Parents encourage their children to work hard in school and take up professions such as medicine or law because they’re deemed to be respectable and well-paid. According to Forbes Magazine, fresh graduates from prestigious law schools can, for instance, make GBP 120,000 per year. The figure can be higher or lower depending on the country the graduates choose to live and work in. Here are the top ten countries with the highest paid salaries for lawyers, based on information gathered from Robert Walters’ 2016 Salary Survey.
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10. United Kingdom
Average salary: £74,111
It has been a difficult period for the UK, with the instability of Brexit hot on the tails of an already devastating economic crisis. But things are looking up, and the British government reported growth of 0.6% in last quarter of the ’16. The fifth largest economy in the world when it comes to gross domestic product, the British economy is primarily based in the service industry but is also the 9th largest exporter of goods in the world. The UK also touts a robust aerospace industry which produces much of its GDP. It seems that lawyers are feeling the small economic upswing as private practice law professionals with four years’ of experience make up to £74,111. 10th may be the last slot on the list, but it’s still a decent salary.
Average salary: £76,502.82
Belgium has long used its central location within Europe to its financial benefit. Since being the second country after Britain to experience an industrial revolution, it has remained a small but powerful economy. It was one of the founding members of the European Economic Community which eventually evolved into the European Union, further bolstering its advantageous economic position. Despite being affected by the recent economic downturn, the economy is still strong, and it has the 24th highest GDP in the world (gross domestic product) which is high for such a small country.
Although almost all professionals enjoy a high quality of life and globally competitive salaries, Lawyers with five to seven years’ of experience are paid £76,502.82 making them the ninth highest paid law professionals in the world.
Average salary: £78,138.88
Although Singapore is the one of the smallest countries in the world it has one of the most robust economies in Asia. Most of the country’s economy is based in the service industry, but they also export electronics and biomedical technology and their economy is predicted to grow at 1 to 3% this coming year. Probably the smallest country on the list Singapore holds the 8th highest position for Lawyer’s salaries at £78,138.88.
Average salary: £89,734.41
The island nation remained relatively unscathed by the global economic crisis and completely avoided a recession (which cannot be said of most of the other countries on this list). In fact, Australia managed to prove that trickle-down economic reforms are a complete waste of time, by sending each and every Australia household a $900 check to stimulate spending. Australia is one of the largest markets in the world, with a high quality of life and competitive global salaries. This is reflected in how they offer the 7th highest salaries to lawyers in the world. The average salary for people in private practice with 0 – 3 years of experience is £89,734.41.
Average salary: £110,510.73
Lawyers in France earn more money per year than their Australian counterparts as they take home over £110,510.73. But, the cost of living in France is quite high, and the tax and social security contributions are some of the highest in the world. So although you may earn a lot as a lawyer in France, you're probably saving less, making France sixth in the list of countries with high remuneration packages for lawyers.
Average salary: £110,999.59
Japan is known for its technological superiority, but its economy isn’t just based on exporting of electronics and technology. It currently has the 3rd highest GDP in the world and the fourth highest purchasing power. Their economy today focuses on automobiles, precision and high-tech goods. In fact, it is the world’s third largest manufacturer of cars.
But, not everything is high profits and high GDP for Japan; it’s extremely healthy economy is being threatened by an ageing working population and an extremely low birth-rate. This will eventually result in a generation of individuals on social benefits without enough people being employed to replenish social security funds. Lawyers in Japan won’t have any problems if they put aside some of their £110,999.59, which makes them the 5th highest compensated practitioners of law.
4. South Africa
Average salary: £140,332.44
It’s Africa’s second wealthiest country (after Nigeria) and has a steadily growing middle-class. One of only four other countries in Africa to enjoy an upper-middle-income economy, S. Africa not only has a strong economy but it also has a growing one. This growing economy is shown by having the fourth best-paid lawyers in the world that make an annual salary of £140,332.44, with just 1-3 years of experience.
3. Hong Kong
Average salary: £143,102.60
Known as the “Fragrant Bay” or the “Pearl of the Orient” Hong Kong has established itself as one of the primary financial hubs of the Asian Continent. With an economy largely based on the financial sector and the service industry, Hong Kong has evolved into a multicultural melting pot, due to its high salaries and quality of life. Lawyers in Hong Kong also enjoy this high quality of life and extremely competitive wages, the third-best in the world in fact. For example, an attorney with 1-3 years of experience in private practice has the potential to make a whopping £143,102.60.
Average salary: £153,075.54
It is no surprise that one of the world’s leading financial industry power-houses and foremost economies would have well-compensated workers. Not only is Switzerland known for its banking sector its citizens’ also enjoy one of the highest qualities of life across the world. A lawyer with between 3-7 years of experience can make an astounding £153,075.54 per year. Although the cost of living can be high, it is balanced out by the subsidies healthcare, and education.
1. United States
Average salary: £166,510.23
At the top of the list is one of the world’s most litigious countries in the world: the United States. Lawyers are extremely high-value individuals in the States, that charge extraordinary amounts of money for their services. An American Lawyer with a mere one to four years of experience can bring home a whopping £166,510.23.
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If you’re out on an international job hunt as a legal expert, you may want to consider the top ten countries with the highest salaries for lawyers before looking elsewhere. If you are a lawyer employed in any of the countries on this list, let us know about your experience working in the legal field in the comment section below.
This article is an updated version of an earlier article originally published in December 2014.