Soaring City salaries for newly qualifieds amount to a ‘bribe’ aimed at inducing junior lawyers to work in a ‘dysfunctional environment’, according to a pioneering solicitor. 

Interviewed for the Gazette today, Dana Denis-Smith, founder of the First 100 Years project and chief executive of a 1,700-lawyer legal outsourcing business, said: ‘Everybody knows [the] culture is broken in law firms.’

City firms were ‘bribing people back into the culture’ rather than tackling difficult issues relating to working conditions, she alleged. City firms believe ‘you always have enough people queueing up to train and to get some good money’. 

Denis-Smith noted the ways traditional law firm culture falls short. The hierarchy, the hours, a ‘military regime style of ruling a firm’ and lack of control of one’s working life all need to be tackled, she added. 

Salaries for junior City lawyers have soared recently amid tough competition from US firms with London offices. This upward pressure on pay comes in a year when PwC’s annual survey showed the top-100 expect fee income to fall by 0.1%.