Britain's highest paid barristers command fees of up to £1.5m a year

Britain's richest barristers earn as much as £1.5m a year, according to a table of legal rankings to be published today.

Britain's richest barristers earn as much as £1.5m a year, according to a table of legal rankings to be published today.

Tax specialists are at the top of the list, charging an estimated £900 an hour in fees for advising some of the best-known companies on their tax-avoidance strategies.

Graham Aaronson QC, Michael Flesch QC and David Goldberg QC, are, according to this year's Legal 500 of leading barristers and solicitors, the highest earners at the Bar. They are closely followed by three commercial silks, led by the Labour peer Lord Grabiner QC, who are each estimated to have earned £1.25m last year. The other two are Gordon Pollock QC and Jonathan Sumption QC.

Teresa Sandon, editor of the annual rankings, which will be revealed tonight before an audience of 500 lawyers, said: "The specialist tax Bar has always offered the greatest potential rewards and has suffered less from the recent slowdown in litigation."

They can afford to charge the highest rates because they use their "financial wizardry" to save companies huge amounts in tax, she added.

Later this month a second legal table, published by Chambers & Partners, is also expected to name these six barristers as the Bar's biggest earners as well as a handful of other silks who belong to the exclusive "million-a-year club".

One silk expected to be named for the first time as a member of the club is George Carman QC, libel barrister to the stars, who announced his retirement last month after being diagnosed as suffering from prostate cancer. Although it has been often suggested that Mr Carman's practice was worth £1m a year, this is the first time he has been included.

Now much of Mr Carman's work is up for grabs and other libel lawyers are being approached as possible candidates to replace him in a series of high-profile cases due to start later this year and next year.

Ms Sandon estimated that there were no more than 15 barristers who received £1m in fees each year.

Today the Legal 500 makes clear that earnings at the Bar vary considerably and that it is the reputation of the barrister that counts the most. "A corporate tax junior of seven or eight years call [experience] can make as much, if not more, than a reasonably successful criminal silk. Top-flight silks at the commercial Bar earn four or five times as much as less successful ones," Ms Sandon said.

Hourly rates also vary from just £20 for a newly qualified barrister in criminal law to £900 an hour at the top end of the tax Bar, according to the Legal 500, which does not take account of deductions for tax and chambers rent.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower