News

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

By on
49

‘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.

For all the latest commercial awareness info, and advance notification of Legal Cheek’s careers events, sign up to the Legal Cheek Hub here.

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)

Anonymous

You’d think a Cleary NQ would be able to form a grammatically correct sentence…

(6)(25)

Cleary NQ

Gtfo dickwad.

(28)(3)

Anonymous

There is no hourly target for Associates.

The best advice is “bend over”!

(16)(0)

Anonymous

When will the SC increase wages?

(4)(7)

BLP equity partner

Never. Go back to billing, gimp!

(21)(1)

Adam Deen

Hah, SC. Jones Day craps all over you.

(1)(3)

Anonymous

it really doesn’t

(1)(1)

Adam Deen

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Lol of course it does, quit fooling yourself you joker. Jones Day > SC.

(0)(1)

Anonymous

To be fair, firms like Travers and Macs are more attractive places to train, in many ways

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Do you think moneylad will result in mid market raises too?

(5)(0)

Anonymous

It has to surely, and not just mid-market, top end of the UK market as well!

(4)(0)

Anonymous

Yeah firms like SPB, IM etc will surely follow suit in the next year or so.

(11)(0)

Anonymous

Heh. I meant the likes of Linklaters and co. But you still get a heh.

(6)(10)

How4you

This is so funny. You wish. You said this last year. Keep dreaming mate.

(1)(8)

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)

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).

(31)(0)

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!?

(7)(1)

Anonymous

About £40,000 more than magic circle counterparts….. for how much longer, though?

(19)(0)

Skadden NQ

Forever. MC is never matching these salaries, not a chance. Sozzles.

(2)(1)

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…

(30)(0)

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.

(35)(2)

Bumblebee

That was brutal…

I won’t be able to walk for a week.

(17)(1)

Jones Day Partner

Meh. 4/10

(9)(1)

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)

Anonymous

How bad can it be?

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Based on every single Clearys lawyer I’ve encountered, it’s hell.

(16)(0)

Anonymous

Serious q: do most people have a TC at the end of their LLB? If not, what should you do?

(1)(6)

Anonymous

Don’t study at Oxford Brookes or London South Bank.

(15)(2)

Anonymous

Dumb question of the year.

(1)(0)

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)

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)

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)

Anonymous

What will be the ‘new normal’ for US/MC/SC over the coming 5 years do you think?

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Do yer own research skidmark, I ain’ts got time fo’ dat!

(6)(0)

Anonymous

Learn English

(0)(0)

Anonymous

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(3)(0)

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)

Anonymous

Though if you’re a fee-earner there how’s that relevant to how you relate to the salary??

(0)(1)

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)

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)

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)

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)

Anonymous

Sorry. Would you like a cookie?

(0)(0)

Irwin Mitchell Trainee/Slave

The partners are thinking about upping our daily digestive allocation from one to one and a half.

(19)(0)

Anonymous

Hahaha! Thanks for that.

(1)(0)

NQ

How can an MC Senior Associate (on the same amount) not want to move?

(3)(0)

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)

Comments are closed.