THE minimum starting salary in a large national or international firm in Australia has reached $55,000, compared to $35,000 in smaller local firms.
Pay may be better, but those same lawyers also work an additional 10 hours a week, doing 50-hour weeks.
The new survey, released by global recruitment website Twosteps.com, reveals lawyers with one year PQE in Australian can expect to earn between $35,000 and $80,000, with the average salary being about $45,000.
Those new lawyers working in national firms earn an additional $10,000 to those in local firms.
New lawyers can expect no more than 20 days holiday a year, and are unlikely to get a bonus, the survey shows.
"However if you are fortunate enough to work for a generous firm that gives you a bonus, then it won't be more than 10 per cent of your salary," the writers reveal in the survey.
Only Government lawyers receive benefits, but most firms offer good career development, networking and training opportunities in their first year in.
Lawyers with two year PQE will earn anything from $45,000 to $105,000. The income is affected by age, the size of the firm, and whether the firm is local, national or international, the survey reports.
"Naturally, a large national firm with 1000 to 10,000 employees or more, or any sized international firm, is going to be paying more than a local firm," the survey says.
"We didn't see any significant trends by city and the average working week for all responses (with 2 year PQE) was around 35-45 hours."
At this level, about 40 per cent of lawyers receive a bonus that is usually less than 10 per cent of their salary. An international firm will pay up to 50 per cent bonuses at this level.
Income and hours both pick up for lawyers with three PQE, the survey reveals. A lawyer at this level can expect to earn $75,000 to $120,000, but will be working 60 to 70 hours a week, and up to 80 in some firms.
Most lawyers at this level receive a bonus of about 10 per cent of their salary, but this can reach 30 per cent in some firms. Lawyers at this level are still getting about 20 days holidays, will start getting involved in pro bono work, and will start receiving better career opportunities and training.