Legal Salary Information – 2018 Review

Written by Thomas Eckardt on 16th November, 2021

PQE Top Tier Law Firm Mid-Tier Law firm Boutique Law firm  Financial Services Commerce Public sector
Grad 75-85K 70 – 80K 45 – 60K 70 – 85K 45 – 65K 70K
1 80-90K 70 – 85K 55 – 65K 60 – 85K 60 – 70K 80K
2 90-105K 80 – 90K 60 – 75K 90 – 105K 65 – 80K 90K
3 95-135K 85 – 105K 70 – 85K 95 – 135K 85 – 95K 105K
4 130-145K 95 – 110K 75 – 90K 120 – 145K 95 – 110K 110K
5 130 – 165K 105 – 130K 80 – 95K 130 – 170K 105 – 130K 120K
6 135 – 170K 120 – 145K 95 – 100K 135 – 180K 125 – 145K 135K
7 160 – 190K 140 – 160K 100 – 130K 150 – 190K 140 – 165K 140K
8 180 – 200K 155 – 175K 130 – 160K 160 – 200K 150 – 180K 165K
9+ 200K+ 180K+ 160K+ 200K+ 180K+ 180K+


Senior Associate

Senior Associate promotions have been generally good this year. However, salary increases with those promotions have been unusually low in comparison to recent years.

Historically the jump form lawyer to Senior Associate was accompanied with a significant increase in salary and bonus potential. This has been lacking over recent years.

Generally, SA salary starts at $140K for most law firms. Bonus components vary hugely across teams and firms. The highest law firm bonuses are between 20 and 30% and the lowest (aside from 0) are 3%.


Senior Legal Counsel

There are, comparatively, a lot of Senior Legal Counsel lawyers looking for roles at the moment. As a result, the salaries are fairly depressed. This is due to the relatively poor salary increases within law firms meaning that a significant number of lawyers are looking to make the move in-house.

Bonus component varies largely between teams. Standard 20% in Domestic Banks to 100% within investment banking/funds.


Mid-Level lawyer

Mid-level lawyers should be more aggressive with their salary negotiations internally and laterally at this time. The demand for lawyers with between 3 and 7 years experience is at an all time high.

Negotiation for increased salaries can be conducted in the firm understanding that there are alternative options should the firm not be open to discussion.

Standard internal increases are between 3-5%. However, lateral moves can attract up to 20% increases.


Junior Lawyers

Junior lawyers are also able to improve their salary and firm position in the current market as the demand for more senior lawyers is so high. Currently lawyers with between 1 and 3 years experience are able to achieve good increases and move into areas that areas of more direct interest to them. It is a good time for junior lawyers to make sure they are practicing in the right areas.


Hiring trends

  1. International moves are possible. However, somewhat depressed. HK and London are recruiting within the Finance and Corporate space. US is still a fairly tough market without direct contact.
  2. Domestically, all areas of are in demand. It is one of the busiest times for legal recruitment across industry sectors.
  3. Work life is still a high priority for most firms. However, few have got it right at the top tier. In-house and mid-tier law firms are still the best options for achieving a work life balance.


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