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Slaughter and May is increasing its Christmas bonuses — but not by as much as Skadden

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Jealous? Just remember that Slaughter and May lawyers are themselves seething with resentment at Skadden lawyers

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Magic circle giant Slaughter and May has announced that it is upping bonuses in a move that will see its most senior associates earn as much of 15% of their salary as an extra Christmas treat.

Previously the firm’s maximum associate bonus — for those with four-and-a-half to six-and-a-half years post qualification experience (PQE) — was 12% of salary.

The payouts drop with level of seniority, so that Slaughters’ solicitors with two to four-and-a-half year PQE get 12.5% of their salary and those with one to two years of PQE get 10% of their salary. The equivalent figures in 2013 were, respectively, 10% and 8%.

Meanwhile, newly qualified (NQ) solicitors with up to six months of PQE will receive a bonus of 7.5% — up from 6% last year. With Slaughter and May NQs on £65,000, the payment is worth £4,875.

Trainees at the firm, meanwhile, get a bonus of 3% — unchanged from last year.

Those looking on enviously can take a small amount of heart from the fact that only lawyers who have shown “good or exceptional” performance net these extra readies. However the rest still get something. According to Slaughter and May, those “who do not attain this level of achievement” will “receive a lower bonus percentage”.

Still jealous? Well just remember that Slaughter and May lawyers are themselves seething with resentment at the banker-level Christmas bonuses handed out by US firms.

Previously, the huge wedges of cash awarded by elite American outfits were disseminated largely in New York, but this year Skadden is rumoured to have broken with tradition to pay top-performing London senior associates bonuses of up to £64,000 ($100,000). That figure is said to drop gradually as you move down the seniority ranks, with even lowly NQs getting £10,000.

If the Skadden gossip — reported by the RollOnFriday blog is true — expect other US firms’ City of London offices to follow.