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Regional Variations in Legal Recruitment

We often get enquiries from solicitors wanting to relocate, and when this happens, invariably when going from the south to the north the salary range is impossibly high to source posts, and when going from the north to the south the salary range asked for is impossibly high to source posts! Why?

There is an element of Dick Whittington when people move south – after all the streets of Croydon or Guildford are paved with gold aren’t they? The average house costs twice as much as a house further north than the Watford Gap therefore someone has to be earning good money.

When people move north they think about flat caps, ferrets, terraced houses for £18,000 and serious deprivation. Got to be serious money to be made there – someone has to be dealing with the companies and the people working in all that industry?

Salaries in the legal profession do not differ that widely in similar types of firms across the country, although the highest wages are to be found in and around Greater London. Anything LSC funded will almost be exactly the same anywhere in the UK.

We have advised firms on numerous occasions to give relocation packages when offering candidates coming a long way to find a new post. It is a good tax efficient way of getting someone an additional fee to start work, and also to ease the wage bill over time. Candidates like it, and it doesnt cost the earth to add £1-2k onto any offer for this.

It is also important to emphasise the billing within a firm, so that a candidate is aware that although there is potential to make good money, salary levels in the area are a direct result of the average fee earner generating X in income. A Sheffield firm will pay less than a Reading firm on the whole, basically due to variations in the cost of living etc.., but it will not be substantially less in any field other than corporate.

Jonathan Fagan

Jonathan Fagan LLM FIRP is Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment. He has been recruiting solicitors and legal support staff for law firms and in house legal departments for over 20 years and handles roles from junior fee earners through to partners and law firm sales/purchases. A non-practising solicitor on the Roll since 2000, he is also the author of a number of legal career books, which are available at You can contact Jonathan at