Ex-City lawyer on £100k reveals she’s taken 80% pay cut to specialise in human rights

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By Aishah Hussain on

She currently earns just over £18k but hopes to revert to six-figure salary in new field

An ex-City lawyer once earning just over £100k has revealed she recently took a “huge pay cut” to specialise in human rights law.

The anonymous lawyer says she’s now on a salary of £18.2k — an 82% drop in pay — but hopes to revert to a six-figure salary by taking up a new post in her preferred field.

The 29-year-old lawyer, who lives in West London, shared details of her spending habits in a money diary for lifestyle website, Refinery 29.

“I was working for a large City law firm, where I was earning just over £100,000,” she logs in her week-long account. “I quit for a smaller firm specialising in a niche area of law which I’m passionate about. It’s both interesting and makes me feel like I’m doing something good for the world.”

She goes on to explain her current job “is only for a few months” and then she’ll be “moving to a job that does something similar for a £100,000+ salary”. But the lawyer has hedged her bets, explaining “there’s always the possibility that this may not materialise”, so she’s currently interviewing for other positions, too.

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She describes how those close to her were “surprised” and “worried” about her career move, especially her parents who saw it as a “step back”. But the lawyer says she’s prepared herself for this “uncertain period of time” and has always lived as if she was on a lower salary.

The human rights lawyer takes home £1,295 after tax each month, £956 of which is her share towards the mortgage on a flat she co-owns with her sister. She saves on student loan repayments as her current salary is “too low” as well as on transport since she works from home for the most part and can “walk everywhere”.

She has just over £50k savings in various accounts and funds from her previous job to get by, and has ring-fenced £5k of that for “fun things” as her current salary “can’t cover it”. She’s also seemingly cut back on eating out by taking up cooking and instead of holidays, she’s exploring new areas of London.

During the week, the lawyer documents she spent just over £100, with most of that spent on food and drink (£73). Seeing that she’s in budget she realises she can afford to give charity donations having paused them all when she quit her high-earning career in City law.

And whilst her pay has plummeted, there are instances where the lawyer is up in the early hours burning the midnight oil. She finishes work after 3am on two days in her diary. But, she says, “I don’t mind working longer hours (even on this salary) when the work is as interesting as this.”

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