee solicitor pay has finally caught up with the graduate salaries on offer at investment banks, a new survey reveals.

The median starting salary in 2007 for trainee solicitors and their peers in investment banks or fund managers is £35,500, according to the Association of Graduate Recruiters’ (AGR) winter survey.

Many of the large City law firms, however, pay their first year trainees above the AGR average.

As highlighted in the salary index the magic circle firms Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Linklaters pay their new joiners £36,200, £35,700, £38,000 and £36,000 respectively.

US firms, including Bingham McCutchen, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton and Debevosie & Plimpton pay their first year trainees £40,000 while trainees joining Weil Gotshal & Manges and White & Case will receive starting salaries of £41,000.

The average trainee solicitor salary is expected to rise by 2.8 per cent in 2008 while investment banking and fund manager salaries are predicted to remain static.

This is the first time law firms have topped the survey albeit jointly. Compared with the figures published in the previous winter review, these salaries represent a considerable increase for law firms, but a slight drop (from £36,000) for City bankers or fund managers.

The median starting salary paid to graduates at AGR employers stood at £23,500 in 2007, according to the review, and is expected to inch up by a modest 2.1 per cent this year despite a predicted 16 per cent rise in vacancies.