Slaughter and May leaps to top of magic circle newly-qualified pay pile

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By Judge John Hack on

King of the establishment firm hits psychologically important £70k mark, but still trails well behind Yanks in City


Old-school tie magic circle firm Slaughter and May has leapt to the top of the young lawyer English pay league today — bumping up salaries for newly-qualified staff and trainees.

Freshly-minted lawyers at S&M will now be on £70,000 — a rise of more than 7.5% that means those junior solicitors will be at lest £2,500 better off than their magic circle counterparts.

Indeed, the move could trigger a Square Mile pay war as Slaughter and May becomes the best paying English firm. Its closest rivals are Canary Wharf giant Clifford Chance and Anglo-German mega-firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, both of which chuck their NQs annual whacks of £67,500.

Magic circle newly-qualified pay is rounded out by Allen & Overy on £66,500, and the poor-boys of the gang, Linklaters, where NQs struggle on £65,000.

Trainee joy

S&M trainees are also benefiting from the senior partners’ flush of munificence. First-year trainees will get a one grand rise taking them to £41,000. That whack rises to £46,000 in the second year.

The boost takes Slaughter and May to the top of the English trainee pay league as well. In relation to both newly qualified and trainee salaries, the firm now only trails the London offices of the moneybags US law firms.

But it has a long way to go before catching them up. According to the Legal Cheek Most List, Akin Gump, Davis Polk and Sullivan & Cromwell all pay their NQs a smooth £100,000. However, S&M is within striking distance of White & Case — currently in 10th position on the pay table — where NQs currently are on £72,000.

Likewise, the US firms continue to rule the trainee pay market. The Legal Cheek table has Davis Polk and Sullivan & Cromwell on top, each chucking their first-year trainees £50,000.

Hard work

Slaughter and May also threw some cash at second and third-year PQE lawyers. Pay for the former rose from £79,000 to £87,000, while for the latter it went from £89,000 to £96,500.

Explaining the Christmas-arrives-early approach at Bunhill Row, S&M executive partner Richard Clark said:

“These salary increases reflect the fact that we recognise the importance of rewarding our lawyers for their hard work and commitment to the firm.”

Take note, rest of MC.

Which firms pay the most? Check out the Legal Cheek Most List for the full rankings.