of to the shops

It wasn't just City firms’ pay which irked GLD staff, it was how their lawyers flaunted their wealth.

As salaries for City solicitors spiral upwards, spare a thought this Yuletide for their peers in Whitehall, who are not at all happy with their pay deal.

Over 1,500 lawyers in the Government Legal Service are designated as Grades 6 or 7, which indicates that they are experienced officials with significant policy responsibilities.

A recent freedom of information request led to the disclosure of a spreadsheet of their salaries, which circulated around the GLD workforce faster than omicron, and was devoured quicker than canapés at one of their bosses’ lockdown parties. It revealed that the highest paid G7 lawyer earned £64k while the lowest paid earned £48,500, and that the majority of G7 lawyers - 583 out of 834 - earned less than £51,000. 

"The majority of the workforce are stuck on 50k in perpetuity", complained one insider.

Matters weren’t helped when staff spotted a job vacancy advertising G7 roles with a starting salary as high as £61k.

gld grade 6 ad

"£61,000? £61,000! I had to put up with Robert Jenrick and Priti Patel for two years and I'm not on £61,000!"

"Widespread consternation" over the ad prompted senior management to email the hundreds of GLD lawyers promising them that the advert's stated salary was a mistake, and that no-one joining the GLD would in fact be offered a salary of more than £50k, RollOnFriday understands. 

In a follow-up call, senior managers assured the rancorous lawyers that the Executive Team "know how bad it currently is" in the GLD, and reiterated that under their watch "no-one would join as a lawyer on more than £50k", said a source. 

The lawyers were reported to be "sceptical", but also bemused that management was attempting to raise their spirits by emphasising that pay was frozen.

Pay has been a sore point for months, but the GLD's Executive Team recently informed staff that a pay review wouldn't be taking place for another year.

Instead, the team announced the holiday policy was being tweaked to allow staff to sell as much of their unused leave as they wanted above the statutory minimum of 20 days.

"These are people doing important work for the country, some of which involves national security", an insider said. "If they meant to reassure everyone, all they did is sink everyone into a deeper depressive state than they were already in".

The results of the GLD's staff survey appear to back that up. 75% of staff responded, and RollOnFriday understands that 85% of them said they were dissatisfied with pay. Announcing the findings internally this week, Treasury Secretary and Permanent Secretary Susanna McGibbon acknowledged that "some areas, like pay, we know are of deep concern".

A spokesperson for the Government Legal Department told RollOnFriday, "We are working on a new pay business case to improve our overall reward package for staff. The case will seek to address pay and progression issues at the department. Details will be communicated to staff in due course".

If you're in a firm, tell us how happy you are in the survey below. Surely it's not as bad as the Civil Service, where you're forced to party in brightly lit meeting rooms for a future story in the Mirror, when you'd rather be tucked up in bed:

Tip Off ROF


Anon 17 December 21 09:33

But it’s ok because the government spent billions and billions and billions on the wonderful track and trace scheme, so at least money is being well spent. 

I’d be interested to know what pensions these civil servants get - whether there are final salary schemes and so on.  That has to be factored in.   Plus working hours and so on.   

Anonymous 17 December 21 09:35

The pay is woeful, but the work is brilliant. 

Perhaps this is why the Westminster offices are full of people who don’t really need to work, because their parents got rich during the property boom?

The gibbon 17 December 21 09:49

Some of the work is OK at tsols. Most of it is utter garbage and it's unrelenting and as a 15 year pqe lawyer I shouldn't have to worry about whether I can afford to put the heating on. As for management saying they made a mistake in a job advert which says they mistakenly offered external candidates 20pc more than most existing staff members get, come on. Treat us with a bit more respect than that. 


You were caught out. 

Anon 17 December 21 09:49

Anon 9:33 is right that at least they will be able to retire on a nice guaranteed career average pension. 

Anonymous 17 December 21 09:53

Imagine being about 10pqe and only on circa 50k. Disgusting. Plus the living costs inside the M25 makes this salary hard to justify. Can only guess those working there either enjoy being poor (less likely) or receive financial support from elsewhere (more likely).

TopDaawg 17 December 21 10:00

People in the GLD are moaning about their salaries but I have seen their work on a few occasions. Lazy and inept come to mind.


Anon 17 December 21 10:26

I worked in GLD and have recently left for better money and prospects elsewhere. Generally the people are fantastic but there's no real prospect of a decent career unless you know the right people and the money is shocking (yes the pension is ok but imagine being on a static 50-60k for the rest of your career despite being 10 years+ PQE). I'd rather have jam today...

Some of the work is ok but most is dross and, with a huge churn of staff, results in fairly considerable working hours these days. Those who remain tend to be independently wealthy so they don't need to worry about the bad pay.

Anon 17 December 21 10:51

So if you get to retire at 60/65 (?) on £50-60,000 a year that is the same as having a pension pot worth about £1m at least which is way higher than a lot of people earning £100k will manage.  I get it that this doesn’t help with things in life when you need them earlier but it’s still a factor.  Plus if you’re out of the door at 5 most days you’re doing a lot less hours than city lawyers.  

Anonymous 17 December 21 11:17

Yet another group of public sector workers who cannot properly value their pensions. I've been trying to get my wife to join GLD (50% pay cut), because we'll be much better off overall!

Anonymous 17 December 21 11:19

I jumped to private practice. The uplift was £8k pa or about £30 for each working day. I now work until 10pm on average. So it’s a tough line call as to whether it’s worth it, so maybe GLD have got salaries about right. 

Mountain 17 December 21 11:20

In house lawyers’ salaries are usually awful, because legal teams are a cost centre. 

Public sector salaries are usually awful, because (a) the public sector is one huge cost centre; and (b) ‘UK plc’ is running out of money.

If you go both in house, and to the public sector, you’ve made your bed. Complaining about salaries is like living in the UK and bleating that the weather in January and February is rubbish for sunbathing. Well, duh! What - exactly - did you expect?

How can this be news to presumably intelligent lawyers who actively chose to work in house, in the public sector?

Livid employment lawyer 17 December 21 11:27

I'd sack the pension off tomorrow if I were actually paid properly.


The pension doesn't get people on the property ladder. Pay for the heating. Pay nursery bills. Pit petrol in the car or pay for the cost of having kids.


I'm absolutely fed up to the back teeth. Its a shocking place to work and there is now a mass exodus to leave and the decent people are  ow being poached by the private sector. 


The current treasury solicitor is useless and totally out of touch. 


The whole organisation is eating itself and even though I still have the misfortune to work there I hope it implodes because its what they deserve. 

Anonymous 17 December 21 11:33

So frustrating when it appears external hires are coming in on higher salaries, whilst loyal employees essentially get penalised.
I made an internal move last year (private practice) and had previously had several conversations about my frustrations with pay etc.
The firm then advertised for my replacement - exact role and level of PQE at £7k - £22k more than I was on. They subsequently tried to explain it away as accidentally including the pay band for the role above me…

NaylandS 17 December 21 11:54

I have great sympathy for the GLS, but I just wanted to highlight the laughable attempt by 'an insider' to imply that they're all doing James Bond work for the country. Even James Bond doesn't do James Bond work these days.

Anon 17 December 21 12:11

50-60k is still well above the average wage even in London so all this whinging about not being able to have heating on and so on is a little hysterical.   Plus the pension is a massive boost worth £1m +.   If you don’t like it, leave.  Simple as that.   But I wonder if you will find private practice much better.   You’re paid better but the taxman takes a big chunk, plus you are beasted  regularly and have little autonomy.   This has hidden costs too hence why the attrition rate of quite high amongst associates.  

anon 17 December 21 13:15

Anyone who joins the GLD now for the promise of a nice pension when the time comes is on glue.   

Anon 17 December 21 13:18

@ Livid employment lawyer 17 December 21 11:27


Leave them and make your money in the private sector if you're good enough.  You're not a prisoner.

Anonymous 17 December 21 14:58

The public service vibe is strong in this thread...seems like the Government's relentless act on the rule of law has some unintended consequences.

Lames krond 17 December 21 16:35

To be fair NaylandS there is only so much that can and should be said here, but it is absolutely right and correct (and not a state secret) that GLD represent various secret organisations for various matters. They definitely don't go around wearing tuxedos and driving Aston Martins but they do undertake very sensitive, high level and important work. 


The way gld has treated its staff is beyond the pale and quite rightly everyone is heading down to the exits to gtf outta there.

Anon 17 December 21 16:37

To those who think the GLD is doing interesting work, think again. There are DG level solicitors in very specific policy-type teams who might get some sexy work. But on the whole, we are talking lawyers who take a very conservative approach to legal practice -- much of the work being public procurement. I've interacted with the GLD a number of times and even the dinosaur partner at Slaughter & May making his trainee use a typewriter is more progressive and less risk adverse. 

The fact that they use a traffic light system to classify legal risk really tells you all you need to know about their legal strategy. 

Anon 17 December 21 17:09

I never understand people in a free market economy who whinge incessantly about their pay.  If you think you are good enough to earn more and it is important to you then go and test the market.  It’s not like there aren’t other options in the legal market in London.   If you actually find that either (a) you like the work life balance and pension and / or (b) you aren’t actually good enough to get a job earning more money, then you’ve found your level.  So live with it.  

Anon 17 December 21 17:12

Dear Anon @1637: 

It is Slaughter and May.  No “&”.    You obviously didn’t get an interview.  

Anonymous 17 December 21 18:12

Must be a toxic working environment knowing you have people doing the same job earning vastly different salaries. Must do wonders for motivation and loyalty. 

Anon 17 December 21 20:45

I'm current GLD, took a £15k pay cut when I moved from private practice and am not complaining at all. If you can't live on £50-£60 k in the regions, there's something up with your lifestyle. If you can't live on £50-60 k in London, go somewhere a flat white isn't £6. 

I totally accept that some people want wads of cash, clearly public sector isn't the place for that (it is after all taxpayer money) but I joined for flexible, reliable hours and the ability to see loved ones. It delivers. Work is also more interesting and bigger ticket than what I had in private practice. And even if that wasn't so, I'd rather be bored 8 hours a day than chasing targets for 12 like I was before.

Anonymous 17 December 21 23:24

Civil service pensions are a lazy trope.  The truth is complicated, banal and difficult to explain to the uninterested.  Civil service pensions are not funded.  There is no pot.  The significant employee contributions made go into the Consolidated Fund, not to a trustee who diligently grows your money while slicing some fees off.  Those who retire essentially have their pension paid by those who remain in employment.  For tax purposes a fictional pot is devised, but it’s a tax construct that makes for an easy Daily Mail headline.  Entitlement to a pension is governed by Act and the Government has removed entitlements unilaterally and changed payment dates, originally 60 for me, then 67 and now 68.  Go read the O’Brien decision for an insight.  You can’t transfer the pension and you can’t take a cash equivalent transfer value so, no, it’s not comparable with a personal pension and a benefit that pays out after the average age of mortality and is constantly disappearing into the future is not the perk it’s made out to be.

So either you read this story and think “is our country well served by paying its government staff so little and what does this mean for competent government and me as a citizen?” or you think “what mugs, doing that for so little; they must be losers or weirdos”.  Which view one holds says a lot about one’s values.

Anonymous 18 December 21 09:01

After 14 years at GLD my pension estimate is 6k pa, roughly equivalent to a 150k annuity today. If I do another 16 years it will be 22k pa. So more like a 550k pot. But will have to pay rent out of that pension income...

Anonymous 19 December 21 21:53

Gld is too tight to make anyone in London redundant and anyway they can't hire anyone decent anymore in London because of the crap money. 


The organisation is now totally on the skids,  and lots of senior people have recently left. Who can blame them. It really is crap and is where your career goes to die. 


In the meanwhile if you do join get ready for lots of corporate emails on yoga and the menopause and other related garbage. 


Worst decision I ever made to join and like everyone else there I'm working to get out. 

ex GLD 20 December 21 10:55

I left GLD after having a really amazing few years there, to go back to private practice.  when I originally left private practice to join, the pay wasn't so far apart, but when i left to go back, the jump was really significant.  To the point that my family's current lifestyle (involving living in zone 3, nursery fees, etc), simply wouldn't be sustainable on my previous GLD salary.

However, the hours are generally much longer, and there is less predictability - more weekend work, which was really rare in GLD at grade 7.  Also where i worked in GLD the work was much more high profile than what I now do in private practice.  Nearly everything in GLD is work of some national significance.  In a very general sense, a lot of it can be said to be in support of "the rule of law".  As others have said, they do heap a fair amount of responsibility on junior staff.

However, RoF isn't a great place to understand why people stay at GLD.  The whole site is predicated on people working at jobs they can't wait to leave (for the weekend, on a Friday), which they are just doing for the money.  Most of the site is just about money, who's paying what, how, when.  There is very little about doing a job that's rewarding, satisfying, etc.  Wry cynicism rules.  Most readers probably just roll their eyes in cynicism when you talk about that kind of thing.  So I doubt GLD will ever be understood by RoF writers or readers - but that's OK, it's not really for them.  

Anonymous 20 December 21 18:36

Is the GLD desperate for more lawyers but cannot hire them or struggling to retain the lawyers it has? If not, I guess the salary is about right… 

Gld insider 21 December 21 18:18

The recruitment issues at gld are dire. 


People are leaving In their droves (a city firm has just poached a ton of people for a new public law team they've set up). 


Tons of people are on stress and sick leave. 


They have always on recruitment because they have a lot of people who join who are shyte and fail probation. Or others join and realise its an appalling place to work. 


For every 13 people that join 30 people leave. 


Does that sound like an organisation that has it "just right" or that's paying a salary to attract the right people ? 



Elinor Davis 22 December 21 16:00

If that is what government solicitors  are paid then now wonder the Brexit deal was so badly drafted that anyone who can read English moderately well could drive a coach and horses through it, pay peanuts get monkeys. 

Anonymous 23 December 21 11:45

No. The monkeys are driving the coach. The horse is getting pissed in a bar and we've sold our last bag of nuts to keep the gas on.

undervalued GLD lawyer 07 January 22 00:06

Outsiders! There is no such thing as one GLD. There are many versions of reality of one organisation who has the habit of congratulating itself without really getting a real grip for change.

It is true that there are interesting works such as critiquing national policies from birth, which affects millions, and also there are moments when one mutes Teams to swear, when your clients do not know how to do their job or point blank refuses to think, so babysitting is also part of the job a lot of the time. Don't even get me started on ministers' behaviour. This government's are particularly ignorant about the law.

There are brilliant lawyers who teach policy clients how to think and practically write the policy on some occasions and those who past the buck and give skimpy advice. There are people who joined before the current pay deal (which is universally considered a disgrace even just compared to other public sector employers like HMRC) who have a much better salary than those who joined more recently.

Also true that many have left in recent times, surely for personal reasons as well but there is a widespread discontent about pay - which senior leadership do not even pretend that is not there,  and a sense that we are considered second-class public lawyers (again, not comparing to private sector for more than one reason) because our senior leadership is well, second class. Many stay, feeling sad and underappreciated, and try to find a way to bring up their family on the pay. And no, many many of us do not have rick parents or spouses, we just make do, like many in society.

Promotion to senior level (G6) is hit and miss, many are outright blocked from promotion for quota reasons, or no reasons, and it often depends who your Deputy Director is, some mighty some have literally no say among senior leadership in the division. Quality of work is not monitored, noone has the time and ability to judge what I do because I am the only expert in the immediate vicity (!) and is maintained on the basis of personal pride, mostly. Appraisal is a joke and everyone knows it. The socalled managed move (same level move from one department to the next, every few years) is a prime example of how we GLD lawyers are not considered individual but just a number. It is well known to be a totally disrespectful process where individual wishes are blatantly disregarded (these wishes do not seem to cost management anything, as they often place people who did not ask for the job in it, while those who asked for it, not, without no explanation whatsoever).

Every 3 and 4 year, you move job and join a new area of law and see a sea of emails saved in a massive folder, no structure, no guidance. If that. There is no knowledge management to speak off - just learn the law from scratch yourself and good luck. It is harder to be a government lawyer than a City transactional lawyer for sure, I have done both, I know.

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