LEGAL MARKET OVERVIEW
& SALARY SURVEY
2023/24 LONDON MARKET OVERVIEW
The rise in private practice salaries in London has been gathering headlines in 2023 and will continue to do so into 2024. Competition between law firms to retain and attract the best talent is at an all-time high. Combined with the current cost of living crisis, remuneration is the number one consideration by lawyers looking to move roles in the
City. Salary increases have not been exclusively within the elite top-tier firms either, with all London firms addressing salaries to retain their key lawyers.
GROWTH WITHIN THE IN-HOUSE
The London market continues to see high levels of private equity and VC activity and this is primarily evident in the demand for in-house lawyers in the technology sector. London has witnessed many new tech-based companies launching in the City and this has been mirrored by high levels of recruitment activity in existing teams that continue to grow. Demand for lawyers with commercial contracts and data privacy experience remains high.
EXPANDING US LAW FIRMS
The dominance of the US law firms in the City continues to be high profile and while NQ pay catches the majority of the headlines, the depth of legal services, expanding client bases and the geographical reach of the US firms is now a major factor. The ongoing success of the existing US law firms in London has also fuelled the arrival of additional
US firms setting up a base in London to support the larger US parent firm.
LONDON RELATIONSHIPS – SCOTLAND
City law firms will continue to look favourably on Scottish and Irish qualified lawyers and with a high level of recruitment activity predicted for 2023/24, London remains a location of choice. Indeed, for many lawyers the financial reward and quality of work in the City is simply too good to say no to. With comparable growth both in Scotland and Ireland, opportunities for London returners also remains plentiful.
The private practice market in London very quickly adapted to the ‘new normal’ way of working and this was reflected in a buoyant recruitment market over the last 12 months. The majority of law firms have now successfully adopted hybrid-working which has been an
unquestionable successful across the legal sector in the City.
Competition for the best Associate level lawyers remains to be of the upmost importance to all the major law firms in London. Many top-tier firms have increased their salary bandings and we have also seen a continued trend in firms offering additional benefit rewards. NQ Retention in London has also been strong in the last 12 months with many firms retaining the majority of trainees and still requiring to make additional lateral hires in transactional areas. Associates with strong academics and experience in the following areas will find themselves
with options in the current private practice market in London: corporate, banking, construction/ projects, investment funds, regulatory, financial services and technology/intellectual property.
If you are a lawyer from Scotland or Ireland considering a move to the City, the diversity of your experience and level of client interaction will often be what appeals to the top-tier firms. Scottish and Irish lawyers with interests in more niche areas such as media, sports, derivatives and capital markets will find these types of positions will be readily available in London.
We also expect to see a rise in Senior Associate and Partner level hires in 2023/24 in London. This will be fuelled by continued ambitious growth plans of the national, international and US firms but also to address senior level turnover as a natural result of the pandemic.
We also expect to see a rise in Senior Associate and Partner level hires in 2023/24 in London. This will be fuelled by continued ambitious growth plans of the national and international law firms but also to address senior level turnover as we expect to see many lawyers at this level to consider their options elsewhere following the recovery from the pandemic.
Recruitment activity in the London in-house market over the last 12 months has been high following the pandemic. Many in-house lawyers opted to wait until better economic conditions and exit from the Covid 19 pandemic before making a move. This has met the
need for many companies with strategic growth and expansion plans as well as replacing lawyers who have sought out new opportunities during the last 24 months.
Competition for the best talent in popular sectors, such as technology & media, energy and financial services has returned and is showing no sign of slowing down. We would expect to see a continued rise in junior to mid-level in-house opportunities and due to reduced activity
during the pandemic, we also anticipate seeing a rise in vacancies at General Counsel, Head of Legal and Senior Legal Counsel levels across the majority of key sectors.
Demand for lawyers with regulatory experience is expected to continue within the banking and financial sectors which accounts as one of the largest in-house sectors in the UK. Lawyers with experience in: regulatory, commercial contracts, renewable energy, funds, outsourcing, data protection and financial services are of increasing interest. Indeed, many in-house companies in the City are now actively recruiting from outside the London market to meet high levels of demand.
Scottish lawyers with experience from the oil & gas market in Aberdeen and the highly respected financial services sector in Edinburgh will have options in-house in 2023/24 if considering a move to the City. Equally so, Irish lawyers with exposure to IT/IP, outsourcing,
telecoms, data privacy and social/ digital media will find this can be an excellent route to making a direct move in-house in London.
“The cost-of-living crisis in 2023 continues to put pressure on lawyer salaries in the City. Despite potential economic uncertainty, the achievable remuneration in London is at an all-time high.”
SALARY FIGURES- LONDON 2023/24
|1 YEAR PQE||£70,000||£195,000|
|2 YEAR PQE||£75,000||£210,000|
|3 YEAR PQE||£79,000||£245,000|
|4 YEAR PQE||£100,000||£315,000|
|5 YEAR PQE||£105,000||£340,000|
|6 YEAR PQE||£110,000||£350,000|
|7 YEAR PQE||£120,000||£370,000+|
|JUNIOR LEGAL COUNSEL||£70,000||£120,000|
|SENIOR LEGAL COUNSEL||£90,000||£150,000|
|HEAD OF LEGAL||£125,000||£175,000+|
Please note our salary survey figures are indicative and are intended to be used for guidance only. Salary figures are based on our existing specialist market knowledge gained in the Scottish market. The above figures are based on salary only and do not include bonus or benefits. For the purpose of this salary, figures are based on positions within commercial law firms and large commercial organisations. Regional salaries and those within smaller law firms and companies will differ. Market commentary is based on discussions with our client and candidate population. Should you wish to have a private and confidential discussion on salaries, packages and market conditions please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
ABOUT THOMSON LEGAL
Thomson Legal was founded by David Thomson, a veteran and leading expert in the legal recruitment market in Scotland. Having worked internationally and with a network of Scottish and global clients, the aim of Thomson Legal is to help candidates with their career moves both domestically and internationally. Thomson Legal is regarded as an innovative, market-leading legal consultancy by clients and candidates alike.