UK lawyer salaries on the rise but bonuses fall by 5 per cent

Solicitors’ salaries have risen by £5,000 over the past year but bonuses are down, according to a new survey by recruiter Laurence Simons.

A rise in salaries over the past 12 months has taken the average across the market from £103,450 to £108,690 in a year, but at the same tine the average bonus has fallen from 34 per cent of a lawyer’s salary to 29 per cent.

Bonuses fell last year from an average of £35,590 to £31,495, meaning that lawyers’ total remuneration was down by 1 per cent, to £140,185.

However the survey presents a picture of more restless lawyers as the number looking for roles elsewhere is up 5 per cent on the previous year. Although 89 per cent of respondents said they felt very secure in their job, 71 per cent said they were either actively looking for new roles or would take a new job if offered to them.

Added to that, 47 per cent of lawyers expect headcount to increase in their department over the next year compared to just 5 per cent who think headcount will decrease.

“Stability means lawyers are more confident about changing roles,” said Laurence Simons EMEA managing director Chris Cayling.

”After a few years of uncertainty, there’s a lot of pent-up demand from people to move on and further their careers. There is also greater optimism about new roles being created and there should be more opportunities for people to move. 2014 is likely to be a year of significant growth in the legal sector, with indications that many law firms are experiencing a much higher level of activity in their corporate, finance and real estate departments. Furthermore, many are optimistic about their approaching year end results.”

Recent financial filings have revealed a mixed picture for top partners’ remuneration. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s highest-paid partner took home £2.5m last year, down 14 per cent from 2011/12 (23 January 2014) while Linklaters’ top-earning partner pocketed £300,000 less than the year before in 2013/14 (29 November 2013).

Laurence Simons’ salary survey is sent to its database of lawyers and received 2,193 responses worldwide weighted towards London and city lawyers.