The average salary for law professionals puts it as one of the top 5 best-paid positions in the UK. New statistics from the ONS show that the average salary (full-time, based on men and women) averages currently at £74,701 beating medical practitioners, financial directors and senior police officers to reach the five highest-paying roles. Legal associates salaries averaged at £29,738 for 2019 and legal secretaries at £21,738.
Whilst the figure for legal professionals is lower than reported last year (£88,099) the data is currently provisional, expecting to be revised in March 2020. However, the 2019 figure fits with statistics from other sources, that estimate average law salaries between the range of £66,000 and £160,000.
For those considering a career in law, or perhaps even considering studying law, the salary data is extremely positive. Legal professionals, including junior lawyers, senior lawyers, solicitors, and barristers consistently take home higher than the national average of £36,611 per annum, a figure which has increased by 3.6% since 2018.
Law salaries: UK vs the US
The average salary for legal professionals in the United States is estimated at $80,219 (£62,001) with 1-2 years experience although this figure jumps significantly, averaging at $117,000 with 10+ years experience and law specialisms.
Whilst it may seem like our US counterparts are paid significantly more, this balances when you dig into hours worked and overtime.
In the UK, law professionals work an average of 39.1 hours per week, with the median working day between 6 and 9 hours. Solicitors can work more, averaging between 37 and 50 hours per week. However, in the US, legal professionals can clock up to 80 hours per week, which is nearly double.
This shift in working hours in Britain has been attributed to a number of factors, such as more millennials entering the workforce and a greater focus on work-life balance. It should be no surprise then that the number of UK employees working overtime has also been on a steady decline since 1997. Ten years ago, nearly 30% of employees worked overtime. In 2019, this figure is almost halved, with 16.5% of employees working overtime.
Furthermore, paid overtime hours have decreased from 2.2 hours per week in 1997 to 0.9 hours in 2019. Whilst many assume that law careers involve significant over time, the industry with the most recorded additional hours was transport and the storage industry, with 37.8% of employees clocking in additional hours. When you break it down further, into overtime by role, it was actually process, plant and machine operatives that worked the most overtime, with 42.7% of employees registering paid overtime.
Law salaries by location
London, the legal epicentre of the United Kingdom and home to the Royal Courts of Justice, has come out the clear winner when it comes to weekly earnings. Those working in London can expect to earn, on average, £152 more per week than counterparts in other areas of the country. The ONS states that “the high pay in London reflects a high proportion of its labour force being employed in high-paying industries and occupations, and will also be impacted by allowances for some employees working in the capital.”
However, before you narrow your job search to London alone, the figures also show that long-term pay growth has been highest for those working in Scotland, with the average pay 91.4% higher than it was 12 years ago.
If you would like to see how this year’s average salary report compares to 2018, click here.