What does a ‘typical’ solicitor earn? Less than politicians with an axe to grind would have you believe.
Ever considered leaving the law and taking up guiding planes – or driving a train? There’s a more than even chance you could be laughing all the way to the bank.
The annual pay survey by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) contains an arresting number that ought to be assimilated by the lord chancellor, tabloid press and myriad other peddlers of the politically convenient ‘fat-cat lawyer’ myth.
The median full-time pay of a solicitor in 2013/14 was £41,178 – half earned more, half less.
Not an insubstantial sum, warranted, when the median pay of all full-time workers came in at just over £22,000. And it’s up on last year (£40,081), the number-crunchers tell me. But this still places lawyering well outside the 10 highest-earning occupations, in the same category as rolling-stock repairers and mechanical engineers. Nurses, those angels of mercy so fulsomely courted by politicians and Fleet Street, aren’t so far behind, on £32,000.
A train driver, I was interested to note, earns £48,000 and an air traffic controller a gratifying £78,874. You really don’t want either operative to hit the wrong button on the dashboard – but still.
Oh, and incidentally: the basic salary of a member of parliament (a post for which there are dozens of applicants per vacancy; which requires no qualifications; which is largely unregulated; and which has no required working hours) is £67,030.
The ONS survey confirms the general plunge in living standards attendant upon the UK’s painful encounter with, and emergence from, recession. In 2014 wages fell 1.6% in real terms, back to levels last seen in the early 2000s.
But the BBC - which last week decided the biggest financial scandal in British history was not worth reporting on its homepage (I digress) - unsurprisingly opted to accentuate the positive.
This is that the average full-time pay gap between men and women is at its narrowest since comparative records began in 1997. The difference stood at 9.4% in April, compared with 10% a year earlier.
In this, it would seem, the law is moving in the wrong direction. According to Law Society figures, in the solicitors profession the gender pay gap has actually risen, with women’s salaries on average 30% lower across all areas of private practice in 2013. In 2012, the gap was 27%.
Of course, you can prove anything with statistics. Even the truth.
Paul Rogerson is Gazette editor-in-chief