Career in Law | Blog

What Is A Fee Earner

Whether you are an established legal professional or just starting your career in law you will have come across the terminology of a fee earner be it in a job description or even in an advertised job role. However, this terminology can still be unclear what exactly it means, so today we will define what is a fee earner including different categories that exist,  fee earner jobs, qualification required and salary ranges. 

1. Fee earners definition 
A fee earner at a law firm effectively is someone who generates income for the firm. For example, if you charge a client for drafting a Will or providing advice this would be classed as fee generating. To be a fee earner you do not necessarily need to be in client contact. You could well be carrying out work on a file such as drafting letters on behalf of senior lawyers and the firm subsequently charges the client for your work. 

2. Fee earner categories 
We often see questions as to whether or not a paralegal can be classed as a fee earner. According to the law society, there are four categories of fee earners. Broadly speaking they are solicitors, trainee solicitors, chartered legal executives, costs lawyers, and paralegals. Whether a particular paralegal role can be classed as fee-earning would very much depend on the nature of work you carry out but as noted above if the firm charges a client for your work, that would then fall in the fee-earning category.

3. The role of fee earners
As noted above, any work which is carried out and subsequently charged to the client would be classed fee generating. Examples of work carried out could include but not limited to:

  1. letter drafting
  2. legal advice
  3. court attendance
  4. legal research
  5. analyzing documents
  6. clients representations in courts
  7. Liaising with other lawyers
  8. taking witness statements 
  9. attending client meetings
  10. documents drafting

4. How to qualify as a fee earner?
The type of qualification required would very much depend on the category from above. So for instance, if you are a solicitor or trainee you will require LPC and completed training contract, a chartered legal executive will need to complete CILex  Levels 3 & 6 followed by legal work experience of minimum three years, a costs lawyer will need to complete three years costs lawyer training programme and if you are a paralegal while there is no official qualification required, it is unlikely you can become a fee earner without substantial paralegal experience.

5. How much fee earners earn?
The salary range would very much depend on the type of fee earner. A Chartered Legal Executive could earn anything between £15,000 up to £46,000 in London area. A Costs Lawyer on average earns around £32,000 depending on the region. Paralegal salaries could vary between £15,000 up to £42,000 in London area. Our friends at Totaljobs have a useful salary checker which you could use to check the salaries for various fee earners. 

We hope you find this article useful and insightful. Please do share this with anyone who you believe may find it helpful.


Joe Simmons

Legal recruiter and blogger @purelegaljobs