Salary Survey: Lawyers see demand in derivatives

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Law and investment banking are both known as well paid professions. Why not then become a lawyer in an investment bank? Why not indeed... higher salaries over last year and across sectors, particularly on the credit side, are matching expanded hiring.

A new salary survey by Sheffield Haworth, the executive search firm, suggests that banking lawyers are being paid more than last year, and that plenty of them are receiving guaranteed bonuses.

The survey, which covered lawyers at about 10 leading investment banks, found that guarantees of 50% to 100% of base pay are commonplace. After a 50% rise in bonuses at the start of 2004, senior lawyers with around seven years post-qualification experience are now on packages worth up to 200,000 (€289,000).

Siobhan Lewington, a senior consultant in Sheffield Haworth's legal team, said rising pay has been fuelled by robust hiring. 'Demand has been strongest for lawyers who can help structure equity-derivative and equity-linked products,' says Lewington, 'We expect that to continue next year, mirroring expansion of equity derivative teams in the front office.'

Investment management and private banking have also been increasing their uptake of lawyers after a quiet year for hiring in 2003.

Banks' growing appetite for lawyers is biting in at the junior end as well. Lewington says banks are hiring more people with two years' post-qualification experience. In law firms they are typically paid 58,000 to 60,000, but by moving to an investment bank they can ratchet up their pay considerably: base salaries of 70,000 to 75,000 are standard, plus a bonus of up to 50%.

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