Should City lawyers subsidise their less high-earning boyfriends and girlfriends?

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A question facing lots of rookie solicitors as they move in with their other halves, whose salaries are often much lower

With first year trainee salaries reaching a whopping £60,000 at Weil, and newly qualified remuneration standing at the £150k mark at the likes of Latham & Watkins, Vinson & Elkins, Kirkland & Ellis and Skadden, many rookie City lawyers find themselves out earning their peers.

So when they get into a relationship there is often a pay imbalance. How do you handle this? Over the New Year period The Guardian has explored this problem, showcasing the dilemma of a City lawyer and his boyfriend, and asking its readers, ‘You be the judge: should my high-earning boyfriend pay more of the rent?’.

The cohabitating couple moved into their two-bedroom flat six months prior when one worked in City law and the other finance. But when the lawyer’s partner swapped finance for a job in the charity sector, he found himself unable to afford his half of the rent. So the duo agreed to a 60:40 split, with the lawyer shouldering most of the burden.

But neither is totally happy with the arrangement. The lawyer is annoyed about how much he is paying and his partner is still hard up. Is the arrangement fair? Guardian readers and posters on social media seem split on the matter.

The journey to being a lawyer is, by no means, easy and it takes years to get there — with the Legal Practice Course (LPC) costing upwards of £15,000 and non-law graduates having to pay for the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) on top of that. So many law grads start their careers paying off debts and not fully enjoying their big salaries.

This isn’t the first time circumstances arising from being the other half of the lawyer has created a debate. In 2021, the wife of a lawyer posted her account of her ‘half-life’ being married to a lawyer-husband on parental website Mumsnet.


Quality article this


Trainee and single

From finance to the charity sector? I think she needs a new boyfriend.


Plz read before you comment

It’s a he…



This is why it’s easier to date other lawyers


MC Associate

Don’t think I would ever consider another lawyer as girlfriend material. They are mostly dull-as-dishwater snotty brats who want to talk about the latest goss amongst the English middle classes. Or how, despite daddy’s trust fund and expensive private schools, they grew up in relentless hardship being oppressed by the evil patriarchy. Literally the definition of boring even before we consider law chat.

You have to work hard to find genuine personality and charisma in the legal industry.


City Trainee

You’re doing a great job demonstrating how appealing male lawyers are.


Old Guy

How do you know it was a man? Sexist assumption.



This brings to mind that old saying, ‘If you run into an asshole in the morning, you ran into an asshole. If you run into assholes all day, you’re the asshole.’


Ain't no gf here

They’re both men


I wish someone bought me a candle

This week on middle class Jeremy Kyle…


:D :D :D

“when I was on a fantastic salary, working in finance. Then, I changed to work in the charity sector”



Kirkland 3PQE

I’m tired… so very tired.


PE Peter

My guy LBO Levy!! What’s poppin?!?



Yawn, shyte bantz. Back to your textbooks fresher.



The amount of girls I get now I’m a corporate lawyer is crazy for real.
They all want my seed. Cash is king baby!


Sigma Male

Alpha Seed > Beta Need 😎

Did you see the interaction between Bezos’ wife and Leonardo DiCaprio?



Let’s imagine a flat being rented by an equity partner at CMS (‘Party A’), and a future vac schemer at Greenberg Glusker LLP (‘Party B’).

Does this mean that 1% of the rent should be paid by Party A and 99% by the top, top titan to be?


JD Top of Equity P

Bravo, Sir, bravo.


Trainee at MC

“So the duo agreed to a 60:40 split, with the lawyer shouldering most of the burden.” – realllly????

I’m sorry just a quick question – Why did he/she leave his/her finance job considering their financial status. Now the burden is too much for the other partner who happens to be a lawyer – I’m sorry, i believe this to be common sense that needs to be applied.

Under no circumstance should you let your partner have the more financial burden, it should be equally shared, understood and agreed upon and this has nothing to do with profession. Love isn’t blind to this extent please……

Exceptional circumstances are if your partner happen to be laid off from work, or maybe your partner is unemployed, then you have to be understanding of your current phase and assist. But not leaving Finance for Charity then leaving the financial burden to the lawyer. It’s not Rocket Science. I’m sorry – lol


Also a MC trainee

Because weirdly (and I know this might be difficult for many to comprehend – inb4 the sixth former who pretends to be a Kirkland NQ on every article shows up to gob off as usual) not everyone is financially driven.

Relationships aren’t “supposed” to be a 50/50 even split. It would be impossible for much of the population. A fairer approach to everyone is to do an equitable approach with a percentage of your income towards household expenses – say 50% of your salary. Doesn’t matter if that’s 50% of £100k, or 50% of £20k, it’s the fairest way to do it, both parties utilising the same proportion of their income rather than a fixed £ amount.



I wouldn’t have a problem with this, but if you do it’s definitely the kind of thing you need to talk about with your partner before a big change in salary/moving in as people can be weird about money. I also think commercial lawyers might be unaware of how their salary often looks to outsiders i.e. huge given they spend their whole life with other lawyers earning the same money.



It’s a huge mistake to contribute more financially than your partner. The only people who do it are either very young or very naive, and they quickly learn why it’s a bad idea.

I’ve seen many a lawyer on their shiny new NQ salary splurging on someone who’s clearly out of their league and knows how to exploit the fact that these lawyers have never had anyone chase after them romantically. Next thing you know, they’ve been rinsed and dumped.

Date within your class, kids.



Anyone who agrees with the freeloader/leech in this scenario is definitely someone working for a regional meme firm (a.k.a below 100k NQ) who is hoping to dig their claws into a high earner in order to compensate for their own mediocre salary.


Sharing is caring

In the circumstances I think they need to discuss moving to a more affordable flat/ location so that their rent is less of a financial burden.

However, if the higher earning partner does not want to sacrifice the nicer apartment then he should pay a higher amount of rent in proportion to the salary difference. It is unfair to pay an equal share when it hits the lower earning partner so much harder.

Relationships should be about supporting one another (to a degree) especially when you actually live together!



The percentage of salary spent on rent/utilities might be a better metric for these scenarios.


Could do with a kebab

What did they expect?

If one partner abandons a well paid job mid tenancy to a much lower paid job, obviously that partner is not going to be able to match the rent they were paying.

Why leave your job if it means you can’t pay your rent? Why agree to pay your partner’s rent (I wouldn’t mind personally) if it’s going to be a problem?

How these two ended up in City law and finance is a mystery – they have the foresight of a teaspoon.


Risk adverse lawyer is adverse to risk *gasp*

Further context would be useful – does the supported party use their assumed free time in the charity sector to support the lawyer boyfriend in non financial ways (cooking, cleaning, shopping, raising children) in which case the lawyer needs to stfu.

However, the tone from the article suggested the charity worker is just living there and assuming a “you can pay more therefore you should attitude”, which is entitled and frustrating.

Shockingly, high earning lawyers sacrifice their time for money so they can spend on things they want, not more rent…

relationships are about support and sacrifice, and neither party here seems to understand – charity worker also needs to realise that he needs to put a ring on the lawyer if he wants the “what’s mine is yours” lifestyle and it seems like lawyer knows this and isn’t expecting things to last! Relationships outside of marriage are just friendships with sex, if they break up is he going to pay back the thousands of pounds the lawyer essentially gave him? Absolutely. Not.


Big 4 is better than law any day

Get a job at Deloitte, much better pay and hours


laughs in £50k starting & no ongoing exams

Much better pay??


First Year Trainee at MC

Not you advertising on a legal web lolllll – Anyways ,Thanks but no thanks, lol… Happy New Year.


Out of Touch

I was always told rent should never be more than a third of your income, and ideally only a quarter. I was also taught that it is equitable for a young working couple to each take 25-30% of their income and combine it, and that’s the rent they can afford. If one happens to be earning exponentially more than the other, then they get a nicer apartment. Things like utilities and bills are easy to split down the middle.

Let’s be honest, the chance of perfect equality in all areas of a relationship is completely unrealistic. Even if you take a risk and date another lawyer (a hornet’s nest of a topic on its own), people progress through the ranks at different paces, and different practice areas and firms will have different earning potentials. Then there’s other factors like background: differing family backgrounds mean each partner brings different levels of external assets and support to the relationship. E.g. I was earning nearly 4x as much as my non-lawyer partner but they had a substantial amount of money in a trust that allowed for a VERY large house deposit (if London wasn’t the goal, we could of bought an entire house without a mortgage), where I had less background assets at the time.

What’s going to happen if one partner loses their job in a recession? Or they want to start a family and decide for someone to stop working to provide all the childcare for a year or so? I know many couples have agreed to that arrangement. Long story short, life happens. The fact that the couple (if this is actually real) is complaining about this topic indicates that they probably aren’t mature enough to be in a long term relationship, or are just not emotionally invested enough into a long future together. Either way, I imagine a couple new Hinge profiles popping up soon.



You are assuming that they are at the point where they are willing to combine their income and consider extramarital assets as well. This may well be you jumping the gun. We don’t know at what point they are in their relationship and what future they see themselves having because the Grauniad didn’t bother telling us.

It’s one thing to have a pay gap (this is inevitable), and another to have radically different incomes and also different approaches to how it is spent. From what I read the bf in the charity sector spends money on silly things and also went on an expensive holiday right before changing jobs; the other bf is a lot more frugal. This is not a good combination on any level.

This couple also seems poor at communicating. I’m surprised they let the rent issue get this far without an amicable resolution.


James is at a mid-tier firm

“James is a lawyer who earns a near six-figure salary…”

This is all I needed to read. I’m not surprised that he’s tight with his money. She needs to date someone at a better firm.


Equality Check

This is the article:

It’s a gay couple you sexists. It’s not a high-earning boyfriend and his girifriend.


First Year Trainee at MC

Lol, we all just assumed they are partners [male or female], lol


arbiter of lawv

If early stage of dating: pay 50-50
If mid stage of dating: have open conversation about finances and trade-offs (if X is giving more in rent what is Y doing? especiallyif Y has more free time and energy?)
If late stage of dating and marriage is in sight: what is mine is yours, so they shouldnt be conceptualising of this as 50-50 or my money:your money. but the conversation about needs to happen again.

a big issue with the article is that it doesn’t tell us for how long they’ve been together. that’s annoying. you’d have different expectations from a bf of 1 or 2 years than you would from a bf of 6 or 7 years.



Short answer: no
Long answer: your other half should not be treated as your mummy or daddy, why should they subsidise your poor career choices?



so more money equals a better firm…not sure about that..



Hate how money obsessed legal cheek has become, facking hell…



FFS – splitting the rent when you aren’t married essentially allows men to easily be able to live in London with a live-in free maid/sex partner, instead of in Zone 7 with 5 other housemates.

What’s the man’s incentive to propose if the free maid/sex partner arrangement suits him??? You might then have to beg, cajole and plead for an engagement, always feeling insecure that you HAD to twist his arm and cry to get the ring.

Not forgetting the awkwardness of moving out after finding Tinder on his phone or getting dumped, knowing full-well at that point that he wanted to move in ONLY to split the rent.

Put yourself first Ladies – save for a house deposit instead of spending years subsidising rent for losers.


Eat your vegetables, young man.

It’s a gay couple. Not sure what on earth led you to that drivel …


eve cornwell's hydroflask

who hurt you?



Don’t understand why everyone says dating a lawyer is so bad. Imagine the income of two US NQs phwoah can pack it in in ya mid thirties ye pls



Your point???



For potentially long term relationships this only makes sense if the financial lightweight has significant short to mid term prospects of acquisition of meaningful family capital.



The reader comments on this website (not just this article) seriously put me off the legal profession. So much avarice and shallowness. The irony of some labelling the “charity worker” (mwahahaha!) as a money grabber.



You lot are an absolute shower.


Hooray Enri

But we are talking state of the art power showers in a very expensive post code.



Don’t pay? Take them away



Some lawyers wonder why they have a bad name among laypeople. Look no further than the legal cheek comment section.


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