Cleary Gottlieb hikes London NQ pay by 14% to £120,000

‘MoneyLaw’ movement continues its assault on the City

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton has upped the pay packets of its newly qualified (NQ) London lawyers to a staggering £120,000.

The New York headquartered giant has hiked remuneration by £15,000 (14%). The firm, which has 16 offices in 13 countries, offers around 15 City-based training contracts annually and boasts a most recent retention score of 100%.

Astonishingly, the firm’s first year associates (who presumably can’t believe their luck) were handed a sizeable 9% salary boost just five months ago. Then, their pay packets were taken from an already cool £96,000 to an eye-watering £105,000.

Now Cleary Gottlieb’s most recent cash boost has seen their associates leapfrog the likes of Davis Polk (£112,500), Weil Gotshal & Manges (£115,000) and Skadden (£118,000), and puts them on an earning par with the young lawyers over at Sidley Austin. However according to Legal Cheek’s Most List, Akin Gump and Kirkland & Ellis’ London cohorts — who unlike other firms peg their salaries against the dollar — are still the top earners in the City, pocketing as much as £147,000 a year.

Cleary Gottlieb’s pay moves appear to be a conscious effort by the firm’s management to replicate the big salary rises implemented by US players in the City last summer.

Kicking things off in June, fellow New York stalwart Cravath, Swaine & Moore hiked its new starter salaries to $180,000, which given today’s exchange rate equals £147,000. In a trend dubbed the ‘MoneyLaw’ movement, a large number of US firms followed Cravath’s lead, with some rather generously chucking similar pay rises at their London cohorts.

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49 Comments

Cleary NQ

*receives email detailing salary raise*

*dials phone*

“Hey Ahmad what’s up, yeah I’m good man, so, hey, could I make an order the quality white stuff for 5 Gs, regular drop off point, yeah it’s for a special occasion. Yeah, thanks, see you soon…blad.”

(62)(4)
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Anonymous

“Astonishingly, the firm’s first year associates (who presumably will never see daylight again, and have to carry pictures of their families around to remember what they look like)”

fixed that for you.

(13)(1)
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Anonymous

£120k now, that is an appropriate and reasonable salary for an NQ city lawyer (given the hours and level of bullshit one has to put up with).

(29)(0)
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Anonymous

The problem with that logic is that it would put your office cleaners on £1.2 million – imagine their levels of stress at having to put up with oiks like you!?

(6)(1)
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Bumblebee

Serious question: Who do I have to sleep with to stop my Westlaw account automatically timing out?

Arghhh, it’s so irritating!!

I’m being 100% serious. Just give me a time and a place; I’ll be there with lube and condoms, ready to go…

(29)(0)
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Jones Day Partner

21 Tudor Street, London EC4Y 0DJ. Tonight. 9pm sharp.

Can’t help with the Westlaw thing, of course, but the rest of your post suggests you have a great career ahead of you.

(33)(2)
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Anonymous

If you knew how God-awful it is to work there you would understand why they need to pay this much in order to retain their fee-earners.

(7)(2)
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Anonymous

Cleary are just matching the c.120k everyone else is paying. They had a compensation review a few months later than other firms.

Shame the trainee salaries are still identical to the MC; £50/55 should be the going rate this summer, they haven’t reacted to the MC putting up theirs.

(2)(1)
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Anonymous

MC hasn’t really put theirs up, isn’t it basically low 40s then high 40s still? I think it’s more than the MC should be putting their NQ up.

(2)(1)
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Anonymous

They have – used to be 39ish, then low 40s, US used to be about 45ish then 50…Links for example is now 43/49k, US firms haven’t moved.

The MC have put up their NQ salaries (which they overinflate publicly by including bonuses; note those juniors in the US get another 10+k on the 120k), but they can’t compete with the US firms, they’re absolutely nowhere near as profitable. US firms have:
Better relationships with top clients in key high-margin areas like PE.
Fewer lawyers in low margin areas of work.
Better managed firms – ditch under-performing partners quickly, few if any non fee-earning “management” lawyers taking but not contributing, flexibility to lower the equity share of anyone who has a bad year.

(0)(0)
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Anonymous

Absolutely true. The army of jobsworths (I am looking at you PSLs who work 5hs a day 3 days a week; useless BD managers; and arrogant CSR coordinators) that seems to be institutionalised in English firms is simply not present in lean, profitable US firms.

I worked in both US and UK firms and it was always incredible to me that people who are evidently doing very little or literally no work are kept on, left be and nobody seems to have an issue with that.

(14)(0)
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Anonymous

Theoretically, if they wanted to be consistent in this whole “raising the pay to US levels” game, the UK trainee salaries would have to be essentially the same as US NQ salaries. US lawyers are able to qualify and start as a first year associate earning USD 180k p.a. without a single day of legal work experience. Not saying it makes sense; just observing.

(1)(2)
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Anonymous

First of all, only top-tier firms pay 180K. Second, you need a top 14 (more likely a top 3) JD, which is 3 years long and will set you back 180K (tuition fees only). Third, the competition on all academic stages is insane (nothing like the UK, where you can get into a top 5 LLB by doing fuck all).

(2)(0)
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Anonymous

A bit exaggerating here, but roughly correct. It’s also worth bearing in mind that even less-than-top firms pay ~$160k in big metro areas (NYC, DC, Chicago, etc.) across the US, which is nothing to sniff at.

(0)(0)
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Irritated Anon

I was the Anon who posted the TC comment above. I find your post irritating and uninformed. NQ is the relevant grade to compare to the $180k USD. And the point was that the US firms are too close (or the same) to the UK firms in training salary, when they are more profitable and can afford to pay more to take up better talent and differentiate themselves now as having a commitment to being top of every market they’re in re compensation. I find it irritating that your post seems to be a response to my comment and you’re quoting words only attributing to yourself and warping the point completely into nonsense.

(0)(0)
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Anonymous

If you’re a Senior Associate you’re probably holding out for partnership, more stability, greater support staff, greater network etc. – broadly similar reasons to why people might choose MC over US firms more generally. And, despite the US firms’ progress, make no mistake, depending on your practice area the top MC firms still enjoy the bulk of the top-ticket work in the UK/Europe, as well as global mergers. It’s not all about the £ (or $), especially when you’re earning a lot by any measure.

(8)(5)
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