[The following research was published in 2014. As promised, here’s an updated version for year 2016, click here]

As a legal recruiter and having interviewed over 2,000 lawyers during the past six years, I’ve heard lots of things about compensation.

Of course it’s not all about money. But if you work round-the-clock, like lawyers often do, you expect to get paid accordingly.

In Chile we don’t have Glassdoor nor RollOnFridays to benchmark salaries. Not until Idealis Reports started placing this valuable information in the hands of young lawyers who are trying to make career decisions.

Here are some tips to understand how much money lawyers make in Chile:

  1. Big law firms and boutique law firms pay more than other types of law firms. Tax and litigation lawyers working for those types of firms earn the highest salaries.
  2. Big law firms only hire graduates from specific universities.
  3. Outside the business district of the capital region salaries are definitely lower.The starting salary for a lawyer not based in Santiago can go as low as CLP250,000 net a month (approximately USD420, at the current exchange rate), whereas a first year associate from a big law firm can earn up to CLP1,6 million net a month (USD2,7000approximately). So far, we have not seen any other remunerated occupation where professionals exhibit such a wage gap in our country.
  4. Lawyers who do not make partners of their law firms will see their salaries stagnate, thus facilitating the up or out policy.
  5. The best career move (money-wise) for an associate in a top law firm is to switch at the right moment to a company (view chart).
  6. What about equal job equal pay? Meritocracy seems to be the rule for the first three years of law practice. There is a clear difference between lawyers who belong to what we can call groups A, B or C (group A being the best qualified lawyers and Group C the least). Gender equality suffers the hardest blow in law firms, especially in the case of ninth-year or plus associates. By then, male lawyers who belong to group C will have surpassed the income of female lawyers belonging to group B (view chart). Female lawyers from group A will only earn 77% of what a man from that same group gets paid.
  7. Lawyers employed by companies can be classified into deciles. The average monthly net base salary of the top decile is CLP9.9 million (USD16,780 approximately) (click here to view the amounts).
  8. Lawyers with full command of English can earn up to 46% more than those who are in the intermediate level.

In conclusion, lawyers graduated from the two (or perhaps three) top ranking universities, who are fully bilingual, men, and have started their careers at a top-notch law firm and have later on moved to a company are the ones who get a better paycheck at the end of the month.