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Junior pay continues to rise

Posted by: Laurence Simons 25/02/16
American firms are leading the way in terms of pay for newly qualified lawyers in the City of London. Chicago-based firm Kirkland & Ellis has bumped its starting salary up to a staggering £100,000, giving it entry the UK’s prestigious ‘100 club’.

The firm, who take on 12 newly qualified lawyers annually are now the 7th firm in the ‘100 club’ all of whom pay their newly qualified lawyers above the 6 figure mark. Leading the way are Sullivan & Cromwell, who currently pay their new qualified staff an astounding £101,500 annually, followed closely by Latham & Watkins at £101,000.  Other members of the exclusive ‘club’ are Akin Gump, Vinson & Elkins, Davis Polk and Weil Gotshal & Manges, all of which currently pay £100,000.

At present all ‘100 club’ members originate across the pond, with the highest paying ‘magic circle’ firm Allen & Overy trailing by a £21,500 a year. The ‘magic circle’ is struggling to keep pace with this new group of frontrunners, who are offering substantially more in terms of newly qualified pay. US firms justify such high levels of remuneration by offering less NQ contracts than their City of London based counterparts.

While much of the top talent is lured in by the higher levels of remuneration offered by American firms, young professionals should be aware that the culture will differ significantly between American and London based firms. The ‘magic circle’ are no slouches in demanding significant ROI from their people. But US firms are in a whole different league altogether. If you think you can earn this sort of salary so early in your career by merely turning up between 9-5 you are in for a very big surprise indeed!