News

Privately-educated lawyers more likely to earn higher salaries

By on
59

And by some margin

New data has shown the firms that pay the highest salaries are also the firms with the most private school kids. And we’re not talking discrepancies of just a few hundred or even a few thousand pounds.

The average newly qualified (NQ) salary at a firm with 0-19% state school-educated trainees is more than £100,000. However, at firms where 80-100% of trainees are from free schools, average NQ wage is less than £50,000. Chambers Student, which produced the research, starkly describes this as “a direct relationship between private education and high earnings, and state education and lower earnings”.

Image credit: Chambers Student

This difference in earning power pervades NQ money. The research states: “Privately educated lawyers are more likely to earn higher salaries, and this difference will only become more pronounced as the lawyers progress to partnership, when partner earnings at top City firms might outstrip those at regional firms many times over.”

Sir Peter Lampl, founder and chairman of social mobility charity the Sutton Trust told Legal Cheek:

“We’ve known for a while that the legal sector has a social mobility problem – our own research has highlighted how the alumni of private schools are overrepresented at the very top of the profession. These new figures confirm our findings. It is especially worrying that these alumni are likely to benefit from a significant pay premium too.”

The research also shows that in 2017 about 51% of trainees joining the 59 firms surveyed were state schooled. The most independent school-heavy trainee cohorts were from magic circle and other City firms: about 40% are state educated.

With only 7% of the general population attending a fee-paying school, the overrepresentation is stark. However, as Legal Cheek‘s commenters have pointed out, law tends to be a graduate-heavy job, so perhaps a better comparison to make is between lawyers and graduates, instead of lawyers and the general population.

Image credit: Chambers Student

Data from the Higher Education Statistics Authority (HESA) show that, of the students that enrolled in 2016/17, 1,062,260 attended a state school compared to 109,595 from a privately-funded school. Excluding unknown and non-applicable schools, that means 91% are stated educated, versus 9% who aren’t.

Even at top universities, the percentage of private school students doesn’t come close to the percentage of private school trainees. For Russell Group students, about 70% are state educated, while at Oxbridge this figure is just shy of 60%.

The latest comments from across Legal Cheek

Since the turn of the year, a raft of data about the legal profession’s social mobility problem has come to the fore.

Just yesterday, we reported on new statistics from the regulator which show 22% of lawyers attended fee-paying schools. The data show firms which mainly do corporate work have the lowest proportion of state-educated solicitors, 56%. By contrast, 76% of lawyers in firms that mainly do litigation work are from state schools, while this figure’s 77% for mainly-criminal outfits.

And, not long before then, new diversity stats from the bar showed 12% of barristers attended an independent school. However, the response rate to this question was extremely low (37%), meaning the percentage of privately-educated barristers is likely to be higher.

For all the latest commercial awareness info, and advance notification of Legal Cheek's careers events:

Sign up to the Legal Cheek Hub

59 Comments

Anonymous

No shit

(29)(0)

Anonymous

This is what, the third article this week parroting the same thing? Get some new material for fuck sake

(26)(5)

Anonymous

Hey Katie, can we talk about the conference that your boss is promoting? Only £192 per ticket (including early bird discount). Care to let us know how that helps the poor people you love protecting?

(14)(4)

Wag

Because in spending that money, it will teach them to know their place when they can’t pay the rent!

(3)(1)

Anonymous

Katie, how many times do we need to tell you, there’s no record for “most diversity articles in a week” and we won’t put one in the book, OK?

(18)(6)

Anonymous

Of course they do. They are better educated by a huge margin and have polish and confidence. Nobody wants to instruct a gauche spiv from a comp in a shiny suit and square shoes.

(51)(30)

Anonymous

To be fair comrade, clients don’t get the chance. Take Alan Sugar, who was a known client of Herbert Smith. He may wish to instruct a lawyer who was similar to how he himself one was before he did a life changing trade deal with the Chinese.

He can’t. At the start of sugars ascendancy in the early 1980s there was still a moral crusade about the evils of China’s industrial revolution under chairman Mao. There is no risk that dynastic middle class boarding school lawyers will have any moral scruples about dealing with the victors of the revolution in China on his behalf. They want to replicate themselves and they do not concern themselves with fine principles of virtue.

A spiv, on the other hand, will not identify with the murderous middle class in China. He will more likely identify with the ruined peasant class. He will be interested in virtue, because he came to law on a virtuous path of hard work and wishing to make a difference.

You cannot have people with decent morals in the midst of an organisation producing complex documents at full speed at all hours, because when they are exposed to the terrible state of affairs that yields the money for the high fees, they will be disruptive.

Accordingly, when Alan Sugar comes along wanting his legal work done, there are no spivs to instruct, just ruthless bourgeois who are happy to assist with the Chinese revolution because the inflow of money allows them to replicate themselves and indulge in stupid attitudes like yours.

(13)(4)

Anonymous

Sugar instructed another spiv – David Gold

(9)(0)

Trumpenkrieg

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(0)(0)

Trumpenkrieg

The truth is antisemitic

(1)(1)

Anonymous

There’s an irony that you are popping up on every LC thread that has anything to do with state school students and then accusing *them* of being gauche…

(12)(19)

Anonymous

You’ve got 3 upvotes for that, so it must mean something interesting, but I don’t understand your comment.

Can you unpack it for me please ?

(0)(8)

Anonymous

I would have thought with all that expensive education you would understand the concept of irony and the meaning of the word gauche. If not, I’m not sure I can help you.

(11)(0)

Anonymous

Ah, I see. You just fired back something random and got upvoted by offended bourgeoisie for the sport of your riposte, rather than its precision.

This is why you cannot explain what it means, though you pretend the fault is with my vocabulary.

(0)(7)

Anonymous

S/he means that you’re a classless bore.

(5)(0)

Anonymous

You pretend to think that. If the original commenter thought that they wouldn’t have avoided my question with the I can’t help you strapline.

(0)(5)

Wag

Identify

Unpack

Apply

Anonymous

I think the *them* post is responding to the short original 1.29 pm post, not the Alan Sugar one.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

The simple fact is that these plebs have no place in the law.

(6)(3)

Anonymous

Says the guy posting at 3.46 am who is clearly not a lawyer.

(10)(2)

Anonymous

Or is abroad

(3)(3)

Anonymous

Pretty sure that the use of “plebs” in this way is a uniquely British bit of nastiness

(3)(0)

Anonymous

Watch Generation Gifted. It will explain a lot.

(4)(0)

Anonymous

I went to a state school, but even I think this diversity push is now becoming a joke.

(21)(8)

Phlom

Even you?

And what makes you so special as to make you an exceptional example?

(7)(5)

Anonymous

Because in many instances diversity pushes seek to support and aide people with backgrounds such as his? Why is this a difficult conclusion to draw for you?

(2)(1)

Anonymous

NEWSFLASH:

BEST EDUCATED PEOPLE ‘OVERREPRESENTED’ IN JOBS REQUIRING THE BEST EDUCATION!

(55)(2)

Anonymous

Best educated does not equal smartest, most knowledgeable or most able. The quality of one’s education largely comes to effort and resource.

(5)(44)

Anonymous

When a chap (for which also read chapess) removes my spleen, or tries to keep me out of chockey, I don’t very much care how far he has come, what his “journey” has been, or indeed how able or smart he might be. I care simply that he is the best educated chap, as he’s about to cut me open and remove parts of my anatomy.

The problem isn’t with law. The problem is with the state education system not producing the goods.

(13)(0)

Anonymous

Define “best educated”. Do you mean one with the most knowledge? You have expressly excluded ability and intelligence.

(0)(3)

Anonymous

The most knowledge. The highest educational qualification from the best university. In my example above, raw intelligence is neither here nor there when my spleen is involved. I want to make damn well sure my surgeon knows where it is, knows the potential complications and knows the best post op management.

I will give you ability though. I don’t want a clever clogs with shaky hands, but even the most accomplished cutter needs to have the knowledge of where my bits are, and I’d rather the person with 100% in anatomy than 80%…

(4)(0)

Anonymous

You know of course that state educated students consistently outperform their privately educated peers once at university? And so far as I am aware no one qualifies in anatomy at secondary school level.

(3)(9)

Anonymous

@10.36am
You seem to have forgotten several rather important caveats. State educated students outperform privately educated students – if they have the same A levels and if those A levels are not As and A*s. Unfortunately they don’t have the same A levels, half of private school A level entries are As and A*s and A level grades are the best predictor of degree classification along with social class. Most pupils from state schools don’t even go to university and those who do are more likely to go to low entry tariff universities while 56% of privately educated pupils go Russell Group universities and 6% go to Oxbridge.

As a consequence privately educated graduates have better degrees from better universities than state educated graduates. If you doubt this look at annual figures from Cambridge where students from independent schools are nearly twice as likely to achieve firsts compared with students from comprehensives.

Access to top jobs is almost entirely explained by quality of schooling, university and educational attainment.

http://repec.ioe.ac.uk/REPEc/pdf/qsswp1315.pdf

https://www.prao.admin.cam.ac.uk/data-analysis-planning/examination-statistics

https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/5d9c/9b4ece86880257e9812b6396114927ee5a0d.pdf

(1)(0)

Anonymous

As a collector of meaningless statistics you may be interested in the fact that I have an above average number of legs.

Otherwise define peer – because if you are comparing like for like the average privately educated pupil attends a Russell Group university and the state educated equivalent has no qualification higher than a GCSE.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Knowledge of what and how do you measure knowledge? I am genuinely curious.

Lets say you have a super bright kid with the top first in classics from Cambridge following by GDL merit and BPTC. Would you rather have this kid over someone with a 2.1 in law from a red brick? One has 3 years of legal knowledge, the other has 1 year crash course on basic legal principles.

The one with the best education would be the Cambridge classics first guy, but the one with the most (relevant) knowledge would be the 2.1 law grad from red brick.

It really is nowhere near as simple as it appears to you.

(2)(2)

Anonymous

Well, there is a reason why first year tenants at Essex Court make more money than 20 year senior juniors at less prestigious commercial sets. If one assumes (and appreciate that it is an assumption) that economic actors act rationally, if there was an advantage to experience, as you posit, then the senior junior would be more in demand, and more expensive. As it is, most top end commercial entities prefer their advice from Essex Court juniors, which implies the answer to your question.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

But that is not true: a first tenant at OEC does not earn more (or even approaching the same amount) as a 20 year junior at, say, 20 Essex or Quadrant.

Anonymous

I think you may find that there aren’t many 2:1 red brick graduates at OES or Quadrant. Do I think a first year tenant at OEC/Essex Court/Quadrant will earn more than someone with a 2:1 from a red brick practicing in commercial law? Yes, I do. I am not sure where I would find them though given the competition.

Wag

The fictional detective of Baker Street is constipated.

(0)(0)

Harry Thotter

Privately educated individuals grew up in wealthier families that state educated individuals (with exceptions obviously).

Few people want to end up poorer than their parents – regardless of where you went to school.

There are social mobility problems in law (as with many other professions), but this stat gives little insight into the real reasons behind this.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

Spot On.

The Stats are simply measuring partental wealth and the practicle effect of removing state help for tuition fees. If you have two 18 years olds with three A*s both are equally well educated. But training to be a lawyer is a massive risk. The vast majority who attempt it will never get pupillage or a training contract. And to even give it a go, you (or your partents) will have to shell out about £50k in Course Fees.

If your partents could afford to pay for you to go to private school, they can pay for your course fees. You take no risk as a private school educated applicant compared to the equally able state school applicant.

To talk of social mobility in law or any profession is now nonsense. Removing state funding of Course Fees, killed social mobility stone dead. It is always going to be easier to qualify as a lawyer if you are bank-rolled by the Bank of Mum and Dad. It doesn’t mean you are more able. But there is not anything the legal profession can do about that. That was a descsion of the electroate generally, that it free education wasn’t worth funding.

(5)(2)

Anonymous

What’s a “partent”?

(3)(4)

LL and P

The poster made some decent points and you pick up on a typo….well done, 10 gold stars for you.

(4)(2)

Anonymous

Two, actually.

(0)(1)

Anonymous

You missed one – it was three. The irony!

(0)(0)

Anonymous

You get a loan for university fees and don’t have to pay it back til you’re earning over a certain amount. You’re hardly “shelling out” a 50k lump sum.

(1)(1)

Old lag

“If your partents could afford to pay for you to go to private school, they can pay for your course fees” – non sequitur: many use an inheritance or some other source of capital for school fees, and when it’s gone it’s gone. You are assuming all parents of privately educated children have bottomless funds. They don’t, especially not after paying school fees for many years.

(3)(1)

Anonymous

My heart bleeds.

(1)(2)

Anonymous

How about Katie writes an article on BPP exploiting students for shite pointless courses? Thought not, BPP are sponsoring Legal Cheek events.

£19K for BPTC, and Katie writes an article about inequality of outcome.

(7)(1)

Chewbacca

Can we stop hating on the reporter please – it’s just a job.

(4)(2)

Anonymous

Imagine you went to boarding school and you turn up at Cambridge university.

You have plenty of money and all sorts to spend it on. You have plenty of talents outside the written word…drama, sports, outdoor pursuits and the chance to network through uni clubs while doing them.

Your school e.g. Eton, Bradley, stoneyhurst, charterhiuse will have looked like a Cambridge college and it prepares you for the whole thing.

The state schooler is just prepared for their Cambridge desk in comparison.

I suspect this will be partly why state schooler do better. Also they are still under pressure to achieve. The boarder likely has a job lined up.

It is a shame boarders aim to be county standard in sports and that this is effectively achieved by diluting the ability of the county.

The discrepancy must make the boarding fraternity at Oxbridge intimidating for the state school try hard.

(1)(3)

Guardian of the constitution

Bradley is not a good public school. If you mean Bradfield that is shit too.

(1)(0)

Jackie

I went to private schol and Oxforrd and, I thinks I deserve a job at a top law firm.

(2)(1)

Anonymous

The article isn’t attacking the privately educated or questioning their ability. It’s simply stating if this were a 100m race the privately educated individual would be starting from 70m.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

Prior academic attainment has a greater effect on the earnings of graduates of law than graduates of other subjects.

It may be a surprise to some but intelligence is not evenly distributed across socioeconomic groups nor is a propensity for academic attainment. Privately educated pupils start off with these advantages and then they receive a better education. They achieve significantly better A level results progressing to higher ranked universities where they achieve better degrees.

If they didn’t earn more something would be wrong.

(11)(0)

BPTC student

1. You guys think that poorer grades make better lawyers.
2. All law firms and barristers’ sets think that better grades make better lawyers.

If you are right, then:
1. All law firms and barristers’ sets have sub-optimal recruitment processes.
2. There is an untapped-into wealth of talent out there, i.e. students with poor academic achievement who cannot get training contracts/pupillages and are desperate for legal jobs.

Therefore: start a law firm, and require A-levels at no higher than CCC, and degrees no higher than 2.1 from universities outside the top 10. If your assumptions are right, Aldridge Connelly & King LLP will soon be the most successful law firm in the country.

(5)(0)

Anonymous

And require that new recruits are all state educated.

(2)(0)

Comments are closed.

Related Stories