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Which Legal Practice Areas have the Highest Average Earning Potential?

Written by: Evie Courtier
Published on: 26 Oct 2023

Pay rise

Choosing a practice area to specialise in as a graduate can be challenging. The area of law you choose to study during your GDL or LPC impacts on which firms you can apply to in the future, as well as your long-term career prospects. The key is to do plenty of research to determine not only which practice area fits with your interests, but which also caters to your own skillset and personal strengths. Naturally, the financial rewards of each sector are also worth considering.

In our recent Audience Insight Report, we recorded the insights and data from over 900 legal professionals, assessing their annual salaries and subsequent practice areas. According to this data, the top eight sectors with the highest average earning potential are:


Average pay across the practice areas adheres to anticipated ebbs and flows each year, depending on the state of the market, with some front runners retaining their position, alongside the occasional curveball. Since our 2022 survey, pay has risen across almost all practice areas.

Overtaking Media / Entertainment, the IT/Telecoms industry became the highest-paying sector of 2023, presenting an 18% leap from the prior year. Additionally, with increasing complex legislation and Brexit-related regulatory changes, Regulatory and Compliance specialists saw sizable pay uplifts, with average pay ameliorating by £26,349 on average.

With Energy/Environmental standing at +15% year-on-year, and Intellectual Property experiencing a 22% lift, we see a steady shift in high-achieving sectors.

In contrast, changing consumer behaviour and the ongoing cost-of-living crisis may account for dramatic salary drops across the Media and Entertainment industry. After skyrocketing by 70% last year, average pay sank from £103,929 to £82,500 in 2023, landing 7th position in the pay scale.

Similarly, income took a backward step for professionals in the Wills and Probate, Criminal and Corporate sectors. For the record, the top five practice areas experiencing the highest jumps are:



Find out more about earning potential for legal professionals and discover other industry insights - visit our dedicated Salary Survey page. Alternatively, download the full report.

Browse a variety of NQ jobs in a range of practice areas on TotallyLegal today.