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This article, like many others, was first published exclusively for long-term supporters, some time before everyone else got to read it.

2016 law firm salary surveys bonanza: Find out if you're over- or under-paid

One thing is for sure: There is no gold standard in law firms when it comes to how much you get paid

Please hover over each line in the chart to see individual figures according to each recruiter (click here to view larger version of chart in new window)

Q: How much can you earn as a lawyer in a law firm? A: It really really depends...
Q: How much can you earn as a lawyer in a law firm? A: It really really depends...

The range of salaries at India's law firms is wider than ever, with even a 10-year PQE (post qualification experience) lawyer on remuneration (including bonuses) potentially ranging all the way from Rs 25 lakh per annum to Rs 200 lakh, according to salary data from four legal recruitment consultants compiled by Legally India.

According to data from recruiters Aquis Search, Legal League Consulting, Michael Page and Vahura, even for entry level lawyers who just graduated from college there is a wide potential range from between Rs 5 lakh per year (Legal League figures) to Rs 18.2 lakh (Aquis figures).

(See more on our previous surveys of starting salaries here).

Each recruiter has reflected ranges of salaries for ranges of several years of seniority, which means that the numbers for each point of seniority are a little fuzzy.

Also, in light of the wide ranges, especially between different recruiters' assessments of the market, no figure in isolation should be taken as gospel.

There is also the fact that recruiters' maximum recorded salaries are likely to be higher than average, because job moves with the largest salary hikes could be down to only a few top performers, who are relative statistical outliers.

However, when combined as in the chart above, this gives an amalgamation of indicative, average ranges.

Our previous in-house salary surveys in 2011, in 2011 and 2012 had revealed a similarly large divergence of figures between firms, often even within the same firms.

(see full tabulation of our 2012 data at the bottom of this article, or click here for the full story and graphic from 2012).

Versus 2012: Top end appears to have sky-rocketed (or is it the recruiter effect?)

We have also compared Legally India's 2012 survey of tier 1 and 2 firms, and the 2016 recruiters' data, which suggests that at the more senior end of the market, remuneration has more than doubled.

However, it is difficult to infer precise pay increases across the board from this, due to the time elapsed, the different methodologies used, and recruiters usually being involved in placing candidates with pay-hikes.

That said, according to the data, it appears that maximum salary ranges have increased in the last four years across the board from between around 20% to 40%, particularly at the more senior levels:

PQE 2012
(approximate maximums)
0 15 18.2
1 16 22
2 18 26
3 20 34
5 23 40
6 38 65
7 55 80

Mumbai-Delhi divide

Legal League and Michael Page have also broken their figures down by city.

On average, according to Legal League's figures, Mumbai law firms pay around 10% more than firms in Delhi, while according to Michael Page, the difference can be around 20%.

Legal League had also divided its figures between what it calls tier 1 and tier 2 law firms, which suggest that tier 1 firms pay between 30% and 50% more than tier 2 firms.

Full tabulation of all recruiters original figures below, in alphabetical order.

Aquis Search 2016 figures

PQE Designation Law firms Delhi / Mumbai (Rs lakh)
0 Entry Level Associate 11.2 - 18.2
1-2 Associate 14.4 - 22
2-3 Associate 17.4 - 26.4
3-4 Associate 19.8 - 34
4-6 Senior Associate 28.6 - 52
6-8 PA / MA 44.2 - 80
8-12 Salaried/Retained/
Associate Partner
70 - 200

Legal League Consulting 2016 figures

 PQE Designation Tier 1 law firms Delhi
(Rs lakh)
Tier 1 Mumbai Tier 2 law firms Delhi Tier 2 law firms Mumbai
0-5 Associate 8-24 9-25 5-15 7-16
5-8 Senior Associate 18-55 22-60 14-25 16-28
8-12 PA/Counsel/MA/
55-70 55-75 25-40 28-45
10+ Partner 65-100+ 70-120+ 40-65+ 45-90+

Michael Page 2016 figures

  Law firm Delhi
(Rs lakh)
Law firm Mumbai
(Rs lakh)
3-5 12-20 12-25
5-10 20-60 25-75
10-15 60-100 75-120
15+ 100++ 120++

Vahura 2016 figures

PQE Law firms (Rs lakh)
1-3 9.5 - 25.4
3-5 19.8 - 43
5-8 35 - 72
8-10 62 - 110
10-15 90 - 175
15+ 120 - 250

Legally India 2012 salary survey figures, for reference

Via survey of 400 lawyers in early 2012.

PQE Tier 1 Remuneration
(incl bonus, Rs lakh)
Tier 2 remuneration
(incl bonus, Rs lakh)
0 12-15 9-11
1 13-16 10-13
2 15-18 11.5-15
3 17-20 13.5-17
4 18-23 15-20
5 20.5-30 17-25
6 22-38 19-30
7 24-55 22-40

Leglaly India's 2012's salary survey (graphic via Mint)
Leglaly India's 2012's salary survey (graphic via Mint)

The above data was first published in our exclusive subscribers-only newsletter last week. To get news and insider info first, please subscribe below:

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