This report, written by Stephen Wilks, Professor Emeritus at Exeter University, analysed profits-per-partner at the ‘magic circle’ of five elite law firms and the ‘big 4’ accountancy partnerships and estimates that 1,370 top lawyers and accountants were paid over £1 million in the UK in 2013. With Government figures reporting 11,000 people in the UK paying tax on incomes of over £1 million, these nine firms alone account for about 13% of million-pound pay packages in the UK.
It draws attention to the pay culture at the ‘big 4’ and the ‘magic circle’. While pay for bankers and corporate executives has been widely condemned in the wake of the financial crisis, lawyers and accountants have largely escaped criticism. The High Pay Centre argues that, because revenues for legal and accountancy firms are very consistent, with employees rarely moving between different firms, the standard defences of high pay do not apply.