Starting salaries at magic circle firms are nearly double the national average, according to a survey published today.

Research from legal recruiter BCL Legal – covering the commercial litigation, insurance, corporate and property sectors – found the national average salary for newly qualified solicitors is £33,000.

The survey of 400 respondents revealed those at magic circle receive an average salary of £64,000.

US firms based in the UK pay nearly three times the national average, with starting salaries up to £90,000.

The highest regional salary was in London at £51,000, followed by £36,000 for NQs working in the home counties.

The lowest salary recorded was for NQs working in small firms in the north-west, earning £27,750 on average.

James Batt, managing director of BCL Legal, said areas of corporate, commercial property and banking have been particularly strong.

‘Our prediction is that the market will continue to evolve and NQs will need to adapt to those changes – especially as more mergers and acquisitions will no doubt happen over the next 12 months,’ he said.

Figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency from the class of 2008/09 found that law graduates earned an average of £26,000 in November 2012, £1,500 less than the overall average of that year’s graduates.

Chair of the Junior Lawyers Division Heather Iqbal-Rayner attributed this to the shrinking proportion of graduates who go on to become practising solicitors, as training contracts become increasingly difficult to secure.