Top barristers’ chambers raises pupillage award by over 40% to £100,000
Exclusive: Gray’s Inn Tax Chambers becomes first set to guarantee new graduates six figures in their first year
A leading tax chambers in London has become the first set to offer a guaranteed six-figure award to graduates fresh out of law school.
Gray’s Inn Tax Chambers — made up of just 12 members — has boosted baby barrister pay to £100,000, equating to a hefty rise of £30,000 (or 43%) from £70,000. The set is looking to offer up to two pupillages next year, with an advanced drawdown option of £25,000 to cover bar course fees.
It’s actually not uncommon for pupils at leading commercial chambers to earn north of £100k, with a pupillage award of £75,000 or thereabouts frequently topped up by second six earnings. We are told these earnings can be in excess of £30,000, but there is no guarantee that rookies will make this amount.
By contrast, Gray’s Inn Tax runs a ‘non-practicing second-six’, which means pupils do not have the option to top up their award with additional earnings during their second six months of training.
The set’s £100,000 award far exceeds new starter pay for trainee solicitors at law firms. As detailed in The Legal Cheek Firms Most List, the highest paying law firms in London for trainees are US duo Davis Polk and Weil Gotshal & Manges, which offer first years £60,000. This amount soars to around £160,000 once the rookies have qualified, but that process takes two years.
The Legal Cheek Chambers Most List 2022 shows a raft of sets offer the top £75k rate (excluding second six earnings), including 3 Verulam Buildings, Blackstone Chambers, Brick Court Chambers, Essex Court Chambers, Fountain Court Chambers and Monckton Chambers.
The picture is of course very different for legal aid-funded sets, where many pupil and junior barristers struggle to earn the minimum wage.
If you are interested in finding out more about life as a barrister and meeting pupils and tenants from sets across the country, including Gray’s Inn Tax Chambers, come along to our Virtual Pupillage Fair on Saturday 8 October 2022. Apply now.
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Whilst intrinsically difficult to ascertain without a large enough sample of junior barristers disclosing to LC their genuine earnings, I would be interested to know roughly how junior commercial barristers’ (1-3 years call) earnings compare to an NQ-3PQE solicitor at a top-paying City firm.
I’d imagine it’s likely on par, if not in excess of what City solicitors earn but by quite how much I am curious.
As a junior barrister at a top commercial set with with friends across magic circle law firms / other top barrister sets, I’d say a rule of thumb would be approximately double for the barristers.
I think this used to be true, but once you take bonuses at MC / higher bases at US into account then this ship has now sailed. Barristers also have to pay for insurance, chambers fees etc. No employer pension contribution etc etc.
So a 27 year old at a top set is making 350k? Damn.
that sounds like a bit much but easily £200k+. Also, barristers tend to be slightly older on average so 27 might be a bit of a reach (save some exceptions)
If it helps, I’m 28 and at a commercial set earning around £450k before tax and chambers expenses.
I would agree – one year post pupillage and out-earning all my solicitor friends at American and MC firms
Not true. Any barrister earning twice my salary would leave no money left in the northern hemisphere for anyone else.
It’s a basically irrelevant comparison. 99% of the people who go on to become very successful City solicitors wouldn’t have a hope in hell of being considered at a top chambers, and 99% of the people with a serious chance of getting pupillage at a top chambers wouldn’t even consider becoming a solicitor.
Or… people would simply rather be a solicitor instead of a barrister and vice versa? Not everything is about money, the two jobs are very different
Making double the top rates in the City? So a 2 year qualified barrister is making around £400k (under double a 2PQE at a US firm including bonus)?
Probably more accurate to say double magic circle sols (including bonus) not American firms’ sols, but after chambers’ fees insurance etc. So a 2 year qualified barrister at a top set might make earnings of around £400k giving a salary equivalent of £300k – £350k. Also, given a typical salary quote for a 2PQE sol would be what they earn over their third year of practice, I’ve given the figures for what a 2 year qualified barrister could get between two and three years after finishing pupillage. Also, in the context of this article, worth remembering tax barristers are famously often the best paid. To all the other junior barristers reading this – give me a thumbs up if if you ball-park agree, it’s hard to know how typical your own set is!