Allen & Overy salary rise pushes Slaughter and May to bottom of magic circle payscale

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By Alex Aldridge on

A&O is now the third best-paying out of the five magic circle firms — as elite end of law further detaches from rest of profession


The elite end of the solicitors’ profession may be shrinking — with training contract numbers at magic circle firms dropping by 25% since 2008 — but the money for those within it keeps on growing.

The latest member of the City aristocrats to raise remuneration is Allen & Overy, which yesterday evening announced pay hikes for its trainees and associates. First year trainees will now receive £40,000 (up from £39,000), second years £45,000 (up from £44,000) and newly qualified associates £66,500 (up from £64,000).


Higher up the ladder, A&O salaries for one year qualified associates (1PQE) increase from £69,500 to £72,500, 2PQE from £78,500 to £82,500 and 3PQE from £89,000 to £93,500. These are all, of course, rates for London. A&O does not disclose what it pays solicitors in its Belfast office.

The rises, which come into effect from 1 November, mean that A&O goes from worst-paying magic circle firm for London-based trainees and NQs to the third-best paying — trailing Clifford Chance and Freshfields, but beating Linklaters and Slaughter and May. With all of the magic circle having now raised their salaries this year, this pecking order is likely to hold at least into spring 2015.

An Allen & Overy spokesperson told Legal Cheek:

“Our decision to adjust compensation levels at this point is a reflection of the strength of our performance within the London office as we have made a positive start in the year to date. It is the hard work and effort of all of our people that underpins our success as a firm, and this is recognition of the contribution our trainees and associates make to that success.”

Of course, even with these salary rises the magic circle remain some way behind the London offices of top US firms in the pay stakes, where NQ pay reaches towards £100,000.

For a full comparison of trainee and NQ pay rates across the City, check out the Legal Cheek Most List.