Definitely not anything on the high street, that’s for sure!
The main areas of law that are profitable are basically any fields of law that are undertaken by large London law firms (and for that matter in the US, the New York law firms of a similar nature). The large London law firms include Clifford Chance, Linklaters and any others in the magic circle firms (these are a small number of practices who have large blue chip clients who pay huge amounts of money to them for them to do their legal work).
Roll on Friday
The best place to search to see paid amounts to staff is rollonfriday.com, which has lists of salaries paid to particular staff at particular levels, usually the junior end (ie 1-5 year PQE), but it does give you an idea as to how much they are paying overall.
It is not unusual these days for one of the big London firms to be paying their newly qualified solicitors (for example in 2022 Baker McKenzie are paying £110k to NQs) more than any solicitor of any PQE working on the high street undertaking conveyancing or wills and probate work.
Fields of Law Paying Well
So the types of areas of law that these firms particularly cover include corporate commercial, mergers and acquisitions, shipping, entertainment, media, intellectual property, competition law, anti trusts, dispute resolution, aviation and oil and gas. All of these are specific examples of corporate and commercial fields of law, and these are the general areas of law where you will be paid the most.
To give you an idea of figures, it is estimated that in the City of London most partners will be earning a minimum of about £350,000 and upwards (and this can be right upward into 7 figure sums). To put this into perspective across the legal profession as a whole, most partners of law firms in smaller private practice high street solicitors firms will be earning a maximum of about £70,000 per year, occasionally heading upwards to c£150k tops.
There are of course exceptions and we are seeing increasing numbers of smaller firms getting bought out by larger accumulation companies who take over the smaller practices, install a solicitor manager and take a percentage of the profit every year to build up their brand and their income.
However, no matter how large these companies get they will never compete with the types of income being earned by partners in the larger practices in London.
City Firms = Strict Application Criteria
Before you wonder about whether or not this is for you, you need to read very carefully as to whether you fit the criteria to go and apply for these jobs, because there are specific requirements in relation to qualification levels, and also experiences in life to date that preclude the vast majority of law students from every making any application to them. But that of course is another article.