ABS Lawyers are Highest Paid in the Profession


Securitization and structured finance lawyers are amongst the most highly paid in the legal profession, according to a survey conducted by U.K. legal journal In Brief.

While that might come as a surprise to anyone who has tried to get a securitization lawyer to buy their round, it doesn't surprise lawyers or legal recruitment firms.

"The lucrative rewards tend to be concentrated in specific areas ... in the capital markets and esoteric areas like structured finance," said Simon Janion of recruiters

EJ Legal. "These are complex, fast developing parts of the law [which] require intellectual and physical stamina, otherwise [lawyers] get spat out."

According to In Brief, young lawyers should head towards the securitization practices of the top City of London firms, Clifford Chance in particular, where they could earn around GBP110,000 ($178,000) a year, including bonus, before they turn 30.

However, for those lawyers who have yet to realize that there is life outside the office, American law firms offer the best rewards, offering packages that can reach GBP175,000, including bonus, for lawyers in their late 20s or early 30s.

"We have lost some associates to U.S. firms - they are offering some enormous salaries," said Lynn Maxwell, an assistant solicitor in Clifford Chance's London securitization practice. "It's very tempting - but the U.S. firms are going to work you more hours. At Gibson Dunn in Paris we were there at midnight when the Californians would say, Let's do some work', it was incredible and absolutely horrible."

Of course, if the money on offer at law firms - whether American or British - leaves young lawyers unable to keep up mortgage payments on that Chelsea flat or Manhattan loft, they can always abandon immediate prospects of partnership and move in-house at an investment bank, where salary and bonus is likely to reach the GBP250,000 mark.

"I still get calls from headhunters looking to place me in banks," said Richard Ambery, assistant solicitor in the London office of U.S. firm Titmuss Sainer Dechert. "A lot of investment banks know that they need a certain number of people from a legal background. Many investment bankers can model transactions financially in a way that no-one else can outside Wall Street, but what are the tax and insolvency law implications of that structure?"