Legal Market

London continues to be a major financial hub and the European base for many multinational corporations.  Reflecting this is a vast legal community of UK, US and international law firms.  Marsden International acts for all the major firms and is on the select “preferred agency” lists for these major firms giving us direct access to the roles and decision makers.

London attracts lawyers from all over the world keen to work on some of the most complex, international and exciting deals conceivable.  

Many of the lawyers we work with are already in London and looking to move within the London market. We are also a major recruiter of overseas lawyers in to London from Asia, Australia, Canada, Mainland Europe, New Zealand, South Africa and the US plus those looking to return home.

2012 will be a challenging year for some businesses as the economy recovers.  That said, there is still considerable recruitment across the spectrum of law firms in London.  Particular areas of demand include; arbitration/litigation, competition and employment, contentious IP/ IT/outsourcing, financial services/regulatory, funds, pensions, construction, finance and restructuring.  Corporate is slower but there is still a market for high calibre candidates looking for a domestic or international career move.


Salaries remain competitive in London. Most UK firms review in May each year and the US firms in January. The major firms have generous bonus and benefits packages in addition to salary.  

In the UK lawyers undertake a 2 year training contract before being Admitted as a qualified lawyer. A newly qualified lawyer at a “Magic Circle” or “Silver Circle” firm can expect to be paid between £61,000 - £65,000. A 2 year qualified lawyer upwards of £74,000 (assuming a September qualification date), and at 3 years qualified circa £84,000.  Salaries for senior associates increase to well over £100,000, and the major firms have Counsel on circa £150,000+.  The US firms have a diverse spectrum of salaries. Some pay "New York rates" in London whilst other pay what they term "Mid Atlantic" i.e. somewhere between London and NY rates.  


To work as a lawyer in the UK, you will need a visa – assuming you don’t have a UK or other EU passport or UK ancestry rights (i.e. parents or grandparents born in the UK). If your spouse has a visa to work in the UK, or has a right to work through citizenship or ancestry rights, you may also be entitled to work through your spouse’s work entitlement.  Law firms can sponsor a lawyer to work, a Tier 2 visa.  

For up to date advice on visa requirements for the UK visit the Home Office website.


The QLTS (Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme) has been in place since September 2010 replacing the QLTT.  The first step is for the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) to issue an applicant with a certificate of eligibility. Thereafter three assessments need to be completed by all international lawyers irrespective of experience and training. The first test (MCT) is multiple choice which is followed by the OSCE , a practical test of advocacy and interviewing  and the third test ( TLST) is a technical legal skills test, testing research, drafting. For further details please contact the SRA or Law Society of England and Wales.


London is home to some of the world’s best architecture, fashion, theatre, food and art.  Sport is popular with soccer, cricket, rugby and tennis drawing millions of spectators. Most of the City firms offer gym memberships as part of their benefits packages and London is of course the host city for The Olympic Games in summer 2012.

Compared to many countries the UK is relatively small. That said, the variety of scenery is breathtaking and within easy reach on the weekend, as is mainland Europe. The highly competitive airline and travel industries make weekend city breaks to Amsterdam, Paris, Barcelona, Seville, Rome and Prague very affordable and accessible!

Useful Links

Legal 500
Chambers directory
The Lawyer

The Home Office
Law Society of England and Wales (for a tax calculator)