"It is the spirit and not the form of the law that keeps justice alive." -Earl Warren

Do you love the law? Do you want to spend the entirety of your working years upholding justice? Do you like the idea of having lots of money in your bank account?

If you answered yes to all three previously mentioned questions, you are destined to become a lawyer. In today's world, lawyers are needed to enforce justice and ensure that criminals remain in prison and reasonable persons are kept out of jails.

Keeping up with the law and respecting it is a worthy endeavour, and those who work in law enforcement will never be without a job! 

Also, for many with deep pockets, a career as a hot-shot lawyer appeals to them because it promises a lifestyle of glamour, riches, and prestige. Is that wrong to assume? Not! According to reputable statistics, lawyers are the working professionals who rake in the most money annually.

Nonetheless, it is essential to state that not all lawyers make the same amount of money. Depending on the years of education and the field of law a barrister or solicitor specialises in, the annual income dramatically varies. So, without further ado, in today's article, we shall highlight which field of law pays the most and analyse whether solicitors, barristers, or newly-qualified lawyers (NQ), take in the most cash per year.

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Which Field of Law Pays the Most?

earning a big lawyer salary
Of all the fields of law, lawyers in corporate law tend to make the most money. (Source: Unsplash)

Since the law is vast and encompasses many subdisciplines and unique sections, a person can study and specialise in various types of law during their career as a lawyer. Though the classifications of how many fields of law there are changes from one body to the other, it has been estimated that there are 21 distinct types of law, and they are the following:

  • Animal Law,
  • Admiralty Law, 
  • Bankruptcy Law, 
  • Banking and Finance Law,
  • Civil Rights Law, 
  • Constitutional Law, 
  • Corporate Law, 
  • Criminal Law, 
  • Education Law, 
  • Entertainment Law, 
  • Employment Law, 
  • Environmental Law, 
  • Family Law, 
  • Health Law, 
  • Immigration Law, 
  • International Law, 
  • Intellectual Property Law, 
  • Military Law, 
  • Personal Injury Law, 
  • Real Estate Law, 
  • Tax Law. 

All of the previously mentioned fields of law have subgenres that lawyers can become skilled at and offer their services to potential clients. However, which lawyers will make the most money at the end of the day? It is essential to state that while salary trends may slightly change from one nation to the following, corporate or finance lawyers seem to make the most in all countries and reign superior over all others.

If you're looking to make a lot of money as a lawyer, we recommend specialising your studies in either corporate or commercial law fields since solicitors may earn more than £100,000 per year. 

However, according to a brilliantly researched article from emolument, Investment Banking, Compliance, Antitrust, Trade, Investment Funds, and Projects & Infrastructure lawyers also make excellent annual salaries per year over £70,000.

It is worth stating that the lowest paying salaries are those who work with public and individual clients in Civil Litigation, Criminal Justice, and Personal Injury.

Isn't it a terrible system when those who help people get paid less, and when lawyers who help massive companies get even more decadent is the standard? That's corporate greed and capitalism for you!

How Much Money Do Barristers Make?

Unlike other countries, in the United Kingdom, when someone says they are a lawyer, it is a broad term that could mean two things. How's that? A practising lawyer will either work as a barrister or solicitor; a law student must choose between the two options.

Additionally, it's worth stating that some law students prefer the 'earn while you learn' option, and the position of chartered legal executive might appeal to them. 

To know what's the difference between a solicitor and a barrister, it's simple to state that solicitors complete their work in a law firm, whereas barristers appear in court to defend their clients. Around the law sector in the UK, there is much chatter and stereotypes thrown around that barristers are individualists and, on the other hand, solicitors are team players.

Anyway, how much does each type of lawyer make per year? First and foremost, it is essential to state that there are fewer barristers than solicitors, and most of them work for themselves instead of a large firm for lawyers. Barristers tend to charge much more money per hour than solicitors; however, since they are self-employed, payday can be irregular.

Nonetheless, barristers with their practice and more than three years of experience can expect to make anywhere between £50,000 and £200,000 annually. Barristers with more than a decade of working experience will make nearly £1 million per year if they work in a speciality of law in London. Those who engage in defending the law outside London and other major cities tend to earn less.

Also, it's worth stating that after law school and during the last year before taking the Bar, barristers take part in something known as pupillage, and they are paid a minimum fee of £18,866 per year in London and £16,633 outside of London. Some prestigious chambers or commercial sets may pay more than the minimum for barrister's training.

But, what about the salary of a solicitor in the territories of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales? Keep on reading to find out more!

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The Average Annual Salary of Solicitors

working as a solicitor
From the beginning of their career, solicitors are handsomely paid in the United Kingdom. (Source: Unsplash)

According to statistics, there are nearly 150,000 working solicitors in the United Kingdom defending the law. There is a good mix between women and men solicitors, and they can expect a handsome yearly salary above the national average in the UK.

Different from barristers, solicitors usually work for private firms or public entities that pay a monthly salary that is always guaranteed and does not depend on whether there are big clients or not. In today's uncertain world, the job stability and financial security that solicitors experience appeals to aspiring lawyers who decide to become a solicitor instead of a barrister.

Solicitors usually tend to make a little bit less money annually in comparison to barristers. 

After many years, solicitors might have the possibility of becoming a partner at the firm they were working for, which pays significantly more because they take a share of the profits.

Get to the point about how much solicitors make already! 

In the London area, solicitors can expect to work at firms that pay them more than £100,000 annually, sometimes quite a bit more depending on the firm, your specialities, and years of experience.

Those working as solicitors in smaller towns and cities at lesser-known firms may start with an annual salary that ranges between £50,000-60,000.

It's worth stating that you will make more or less than the average, depending on the law you have specialised in. For example, as discussed in the first subheading, those working as corporate or finance lawyers will always make more than civil litigators or those working in family law.

Nonetheless, no matter where you work or what you do, the average salary for full-time solicitors in the United Kingdom is approximately £62,000 per year.

Also, before starting in the workforce, trainee solicitors are paid a salary per year for finishing off their schooling and before they can take the Bar exam. While there is not legally a specific amount that firms are required to pay trainee lawyers, The Law Society recommends a minimum of £22,794 for those training in London and £20,217 for trainees in other parts of the United Kingdom. Some places might decide to pay their trainees a lot more than the minimum; that is up to the firm's discretion.

What is a Newly-Qualified (NQ) Lawyer? How Much Do They Make?

making money as a lawyer
Those who are NQ lawyers may make more money per year than typical barristers and solicitors. (Source: Unsplash)

A newly qualified lawyer (NQ) is either a barrister or solicitor who has finished law school, their training programme and passed the Bar exam. Newly qualified lawyers have fresh eyes and have the training needed to work for themselves or at prestigious firms across the United Kingdom. NQs need to have people believe in them to get their first professional experience and start making money.

NQs are no longer under the salaries of trainee lawyers that average between £18,000 to £25,000; they can expect to see a significant pay increase for the work they do. Depending on the firm's size, its location, the number of clients there are per year, and its importance in the field of law, as we saw in the previous paragraphs, solicitors and barristers can make fantastic wages.

For instance, barristers may make between £50,000-250,000, and solicitors may raise between £55,000-150,000 per year as newly qualified lawyers.

Remember, a "newly qualified lawyer" doesn't refer to a new type of lawyer other than barrister or solicitor; instead, it is someone who has everything they now need to kick-start a career in the legal profession.

Concluding Thoughts

Whether you become a barrister or a solicitor in the UK, you are promised a prosperous career with a brilliant annual salary. However, to determine which exact type of lawyer makes the most per year is quite a difficult task because it depends on the following factors:

  • Location, 
  • Law firm, 
  • Field of law, 
  • Years of experience. 

Nonetheless, it would be safe to say that solicitors or barristers who work in the city of London for corporate or finance law firms and clients will probably make the most money per year. Don't consider working in public service if you're in it for the cash!

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Brentyn

Avid movie-goer, reader, skier and language learner. Passionate about life, food and travelling.