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Highest earners in the legal profession

Written by: Ethan Cumming
Published on: 26 Apr 2019

TotallyLegal salary surveyThe TotallyLegal Audience Insight Report revealed the highest paying job titles within the legal profession, as well as those most likely to receive a salary increase and a bonus last year.

Executive expenses

At the top end of the salary scale and with average salaries exceeding £111,000, General Counsel respondents reported the highest earnings for another year – up 6% year-on-year.

Heads of Department, while just missing out on the top spot as the highest paid legal professionals, experienced a generous 14% surge in annual income, contributing to their average salaries of £92,125.

Additionally, 69% of General Counsels and 73% of Heads of Department received a bonus in 2018 – representing two of the three job titles with the highest chance of topping up their basic salaries.

Interestingly though, fewer Head of Department and General Counsel respondents reported a pay rise in 2018 than they did the year before. This finding comes despite responses overall suggesting a flourishing and lucrative profession; of the 23 job titles surveyed, the number of professionals receiving pay rises increased year-on-year across all but 4.

Elsewhere at the top of the table, Partners earned £91,842, 63% receiving a pay rise and 45% awarded a bonus while Barristers and In-House Counsels round out the top 5 highest earning job titles at £83,529 and £81,015 respectively.

Entry level economics

The lower end of the salary spectrum is home to unqualified and entry level job titles including Graduate, Paralegal and Administrator.

Accordingly, individuals at this level all reported earnings of around £27,000 per year. As well as receiving the lowest salaries in the profession, the majority of respondents with these job titles reported no pay rise and no bonus in 2018.


Despite finding that the number of professionals receiving pay rises increased year-on-year across the vast majority of job titles, a deeper exploration of the data provided in our Audience Insight Report suggests that, while base salaries appropriately reflect the seniority of job titles, those in higher earning positions were considerably more likely to be rewarded pay rises and bonuses for the work they did in 2018 than unqualified or junior level professionals.

Discover more about trends in the legal profession by downloading a free copy of our Audience Insight Report today.