Legal eagles flying high

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Investment bankers have a contender for the title of Australia's best paid profession: the country's top lawyers have also been doing well this year. Thanks to increased corporate activity, pay cheques are apparently as high as A$1.5m.

The law firms whose employees are included in the "million dollar-plus club" include Freehills, Clayton Utz, Corrs Chambers Westgarth and Baker & McKenzie. According to The Australian Financial Review these firms have been performing so strongly they're able to pay at least one-third of their equity partners a seven-figure salary.

Close on their heels are said to be Allens Arthur Robinson and Mallesons Stephen Jacques, whose senior partners are allegedly earning in the range of $850,000 to $950,000. Next in line are Minter Ellison, Deacons, Blake Dawson Waldron and Phillips Fox, which apparently pay senior partners around $700,000 to $750,000.

The Australian Financial Review says the increase in mergers and acquisitions and corporate litigation activity was a major catalyst in the increasing salaries. Plus top law firms are chasing the revenue streams from the growing superannuation funds and the lively private equity industry.

The value of M&A deals in Australia rose to around A$60 bn in 2005, nearly double the A$32 bn achieved in the downturn of 2002. Almost A$53bn in deals have already taken place in the 2006.

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