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Starting salaries for lawyers: six-figure amounts are no longer uncommon

Since the career prospects for lawyers in 2019 are better than they have been for a long time and lawyers are desperately looking for, graduates can look forward to high starting salaries. These have always been quite generous compared to other professions, but in the past two years the earnings have risen significantly again, as reported by the study and career advice center of the law faculty of the University of Cologne.

In general, there is a wide range of starting salaries. It depends on several factors, with the grade of the two state exams, especially the second, still playing a decisive role for lawyers. Academic degrees, additional qualifications acquired during the course, the choice of legal area, the size of the law firm, the state and soft skills are also relevant for the starting salary.

Graduates with two distinctive exams, ie with the grade “fully satisfactory” or better, can look forward to extremely good starting salaries. While six-digit euro amounts were still the exception in 2016, top law firms are paying such a gross annual salary more and more frequently in 2019 in order to get very well-trained offspring. In well-known large law firms, up to 140,000 euros a year can be waved directly to join. As the graduate barometer 2018 of the market research company Trendence shows, the salary of the fully qualified lawyers questioned with distinction exams is 70,100 euros, that of the men surveyed is 75,200 euros.

In the so-called boutiques, i.e. the law firms with 50 or fewer lawyers, the starting salary is usually between 60,000 and 75,000 euros. In smaller law firms with ten or fewer lawyers, which dominate the German legal services market, young lawyers usually start with an average of 38,000 to 55,000 euros per year.

Lawyers who specialize in commercial, corporate, insolvency, banking or capital markets law receive an above-average salary. In contrast, lawyers who specialize in social, criminal, family and tenancy law earn less than the average.

And the location also has an impact on earnings: generous salaries are available in the metropolises of Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich, Stuttgart and Cologne, while significantly lower salaries are to be expected, especially in the new federal states.