Whilst being a solicitor is often thought of as a well paid role, the amount that solicitors earn can depend on a number of different factors, including where you work, what you specialise in, what stage of your career you are at and how successful you are. Training can also be costly if you do not already have a firm sponsoring your education, and people are often required to pay off the costs of their education with part of their earnings during the early part of their career. For most people their earnings will increase as they progress further in their career.
It is likely that you will receive the lowest salary level during your career whilst you are on your training contact. This reflects the fact that your firm is still supporting you through your training, and that you do not have the same level of responsibility as that which is held by your qualified peers. The only requirement for those on a training salary is that it meets the national minimum wage for a full working week (£6.40 per hour in 2014).
Whilst the SRA recommends that trainee solicitors are paid more than this, especially if they are living and working in London, the SRA does not enforce this recommendation. Regardless of this, many training contract providers will offer their trainees a much higher salary than this. If you want a better salary whilst training, it is best to look for a contract in a private firm, rather than public or third-sector firms. These employers also offer generous benefits packages to their employees, which can help to make these contracts an even more appealing prospect. Some of the top international law firms in London offer training contracts worth over £35,000 per year, and this figure can be higher in the second year of a contract. Graduates who go for these contracts face tough competition and once in position, they are expected to work exceedingly hard as part of their role.
How much do Newly Qualified Solicitors earn?
Starting salaries for fully qualified solicitors begin at around £19,500, and go upwards from there. Those who were lucky enough to secure a training contract with a high annual salary can expect to earn much more than this in their first year as a practicing solicitor, so long as they are able to secure a job at the firm that they trained with.
Newly qualified solicitors who are living and working in London will usually earn more than those who are living and working elsewhere in the country, however this is offset by the increased costs associated with living and working in London.
What is the Maximum that a Solicitor can earn?
There is no real maximum value set for how much a solicitor can earn, and it will often depend on the level of extra responsibility that they take on as part of their job. Solicitors who have been practicing for a while in a clear specialised area, and working as part of a successful and reputable firm can expect to earn up to £75,000 per year.
Solicitors who have taken on extra responsibility, such as a management role or a partnership role in a firm can earn over £100,000 per year. Partners in a law firm may also be eligible to draw an additional cut of the profits from their firm. However, being a partner in a law firm does not come without its own risks. If the firm is unsuccessful, the partners may earn much less than expected, and be forced to take drastic salary cuts in order to keep the business alive.
Do solicitors earn Commission?
Some solicitor roles earn money on a commission basis. Although employees are always given a salary that meets minimum wage, they have the chance to earn more by completing cases. If the cases are successful, the solicitor either earns a pre-arranged fee, or is awarded a percentage cut of the amount which has been awarded to the client. This percentage must be agreed upon when the solicitor agrees to represent the client. Good solicitors can earn a lot of money by taking clients on commission, but less successful solicitors may struggle to earn much.