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Legal pay down in London but in-house performing better

Posted by: Laurence Simons 26/02/13

A new report from Laurence Simons has found that lawyers in London are making do with lower basic pay, and relying on topping up their income through performance-related bonuses.

While the public perception of the legal sector may be that its doyens spend all day hurling packets of banknotes tied with string to each other from across the office, the reality is that the economic problems facing the UK are having an impact on lawyers, even those working for the most prestigious firms.

The average senior lawyer pulled in £139,040 in 2012, down from £146,500 the year before - still enough to keep them in clean underwear and coffee beans, but indicative of a general trend across the sector.

Laurence Simons EMEA Managing Director, Lucinda Moule, told the Evening Standard: "2012 was a tough year for legal firms and departments, meaning they couldn’t replicate the sharp rise seen in 2011."

However, those working in-house in the financial services sector performed better than their counterparts elsewhere, drawing in average bonuses of £48,688 - private practice workers had to make do with a relatively paltry £14,852.

Research previously published by Laurence Simons suggested that the in-house role is becoming increasingly important to the financial services industry, especially in those areas that have been faced with fines or criticism from the Financial Services Authority.

Some 56 per cent of companies in this industry have a stand-alone compliance function, with 31 per cent including this as part of their legal department.

Furthermore, 39 per cent of firms prefer to source their compliance staff from a legal background, indicating the central role lawyers are playing in the financial services sector.

With yet more projects being undertaken to improve levels of compliance across the UK, it is likely that in-house lawyers will continue to be seen as valuable by a range of financial employers.