Those considering a career in law should look at the following analysis of average salaries across different legal specialisms.
Salary benchmarking site Emolument.com analyzed data from 266 UK Associates with less than 5 years’ experience in their legal specialism, and the results are not entirely unexpected.
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Impressive pay gap among different law specialisms
A career in law carries a lot of prestige, and popular culture only adds to the aura of power and wealth which surrounds lawyers. As such it is not surprising that a large number of graduates consider a degree in law, but certain specialisms pay more than others.
Law associates practicing a specialism related to finance earn more than in other fields, and those working with public or individual clients are the least well remunerated. Those working in investment banking receive an average salary of $126,100, while personal injury lawyers are paid an average of $49,800.
While the most- and least-well paid specialisms may not come as a surprise, the pay gap may well do. Despite the same level of experience and job title, personal injury lawyers take home 2.5 times less than their counterparts in investment banking.
Business lawyers take home more than public service specialists
Compliance and regulatory associates receive an average of $124,500, a close second place. High salaries in the field are thought to result from the financial crisis, with banks paying a premium for top legal advice in order to avoid paying heft fines for non-compliance.
Antitrust, Trade & Competition associates receive an average of $121,400, while those working with Investment Funds and Projects & Infrastructure take home an average of $116,800 and $113,600 respectively.
At the bottom end of the scale, associates working in Criminal Justice are paid $59,200 on average, while their counterparts in Civil Litigation take home $61,500 on average.
Alice Leguay of Emolument.com bemoans the incentives for young lawyers to pursue business law. “However much we would enjoy findings showing that working in support of the greater good also yields the best returns, we are deflated to see that the gap between public interest legal work and finance-related activities is quite so substantial for junior lawyers, many of which will be lured towards business law despite original intentions of going down the public service route,” she said.