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Wednesday, September 1, 1999 Published at 17:06 GMT 18:06 UK


Legal eagles pay soars

Top City solicitors are earning close to £1 million a year

Top earning solicitors look set to break the £1 million barrier, according to a new salary survey.

In a study of the UK's top 100 law firms, The Lawyer newspaper found that the City's Slaughter and May paid senior partners £950,000 last year.

Top earners at the other four firms in the so-called "Magic Circle" - Allen and Overy, Freshfields, Clifford Chance and Linklaters - received upwards of £650,000 last year.

Even new partners, usually recruited in their early 30s, received at least £260,000.

If the current boom continued, top earning solicitors could take home £1 million mark by next year, the newspaper said.

The average wage in the UK was £20,000.

Money spinners

Overall, partners working for the top 20 firms could earn an average of £500,000 compared with £370,000 last year. For other companies in the top 100, the figure was up from £186,000 to £190,000.

[ image: Commercial law firms make 2 percent of the UK's gross domestic product]
Commercial law firms make 2 percent of the UK's gross domestic product
The survey showed that 1998/9 was another profitable year for commercial law firms with incomes from fees rising 16% from £4.35 billion to £5.03 billion - 2% of the UK's gross domestic product.

The "Magic Circle" firms earned gross fees of £1.5 billion - half the amount the bottom 80 firms earned between them.

Big earners

The Lawyer editor Sean Brierley said the boom in commercial law was being fuelled by work in mergers and acquisitions, litigation, employment law and, as a spin-off from advances in information technology, media and intellectual law.

The figures confirmed the widening gap between the "magic circle" firms and other top performers, he said.

But there was a market for smaller firms to develop specialities, or to carve out a regional customer base outside London.

Mr Brierley said: "Incomes have gone up again and partners are having a really good year.

"The forecast for next year is they will be even higher and the first quarter of this year from April to July has backed that up."

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