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.

News
Waitrose will be bringing in more manned tills
newsOverheard in Waitrose: documenting the chatter in 'Britain's poshest supermarket'
Life & Style
life
Arts & Entertainment
Jack Gleeson as Joffrey Baratheon in Game of Thrones
tv
Arts & Entertainment
Ken Loach (left) and Mike Leigh who will be going head to head for one of cinema's most coveted prizes at this year's Cannes Film Festival
filmKen Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
Sport
Gareth Bale dribbled from inside his own half and finished calmly late in the final to hand Real a 2-1 win at the Mestalla in Valencia
sport
News
news
Life & Style
tech
Arts & Entertainment
Ricky Gervais at a screening of 'Muppets Most Wanted' in London last month
tvRicky Gervais on the return of 'Derek' – and why he still ignores his critics
Sport
Luis Suarez of Liverpool celebrates his goal
sport
Arts & Entertainment
James Franco and Chris O'Dowd in Of Mice and Men on Broadway
theatreReview: Of Mice and Men, Longacre Theatre
Life & Style
Infant child breast-feeding with eyes closed
healthTo stop mummy having any more babies, according to scientists
News
news
Arts & Entertainment
film
Life & Style
Going down: Google's ambition to build an elevator into space isn't likely to be fulfilled any time soon
techTechnology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
Arts & Entertainment
Homer meets Lego Marge in the 25th anniversary episode of The Simpsons, set to air on 4 May
tv
Life & Style
From long to Jong: Guy Pewsey gets the North Korean leader's look
fashionThe Independent heads to an Ealing hairdressers to try out the North Korean dictator's trademark do
Extras
indybest10 best smartphones
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?

Day In a Page

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics

Is sexual harassment a fact of gay life?

Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics
Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith: The man behind a British success story

Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith

Acton Smith launched a world of virtual creatures who took the real world by storm
Kim Jong-un's haircut: The Independent heads to Ealing to try out the dictator's do

Our journalist tries out Kim Jong-un's haircut

The North Korean embassy in London complained when M&M Hair Academy used Kim Jong-un's image in the window. Curious, Guy Pewsey heads to the hair salon and surrenders to the clippers
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part
Vespa rides on with launch of Primavera: Iconic Italian scooter still revving up millions of sales

Vespa rides on with launch of the Primavera

The Vespa has been a style icon since the 1950s and the release this month of its latest model confirms it has lost little of its lustre
Record Store Day: Independent music shops can offer a tempting alternative to downloads

Record Store Day celebrates independent music shops

This Saturday sees a host of events around the country to champion the sellers of well-grooved wax
Taunton's policy of putting philosophy at heart of its curriculum is one of secrets of its success

Education: Secret of Taunton's success

Taunton School, in Somerset, is one of the country's leading independent schools, says Richard Garner
10 best smartphones

10 best smartphones

With a number of new smartphones on the market, we round up the best around, including some more established models
Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

The former Australia coach on why England must keep to Plan A, about his shock at their collapse Down Under, why he sent players home from India and the agonies of losing his job
Homelessness: Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Zubairi Sentongo swapped poverty in Uganda for homelessness in Britain. But a YMCA scheme connected him with a couple offering warmth and shelter
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park
The pain of IVF

The pain of IVF

As an Italian woman vows to keep the babies from someone else’s eggs, Julian Baggini ponders how the reality of childbirth is often messier than the natural ideal