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The pay disparity between boutique and BigLaw starters revealed

A new salary guide has highlighted a considerable difference between the lawyers starting off their careers in a top-tier firm versus those at a boutique.

user iconEmma Musgrave 15 August 2018 Big Law
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Gatehouse Legal Recruitment has just released its 2018–2019 Private Practice/Australia Salary Guide, utilising a compilation of salary and market information to determine the pay packets of lawyers at different levels of experience and place of work, including superannuation but not other bonuses or benefits.

The guide showed that lawyers first starting out with a top-tier in Melbourne earn between $70,000–$85,000. In Sydney top-tiers, those in their first year practising earn between $75,000–$90,000.


By stark comparison, those lawyers first starting out at a boutique law firm in Melbourne earn between $55,000–$75,000, while those in Sydney earn $60,000–$75,000, the report found.

Similarly, the pay disparity between partners at boutiques and those at top-tiers was also evident in the report.

At partner level in a top-tier firm in Melbourne, employees earn above $300,000 while those in Sydney earn above $320,000. In comparison, at a partner level at a boutique in Melbourne, employees earn above $200,000 and in Sydney, above $220,000 – this paints a potential $100,000 difference between partners at boutiques and partners at BigLaw in terms of salary.

The guide also offered an insight into the earnings of those first starting out at a mid-tier. In Melbourne, new starters can expect anywhere between $65,000–$80,000 if employed by a mid-tier, whereas in Sydney they can expect between $70,000–$85,000.

At a mid-tier partner level, Melbourne-based professionals can expect above $275,000 while Sydney-based professionals can expect a salary above $300,000. 


To learn more about the issues affecting boutique law firms and lawyers in Sydney and Melbourne, be sure to attend the Boutique Law Summit 2020. Book your early bird tickets here.