What's with In-house Salaries?

Senior Counsel, London, £80k. What are NQs these days on again?

ROF probably: £80k pretty good net net per month, what's your problem?  Have you considered moving to Dubai?

It's proper gash in-house now. We can't even afford to recruit from MC etc any more so have to grow our own. 15 years ago my role would have paid £500k.

The in house market has always lagged behind PP and recent developments in the latter have not yet impacted retention in house so the laggards continue to underpay.   

I'm probably in the worst paying in-house sector, other than local government. I thought commercial in-house bods were bossing the dolla though? 

To be fair it does very much depend on the industry you are in.  If you are in a business that generates a gushing waterfall of millions/billions of profit for its principals and you stand close enough to the principals, you are bound to get wet.

You've gotta move to get any kind of uplift.

In-house GC friend of mine is trying to recruit externally within budget set for him and he's getting laughed out of town. 

We're paying people about £120-135kish at our shop, plus bonus £20-30k.  Have recently been recruiting and have had several people drop out when told the salary   

Tech stuff. It's always nice reading how a company gets cash injections of 40 million+ but thinks 80k in London is a fair salary for a senior counsel role.

What do head teachers makes in London? 

I spoke to a hedge fund in Geneva once about a job. They said they had a visionary approach to the industry. This extended to paying a Geneva-based GC about £100k.

Heh. Weird. I looked in Geneva too. Their salaries are about as bad as London salaries. I swear they used to be higher. 

Salving away pushing paper for a decent amount in a law firm is one thing but doing it (less so) for not very much in our capital is another.

£80k is terrible for senior counsel although worth checking the level. In some places senior starts at 3 pq. I guess that might be a bit below a West end firm? What Warren says for London. Perhaps + equity/RSUs if in Tech 

What level is that Warren? Lower end of middle?

Warren is that London or regional?

4-8ish pqe, London based

Goethe, because city firms won't have them. Actually, that's not true, I know a few who did make the move but they all flamed out in short order.

There has been insane title inflation so when they advertise an SVP / GX / whatever role, you find out a few minutes in that they want 5pqe and will pay less than £100k 

"Why don’t experienced inhousers on 80k join City firms as NQs?"

Funny, I was thinking the same. Obviously, with the intellect of law firm partners, they would never entertain such nonsense - even though most of the associates will fall by the wayside on their paths anyway.


Wonder what a paralegal makes in the City these days.

You will find that outside MC, SC and US firms, PP doesn't pay that well wither. You don't get much above £100k basic as an SA in those places, and a £100k inhouse becomes quite attractive as the alternative in the circumstances. 

As a general matter for anyone going in-house, don't work in low margin businesses. The pay will be crap as described above.

Fine if that’s what they want but if they want city trained min 10 pqe and in house experience who the deck do they think they are going to get for £85k 

Beats me, but these salaries are not uncommon. I wonder how they compare to senior sales of Deputy CFO positions...

"Why don’t experienced inhousers on 80k join City firms as NQs?"

In the immortal words of Rural Lawyer, I'd rather slam my gonads in the car door. 

Being an associate in a big law firm is boring and really hard work. However it requires a moderate level of intellect, willingness to work really hard on stupid pointless documents and massive attention to detail (as well as the really long hours, accepting cancelling of plans etc. etc.).


The only way to get bright, motivated people to do a boring job which is really hard work is to pay them a lot of money.


The same market forces do not work inhouse especially if the job is interesting.


The games has changed, as games do, from twenty years ago when you could take a big step up in salary moving in house.


I have no idea how it will pan out. I imagine there will be more pressure from the younger associates for a better work life balance. The partnership will make some token gestures on this but in reality the view will be “ if you do not like it fook off and we will get another drone”.   


Then the recession will come (if it is not already here) and all those associates will get binned.


Mind you I am still amazed people instruct big law firms so what the fook do I know.

Corporate in-house salaries are pretty in line with what people of similar experience and business value get in non-legal teams. 

They just haven’t had the upwards pressure of the orgy of PE/low interest rate deal making over the last 5 years that transactional lawyers have enjoyed. 

I’d guess it’ll normalise over the next couple of years as in house roles can’t recruit anyone without raising salaries somewhat, but the rises in private practice also come to a screeching halt now the deals are all dead. 

Insightful Iamlong. I, too, am surprised at companies paying such high amounts of money on inexperienced lawyers and on matters outside of the standard corporate stuff. Ad hoc advice, sure, but giving matters to them, big retainers... anyhow, it is very disappointing to see how people hold lawyers in such low regard. You don't really feel valued in house. What to do apart from step away and do something interesting (and commit to poverty in the interim)? 

tbh I’d quite happily drop down to 80k in order to be able to watch football like ever

Am in house and would never go back to pp

150-200k total is about right for banking/asset management, senior ish with no management responsibility 

after that it’s head of or gc

find a decent smaller or mid size place and you get good work too

best in-house salaries are in funds probably

I reckon the only way I’d match my PP earnings is to go to a fund or join a bank in a role with management responsibility - possible as, being a successful and driven guy, I have been at senior level in law firms

Wot Darrell said. £200k+ requires you to manage and I'm not sure that first step is worth it on a strict financial basis. It gets a bit more worthwhile once you manage managers I think.

Why don’t experienced inhousers on 80k join City firms as NQs?

because then I’d have someone telling me what to do?  And I don’t want to be a salesman for legal services.

I’m happy taking less £ in order to have total control of my day and workload, and to be heavily involved in running a successful business.

PP and IH are two very different jobs that can’t really be compared beyond ‘they both involve a bit of knowledge of law’.

In-house GC friend of mine is trying to recruit externally within budget set for him and he's getting laughed out of town. 

I can relate. I couldn’t recruit a junior PP lawyer in this market as the salary they’d want would be more than most of the senior managers here are getting. It won’t wash.

So I’ll play the longer game and train our own up.  I don’t need someone with a City background, and there are lots of bright grads around: you could turn one into an NQ level contracts specialist in 6-12 months for a *lot* less than an NQ contracts lawyer would want.  

I think you’ll see more IH teams looking at that approach rather than picking up PP escapees. Not everything needs to be done by a solicitor (and now there’s the graduate apprenticeship route if you do need them to have a badge.).

Some decent wedge to be had in the FTSE10 too if in a reasonably senior role, if you put together the whole package of base, STI, LTI and benefits and the business is performing well.

Exactly, decent in-house senior roles can compete with city law PEPs (under MC).  I suspect some can compete with MC or even more, depending on the uniqueness, the level of carry etc.

@ elementary , our fund consists of a GC and two legal Counsel . We are an upper mid-market fund investing across Europe and the US. The GC has been here 5 years. He/She is ex SC, CBA to wait for the tap on the shoulder at 6/7 PQE, so set up our legal function in the UK.

We are a deal heavy fund (FIG) mainly. I understand he gets paid about the same as he did on appointment from PP with a bonus of at least 50%. I doubt he gets meaningful carry. I reckon he is on 150/200k for a 35-50 hour week. The other two he manages are 2.3 PQE ex MC and probably get paid what they were on in PP  plus at least 50% bonus

Senior in house funds is an easy tun plus here. Possibly double tun plus after bonus. 

Not bad for 9-5 with a few evenings chucked in every now and then. 

The talent follows the money so goes PP 

IH gets left with those who can't or won't 

So has to outsource all the big stuff to PP at high rates 

Which means PP can pay more 

The talent follows the money so goes PP


Davos, there are plenty of IH Lawyers earning the same or even more than their counterparts in PP.

When we outsource stuff, it is closely managed, and whilst funds like ours don't hard ball on rates, we don't write blank cheques. PE/Lev fin work, is considered by ALL firms as premium work across the piece. No law firm wants to piss fund clients off, there are so many other firms clamouring for a piece of the pie.

A mate of mine has worked at KKR, and Blackstone. How many lawyers do you think they have, and have you any idea what they make?? There is talent aplenty at Funds- these are not also rans

That's hedge funds EBITDA, there is no carry. GCs of decent funds can make a lot but there really aren't that many decent funds though and these roles are proper dead man's shoes. A bucket shop GC with no staff won't be on much. 

That's the exception not the rule, if true 

Most IH have tried PP and either failed or decided it's not for them. That's life and that's the market 


@ FIL I was talking about PE, where I work... Plenty of carry there once you get senior enough, and you don't have to be senior. I had no idea Hedge funds don't pay carried interest.

@ Davos you don't have to look far to see full EP's at MC/SC that have made the transition to PE. I am not talking about those in their mid 50s, who are shortly to be managed out, but those 35-45.

As I say our GC makes that comporable in PP, probably more, and when his small carry crystalises the sums become very, very significant. All that for 35 hours a week, 50 in a bad week...

Yes EBITDA but owlins article was all about hedge funds. I hope you are not legal counsel at your fund with those reading skills.


My view is that it seems completely random.  I was asked about a GC role a couple of weeks ago where they acknowledged that despite the household name company with a shot load of legal issues they’re paying £85k.  That’s less than the NQs at the firms they want their lawyers to have 10 years experience of working in. 

Other comparable jobs with that one are paying literally double. 

i kno of a gc at a start up, third round funding, paid £120k plus share arrangements. and is low when benchmarked

less than that 4 ne sort of establish company is a joke

what lamlong said tbf tbf

lawdrones get paid to gimp hard, not because they have any particular skills or talent that another drone couldn't pick up quickly

if they aren't gimping hard they don't merit they kind of cash they have convinced themselves that they are worth


All full EPs at MC/SC moving in house for money?

Huge, if true 

More likely to be for lifestyle reasons - ie better hours, less travelling, less drinking, less pressure to sell and bill etc 

I think a lot boils down to whether you are seen as part of the business (i.e. you visibly add value, are proactive in getting deals done, take on extra responsibilities, sit close to the principals and interact with them daily) versus if you are seen as a box ticking role in order for legal to have reviewed the docs.  Also to the extent you can do stuff internally that would otherwise be outsourced helps.  The former is clearly going to be a lot more valuable to the business than the latter.

GC in a small fund - 200/250 base plus 50% bonus plus carry. Spoke to one recently which was actually nearer the 500 mark ignoring the carry. 

GC in a decent PE owned business - 160-200 base plus 50-100% bonus plus LTIP.

Decent numbers really.

Admittedly, the thread is about money, but not confined to funds roles. For me, more the commercial/tech side of things.

Salary rises seems to peter out once you are 4-5PQE. I don't think companies value lawyers as much as accountants. Makes sense in a way, but does make one question what they are really bringing to the organisation when negotiating agreements.

They’re bringing nob all, that must be obvious from the fact the company hasn’t sent the work out to a real lawyer. 

 I was asked about a GC role a couple of weeks ago where they acknowledged that despite the household name company with a shot load of legal issues they’re paying £85k.  That’s less than the NQs at the firms they want their lawyers to have 10 years experience of working in. 


This sort of thing is amazing and hilarious in equal measure.  Imagine the bean counters who are putting the budgets together.  We'll give them 80k for a GC and they'll bloody well like it!  I am only paid £90k so I'll be god-damned if a lawyer is getting more.  They need the job more than we need a lawyer!  

They probably voted for brexit.

All full EPs at MC/SC moving in house for money?


Ask blackstone about their rotating cast of STB partners

One I saw offers a monthly food allowance. I have never heard of that before in the UK. They obviously recognise their salaries are sub market.

Used to get those (a sort of Luncheon Voucher thing) when I was in Germany.  Britons used them for their food shop at Karstadt.

These IH salaries sound terrible if office-based in London.  Less so if in the midlands or north and there's a company car etc

One wonders who applies for these roles, but then there must be “senior” London in-housers on £50-70k…

I worry about the GC/sole counsel roles you see looking for a 2/3 year PQ. Hopefully, you have a enough self awareness to know what you don’t know but you can bet companies that want a cheap and junior GC don’t care about legal risk 

I moved into a Commercial Legal role, which unlocked promotion and therefore more money.

Still running the legals at times but I also run the commercials on issues as well (and do other stuff)

It feels quite arbitrary.  Recently went through the process for a role which was £200k higher than my current salary (both GC roles) but amounted to only a small increase in responsibility.

Didn't get it, which was disappointing.

It would have been a material uplift but demonstrated that some employers have no idea how to value.

On the flipside, it also made me wonder if I had my own price point wrong.

It would have been a material uplift but demonstrated that some employers have no idea how to value.

But they have a great idea of how to undervalue.