Solicitor vs Investment Banking (Private Equity) Watch

Cowtheduck
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#21
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#21
Simmer down, hotshot. Why not do a couple of law and IB spring weeks and find out straight from partners and MDs, or better yet, find out if you like either industry to begin with?

I concur with everyone above that you're generalising too much - even in BBs, hours vary heavily between teams and divisions, I doubt GS TMT works the same hours as CS global markets. Same for law - at CC M&A there'll be weeks when you don't go home, and weeks with no deal flow and you go home at 6. Or you could go home at 7 quite consistently in tax.

Salaries for partners and MDs also vary heavily. Some firms, like Slaughters, pay all their equity partners the same depending on seniority (lockstep) but it also means that if you're not pulling your weight you'd be asked to leave; other firms are performance-based. Top US law firms tend to have higher profit per equity partner (PEP) than magic circles. Not sure about MD pay but it's hard to imagine it's not tied to performance. PE pay obviously depends - you'll get significantly more at Blackstone and Carlyle than at the average Canadian pension fund.

"Top law firm" isn't helpful - what metric are you going by? Global giants like Baker McKenzie or Piper are very "top" in terms of revenue, but don't exactly pay too well at trainee or NQ level. If you mean "top" as in do lots of FT-headline type work, then magic circles are consistently ranked better (and in more practice areas) than US firms in London but pay considerably less.

A bit of googling wouldn't hurt either, nothing anyone has said in this thread can't already be found online somewhere.
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lawboi98
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#22
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(Original post by Cowtheduck)
Simmer down, hotshot. Why not do a couple of law and IB spring weeks and find out straight from partners and MDs, or better yet, find out if you like either industry to begin with?

I concur with everyone above that you're generalising too much - even in BBs, hours vary heavily between teams and divisions, I doubt GS TMT works the same hours as CS global markets. Same for law - at CC M&A there'll be weeks when you don't go home, and weeks with no deal flow and you go home at 6. Or you could go home at 7 quite consistently in tax.

Salaries for partners and MDs also vary heavily. Some firms, like Slaughters, pay all their equity partners the same depending on seniority (lockstep) but it also means that if you're not pulling your weight you'd be asked to leave; other firms are performance-based. Top US law firms tend to have higher profit per equity partner (PEP) than magic circles. Not sure about MD pay but it's hard to imagine it's not tied to performance. PE pay obviously depends - you'll get significantly more at Blackstone and Carlyle than at the average Canadian pension fund.

"Top law firm" isn't helpful - what metric are you going by? Global giants like Baker McKenzie or Piper are very "top" in terms of revenue, but don't exactly pay too well at trainee or NQ level. If you mean "top" as in do lots of FT-headline type work, then magic circles are consistently ranked better (and in more practice areas) than US firms in London but pay considerably less.

A bit of googling wouldn't hurt either, nothing anyone has said in this thread can't already be found online somewhere.
This is spot on. OP needs to actually speak to someone working at a firm instead of fawning at the firms’ career websites. Apply for Spring Weeks (many as your success ratio won’t be great with your apparent naivety), Go to open days and insight presentations - most important I’ve found is to network with trainees/analysts. Then you can be at least somewhat informed and might have a shot at a summer IBD role or Law Vac Scheme.
Last edited by lawboi98; 3 weeks ago
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jacketpotato
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#23
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While people are correct to point out that "it depends", there is some useful information that can be given.

As you are referring to "top law firms", we should probably focus on looking at the Magic Circle firms which are generally seen as the most prestigious corporate/commercial type law firms. It is true that some of the American firms pay more, but the top-paying American firms are a very small slice of the market, and there are disadvantages with working for them (e.g. the experience and training is typically not as good early in one's career and career advancement opportunities can be very dependent on approval from remote US offices).

You can find pay information on https://www.rollonfriday.com/inside-info.

The average equity partner at somewhere like Freshfields or Allen & Overy gets £1.5 million a year.

People are typically getting made up to partner these days at those sorts of firms something like 10-14 PQE, so if you did want to stay in law you might make it to partner perhaps 12-16 years after you start as a trainee solicitor. People often spend perhaps 3 years as a salaried partner before making it on to equity.

I am sure you will be able to google information on how much people get paid in investment banking and private equity separately. I imagine that remuneration in those sectors will vary a bit more from year-to-year and depending on individual performance than in law. The amounts partners get paid are linked to individual performance to an extent, but still often linked to lockstep (particularly in the Magic Circle firms).

Of course you could also choose to work for another firm which pays a bit less, but offers you work you are more interested in and a better work life balance. That can be a very sensible personal choice.
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Human_bean
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#24
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(Original post by jacketpotato)
While people are correct to point out that "it depends", there is some useful information that can be given.

As you are referring to "top law firms", we should probably focus on looking at the Magic Circle firms which are generally seen as the most prestigious corporate/commercial type law firms. It is true that some of the American firms pay more, but the top-paying American firms are a very small slice of the market, and there are disadvantages with working for them (e.g. the experience and training is typically not as good early in one's career and career advancement opportunities can be very dependent on approval from remote US offices).

You can find pay information on https://www.rollonfriday.com/inside-info.

The average equity partner at somewhere like Freshfields or Allen & Overy gets £1.5 million a year.

People are typically getting made up to partner these days at those sorts of firms something like 10-14 PQE, so if you did want to stay in law you might make it to partner perhaps 12-16 years after you start as a trainee solicitor. People often spend perhaps 3 years as a salaried partner before making it on to equity.

I am sure you will be able to google information on how much people get paid in investment banking and private equity separately. I imagine that remuneration in those sectors will vary a bit more from year-to-year and depending on individual performance than in law. The amounts partners get paid are linked to individual performance to an extent, but still often linked to lockstep (particularly in the Magic Circle firms).

Of course you could also choose to work for another firm which pays a bit less, but offers you work you are more interested in and a better work life balance. That can be a very sensible personal choice.
Wise words for a jacket potato 👌
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lawboi98
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#25
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#25
(Original post by jacketpotato)
While people are correct to point out that "it depends", there is some useful information that can be given.

As you are referring to "top law firms", we should probably focus on looking at the Magic Circle firms which are generally seen as the most prestigious corporate/commercial type law firms. It is true that some of the American firms pay more, but the top-paying American firms are a very small slice of the market, and there are disadvantages with working for them (e.g. the experience and training is typically not as good early in one's career and career advancement opportunities can be very dependent on approval from remote US offices).

You can find pay information on https://www.rollonfriday.com/inside-info.

The average equity partner at somewhere like Freshfields or Allen & Overy gets £1.5 million a year.

People are typically getting made up to partner these days at those sorts of firms something like 10-14 PQE, so if you did want to stay in law you might make it to partner perhaps 12-16 years after you start as a trainee solicitor. People often spend perhaps 3 years as a salaried partner before making it on to equity.

I am sure you will be able to google information on how much people get paid in investment banking and private equity separately. I imagine that remuneration in those sectors will vary a bit more from year-to-year and depending on individual performance than in law. The amounts partners get paid are linked to individual performance to an extent, but still often linked to lockstep (particularly in the Magic Circle firms).

Of course you could also choose to work for another firm which pays a bit less, but offers you work you are more interested in and a better work life balance. That can be a very sensible personal choice.
Mostly sound advice. One thing I would note is that some American firms have/are expanding aggressively and more than match the magic circle in quality of work. The training in a fair amount of US firms, whilst having a different focus, will be not dissimilar in quality from the MC. Case in point are places like Latham and White & Case which take a fair number of trainees each year and have more than established London offices with autonomous decision making power.
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jacketpotato
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#26
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Yes indeed. Some of the US firms offer a very attractive proposition compared to the MC in terms of pay, quality of training and work life balance (in my humble opinion).

There are still disadvantages to those firms though (particularly in economic downturns where the US firms have historically been much more brutal in terms of freezing people's advancement and making people redundant), and it is still the case that the number of trainees (and certainly partners) taken by the "top" US firms is much smaller than the number of trainees taken by the "top" UK firms.

I say "top" because the type of work those firms do and the long hours that involves are not for everybody !!!

As the MC firms have upped their salaries significantly in the last 2-3 years, there is no longer such a big pay gap between the MC firms and the mid-Atlantic firms like Goodwin, Orrick, Dechert and others - which all offer very good salaries but not quite the hours requirements of somewhere like Latham.

If the Op is trying to make an assessment of what they might get paid if going to a "top" UK firm and slogging away with long hours over many years I think the Magic Circle is a fair place to start.
Last edited by jacketpotato; 3 weeks ago
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That'sGreat
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#27
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#27
(Original post by Cowtheduck)
Simmer down, hotshot. Why not do a couple of law and IB spring weeks and find out straight from partners and MDs, or better yet, find out if you like either industry to begin with?

I concur with everyone above that you're generalising too much - even in BBs, hours vary heavily between teams and divisions, I doubt GS TMT works the same hours as CS global markets. Same for law - at CC M&A there'll be weeks when you don't go home, and weeks with no deal flow and you go home at 6. Or you could go home at 7 quite consistently in tax.

Salaries for partners and MDs also vary heavily. Some firms, like Slaughters, pay all their equity partners the same depending on seniority (lockstep) but it also means that if you're not pulling your weight you'd be asked to leave; other firms are performance-based. Top US law firms tend to have higher profit per equity partner (PEP) than magic circles. Not sure about MD pay but it's hard to imagine it's not tied to performance. PE pay obviously depends - you'll get significantly more at Blackstone and Carlyle than at the average Canadian pension fund.

"Top law firm" isn't helpful - what metric are you going by? Global giants like Baker McKenzie or Piper are very "top" in terms of revenue, but don't exactly pay too well at trainee or NQ level. If you mean "top" as in do lots of FT-headline type work, then magic circles are consistently ranked better (and in more practice areas) than US firms in London but pay considerably less.

A bit of googling wouldn't hurt either, nothing anyone has said in this thread can't already be found online somewhere.
I asked questions, if you want to answer them, fine, if you don’t, then don’t comment. Pretty much everything said on this thread I knew already, I am interested in the fields and wanted to find out more about some things which, when searching online, often had conflicting results. People are literally going out of their way to not answer the question and getting offended, if you don’t know the answer, don’t respond.

As for generalisation, I don’t have the time to list every single firm I consider top, but perhaps I could have been more specific. Not that it would have resulted in me getting any answers. “And everyone above” obviously isn’t including the people who just went off on one about how I don’t know the industry, despite them being wrong and it not being any of their concern.

- But ballpark figures from people with an idea are easy enough to provide.

“Nothing anyone as said in the thread can’t already be found online somewhere” hence why i never asked them those questions.
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Varis
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#28
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#28
(Original post by That'sGreat)
I am doing a History degree at Durham and was wondering about these two career options. Investment Banking (transition to PE after 2 years is the hope) is known to pay well, but the work life balance is terrible and it involves quite a bit of maths (though not so much as an analyst, more just grunt work). Law however, whilst paying less, does seem to have a better work life balance, and the idea of commercial law would mean I still get to work with big businesses, which would be my passion. I just had a couple questions

1) Do partners at top law firms earn more than partners/MDs at top bulge brackets? Or what’s the comparison?

2) How quickly can you make partner at a top law firm if you are good at your job and network efficiently?

3) Is commercial law a good area if you hope to break out into setting up your own business or advising start-ups?

Note: I understand it’s a career, you need to pick the one you like best. However, my passion is working with big businesses, and these both offer interesting perspectives into doing so
Disclaimer: This is based on my experiences / research

1. At the very top law firms (in terms of compensation), the honest answer is that it depends. It depends on the compensation package of both the law firm you're comparing with and the MDs. People have already rightly pointed our different roles / sectors play a huge part to compensation.

The best thing you can do is try to apply for Spring / Summer analyst roles whilst doing first year and Easter / Summer vacation schemes. If you can secure both, you can consider both. If you're struggling to do so, it really is inconsequential thinking about this type of stuff.

If you're talking about most money + best work life balance, you're looking at the wrong places (Law / PE / BBs). You should look at a quant role or a tech firm. Quant being the best of both, whilst Tech being generally well compensated and good work life (+ culture, depending on the firm).

Although, Durham History probably does not prepare you at all for a quant role straight out of university. Funds often look at Ivy League / Oxbridge and those with financial engineering degrees or mathematics (but this is not a hard and fast rule).

2. 7 Years at some firms (or out) or on average, 8-14 years. Not including your training contract period. (The range depends statistically on your gender, ethnicity, etc etc).

3. Not really if we're talking about 'all' the roles available in the world. You're probably better equipped to set up a larger range of businesses if you did consulting, although compensation is worse than law and banking generally.

Hope this helps.
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