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This is how Instagram influencer pay stacks up against City law firm partners

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Ex-Love Islander Olivia Bowen made the same money as a Mayer Brown partner last year

Ever wondered how the pay of City law firm partners compares to the Instagram influencers of reality TV fame? Well, look no further.

Reality TV stars from shows such as Love Island, Geordie Shore and The Only Way is Essex are raking in thousands of pounds per sponsored post on social network Instagram, and matching average partner profits at a number of top City of London firms.

Digital marketing agency Love UX rounded up the highest-paid UK celebrities on Instagram, based on the number of ads multiplied by their estimated revenue per ad, and we’ve compared the results with the partner profits on our Firms Most List.

Ex-Love Island star Olivia Bowen tops the 2021 reality TV rich list, last year making £1.45 million from sharing 288 sponsored posts with her 2.7 million followers. That’s on par with the profit per equity partner (PEP) at Mayer Brown, and a smidge higher than the £1.43 million Hogan Lovells partners pull in.

The number crunchers estimate that Olivia can pull in up to £5,415 per sponsored post. That’s more or less the same amount of money Weil second year trainees — the highest paid in the City — make each month before tax.

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Olivia’s husband, Alex Bowen, also made the top ten earners, making just under £400k from 127 sponsored posts. The couple’s household income from Instagram alone therefore comes in at approximately £1.85 million — the same as the PEP at magic circle firm Clifford Chance.

Vicky Pattison of Geordie Shore fame is the second highest-earning UK reality TV star on Instagram, according to the agency’s data. She made £1.1 million from 122 sponsored posts in 2021, which is around the same amount as partners at Herbert Smith Freehills and Mishcon de Reya.

Former Geordie Shore cast members Scott Timlin ‘Scotty T’ and Chloe Ferry came third and fifth in the reality TV star rich list, respectively. Timlin made £888k last year from 163 adverts on his Instagram profile, which works out as a little more than the partners at Big Four giants Deloitte (£882k) and PwC (£868k), while Ferry made £662k from 93 sponsored posts, just a couple grand more than what partners at Withers make.

Ex-Love Islander Molly-Mae Hague, who recently came under fire for her “tone deaf” comments on wealth and privilege, is understood to charge the most of any Instagram influencer in the top five, with a single branded post costing an eye-popping £12,400. Up until 2019, pupil barristers scraped by on a minimum £12,000 award, which has since risen to just above £17,000. Hague came in fifth place on the overall list, making £811k from 76 sponsored posts.

It’s worth noting that this is just a single revenue stream for these TV personalities and they earn much more from other big brand deals, guest TV appearances and the likes. The profit share within firms also varies: for example, the highest-paid partner at Clifford Chance took home £3.2 million last year. Meanwhile, the PEP at some US law firms in London stretches way beyond the £3 million mark.

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24 Comments

Anonymous

Exposing and shilling yourself on social media ≠ Working as a legal professional

Please let’s stop comparing the two, thanks

(97)(4)

Look beyond the veil of glamour and realise it’s all marketing and strategy

I’m not going to deny that it requires a special kind of vanity to succeed as an influencer, but these people have crafted success themselves.

Influencers are a new kind entrepreneur. They’ve built a brand, businesses and a loyal fan base through working in reality TV, and then retaining interest through other opportunities and starting businesses. All while encouraging continuous engagement by posting religiously on social media.

Most of the time they’re playing a character. Don’t be fooled into thinking anyone who has made a successful career from Love Island / Geordie Shore actually thinks and behaves as they did on the show. They just know the demographic and what sells.

Many legal professionals got in because they went to private schools and their parents had connections to get them work experience at prestigious firms. It is still quite difficult for someone from a low economic background to get to a MC/US firm. Most legal professionals at top firms went to private school, followed by a Russell group uni, got a TC and that was that – all with help from their parents along the way.

These influencers have built their own success from entrepreneurship, building their brand through opportunities and rigorous engagement with their consumer base. Honestly, I’d wager they’re more determined and focussed than most trainees in the UK.

(35)(56)

Flo

Hi Molly Mae perhaps best not to use your 24hrs defending glorified Avon ladies on legal cheek

(94)(1)

Thank u next

You make fun of her but she is more talented than most trainees and even partners at elite firms.

You think Paul the private equity partner at a top US firm is more disciplined, focused and knowledgable than Molly?

Molly Mae is an inspiration and does more good for people than corporate lawyers who were spoon fed.

(9)(111)

Deal Daddy jnr.

this is the pick-me-up I needed today. Thanks for bringing such wonderful comedy to this husk of a trainee.

Duncan

Don’t quit your day job as a comedian, your comments really cheered me up

I agree.

Totally agree. It takes a serious amount of discipline, focus and knowledge to take lude photographs on the beach and look plastically attractive. I would type more but my nurse should be arriving with my meds any time now.

Kirkland NQ

A post of me and my model girlfriend perched on the lambo bonnet would bankrupt the rest of the planet.

(40)(8)

Anonymous

She made 288 posts that were sponsored. It’s essentially just a daily advert that you are subscribing to… Who even looks at that shit?

(51)(1)

Bob

Idiots.

(36)(0)

Truth

The problem is, you can be a partner for the best part of 20, 30, or even 40 years. So you can be consistently making hundreds of thousands (if not millions) per year. What you gain over those years is experience. No one is paying you based off of looks, or other criteria that may be impacted by age. In fact, as you progress in your career, you can probably command more money.

When you are a ‘social media influencer’, your ability to bring in money falls away when your draw falls away. This usually happens when the next young and attractive person comes along doing the same thing as you. As you grow older, you’ll command less, because you become less relevant. It is basically the complete opposite to being a partner at a law firm.

(76)(0)

Brown brogues, green tie, red belt and a pink shirt. I’m the quirky lawyer! I eat tuna sandwiches in the office and listen to the same Coldplay album every commute. I’m the quirky lawyer!

That applies to most celebrities too.

I imagine many of them have the foresight to invest their fortune to ensure longevity

(3)(8)

stop with the disingenuous comments you're not fooling anyone

err “invest” with a return of what – 4, 5, 6, 7% at best?

meanwhile the partner is actually earning another £million next year – and another the year after that, and so on

not to mention the difference in class/social status/social circles

(11)(4)

Constructive Critic

If your investments are returning below inflation you should move your money. The most boring of index trackers would have made you more over the past couple of years.

(4)(2)

go away

I was thinking long-term – the QE-fuelled post-Covid level of returns is not viable. S&P 500 was flat between 2001 and 2011 i.e. before QE became a thing.

Unless you think that a partner’s career lasts for two years and those two years will always coincide with a massive asset bubble?

stop with the disingenuous comments you're not fooling anyone

well done for missing the point

point was that the partner can invest half of their £1m income this year in whatever vehicle they prefer. and do the same next year and the year after that until they retire from legal practice.

insta model whose income peaks in her early 20s can’t do the same. at best she’ll make enough from interest that she’s living a lower middle class life in Essex. at worst we have another proper crisis and she gets almost no income and the value of her assets tanks by 20-30% overnight.

it’s not a question of returns, you can sub in ‘7’ with ’22’ if you want. it’s a question of actually earning new money to put down as principal

P

Brilliant summary

(0)(1)

facepalm

These earnings are only obtainable for 1-2 years max… until the next season comes out or some other starlet gets bigger than you… or until you say something controversial and get cancelled… or until you hit 30 and start looking like a pumpkin on legs

Meanwhile the partner has had several years of high income & pension contributions during their time as an associate + equity in a business that will probably grow bigger and more valuable (assuming it’s well run) by the time they leave + a consistently high income for as long as they are able to sustain their practice

I think I’d know what I’d rather be

(15)(1)

An actual lawyer

PEP isn’t how much partners get paid.

(20)(2)

agree tbh

funny how 99% of freshers know about PEP but none of them know about this magical term called “drawings”

LC’s articles would be better if any of their writers had worked in a law firm in any capacity for any amount of time

(14)(0)

Disgruntled

Because lock-up doesn’t sell the papers.

(0)(0)

Beeb

There’s some truth in this. Influencers have created a market that would not exist without social media. It is in effect, a lucrative exit strategy for reality tv stars that simply was not there in the old days of Big Brother. However, as others have said, youth and good looks are perishable. Followers are fickle. In the long run, it’s wiser to invest in assets and skillsets that will keep you well fed once those wrinkles pop up. The same goes for lawyers, albeit our sell by date is later down the line.

(7)(1)

Birkenhead Influencer

I may be a pumpkin on legs but I still look sexy and glamorous at a contested stage three

(3)(0)

Apple In-House NQ

Whether Influencer or BigLaw Partner, you can be assured the best use our devices to keep their businesses running around the clock.

Posted on my iPhone 13 Pro Max

(5)(2)

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