Lawyers' pay too high, says CBI chief

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The Independent Online

The leader of the Confederation of British Industry yesterday attacked the high fees paid to young lawyers working in the City.

The leader of the Confederation of British Industry yesterday attacked the high fees paid to young lawyers working in the City.

Digby Jones, Director General of the CBI, claimed many solicitors with just one year's experience were being paid between £40,000 and £50,000.

He said the fees "were very very worrying" and represented "a real imbalance", with lawyers working on social issues earning much less.

His comments follow a move by two of the biggest City law firms to award annual pay increases to lawyers who have been qualified for six months.

Allen & Overy and Linklaters & Alliance have both decided to award six-month qualified lawyers £45,000 salaries rising to £50,000 after one year's qualification.

Mr Jones, a solicitor and guest speaker at the Law Society's annual conference in London, said the imbalance between the high and low-paid lawyers had to be properly addressed. He called on leaders of the profession to remind Labour MPs in vulnerable constituencies that "access to justice" was an important issue for all their constituents. After the speech he said there was a genuine need to pay lawyers who work in the field of "social exclusion" a proper wage. The reason City law firms were paying such high wageswas the arrival of big American law practices offering much higher starting salaries.

He said partners did not deserve the "fat cat" label because many worked very long hours and risked their businesses if things went wrong.