England: Survey of NQ salaries find that ‘it pays to be posh’

Half of trainees joining top law firms were privately educated and will earn more than their state school colleagues as they progress in their careers, The Times reports.

A new survey shows that there is a bias towards privately educated candidates at top-paying law firms despite attempts by the profession to improves access.

Last year, an average of 51 per cent of trainees joining leading firms were educated at state schools. The remainder were privately educated, though only seven per cent of the population of the UK attended private schools.

The analysis by Chambers Student also looked at the average salaries for newly qualified solicitors who were privately educated.

Firms that offer NQs salaries of £100,000 and above have an average of 19 per cent state educated lawyers.

Firms whose starting salaries are between £60,000 and £80,000 have between 40 and 59 per cent state-educated solicitors in the trainee group.

Those offering less than £60,000 have between 60 and 100 per cent state-educated entrants.

Sal Francis Morton, a researcher on the project, said: “The implication is that it pays to be posh. The firms with the strongest bias towards privately ­educated graduates pay twice as much as the firms most open to state-schooled graduates.

“In the three years we have seen an unremarkable one per cent increase in state-schooled graduates joining firms. A few firms stand out for recognition: of the large employers we would ­highlight Slaughter and May, which now leads the ‘magic circle’ for ­state-schooled trainees at 45.7 per cent after a significant increase over three intakes, from 30 per cent in 2016.”