Men are earning on average nearly 20% more than women, latest Law Society research suggests, despite the gender pay gap falling to its narrowest since 2008.

A survey of private practice solicitors’ salaries shows that male salaried partners at the top end of the earnings bracket make as much as £60,000 more than women in the same category.

Male equity partners can earn as much as £30,000 more than women at the top end of the salary bracket. The gap is lowest at assistant/associate level, with men earning £4,000 more.

However, the survey states that since 2000, women assistant/associates’ median earnings have increased by 18.6%, compared to a 10.2% jump for men. ‘Upper quartile’ earnings have increased by a third for women, compared to 9.5% for men.

The gender pay gap based on median earnings for assistants/associates last year fell from 20% in 2014 to 10.6% last year. The gap was narrower in London (4.3%) than elsewhere (10%).

The report is based on 491 solicitors - surveyed for last year’s PC Holder survey - who provided full salary data, worked full time and were either on a permanent contract or at partner (or equivalent) level.

Highlighting the lure and cost of living and working in the capital, top salaries in Greater London are as much as £57,000 more than those in the Midlands and Wales.

Those who specialised in business and commercial affairs, commercial property, employment and family law, had higher earnings than non-specialists.

At the top end of the earnings bracket, equity partners who did not have legal aid private clients earned earned as much as £125,000 than those who did.

Those who spent, at most, half of their fee-earning time with legal aid clients earned over £20,000 more than those who spent at least half of their time with legal aid clients.