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

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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.




Given that one must dedicate his or her life to the role, £70k is crap.


Sir Viv

But £500k+ is not so bad 10 years later on… I don’t understand all the negative comments on pay from big firms. Feels like a few posters justifying their own career decisions.

Fact is any job worth having in London is more of a 5-9 rather than a 9-5. Good luck to ’em I say…

If freedom to you is knocking off work to go down the pub/see family/mates/lover at 5:30 then good for you. Fact is – money in the bank buys you freedom. Freedom to do fuck all when you choose to quit or to invest and set up your own business. They can leave the city when they like but most of us will still be going home at 5:30 forever, unable to leave because of responsibilities that we pick up on the highway of life – never having the opportunity (with enough cash) of breaking out and doing something different.



Goddamn son, dat speech brought tears in my eyes. F**kin’ oath.


Quo Vadis

At what cost to their health? Their personal relationships? There are no pockets in a shroud.

It is the future of the family which should really concern us all. Most people below the age of 35 in professional occupations now find it impossible to have children. They may not be earning enough for childcare; they fear for their career if they ask to work part-time; or the home in which they live is simply not big enough to raise a family in. By the time they can afford to have children, their biological clock has struck twelve midnight.

It is our children who are most harmed by this madness. In the olden days, professionals used the labour of the working class to look after their children – the nanny, the babysitter, the wet nurse. Nowadays, it is the working class (and the long-term unemployed) themselves who are having the children – supported by the taxes paid by overworked professionals. Our schools are getting better, the teaching is excellent, and yet attainment is constantly falling – and we wonder why?

Let’s be heretical. The average person has eight hours’ focused, determined work in them per day. Anything more and we risk destroying the things which bring us true happiness. Two hundred years after Robert Owen and we are still crying out for “Eight hours’ labour, Eight hours’ recreation, Eight hours’ rest”.


Sir Viv

Most people throughout history have had to slog their guts out just to survive. The baby boomer (aka luckiest generation) 9-5 will be nothing but a blip.



Legalcheek have a massive hard on for Slaughters. Seriously “King of the establishment firm.” They’re not even the oldest MC firm or the best in any corporate league table.



Establishment = very conservative in terms if recruitment. Oxbridge galore, anyone?






And by that measure the magic circle are all Oxbridge obsessed. Freshfields and Slaughters the most from my experience – about 50% at each



You do realise Freshfields and Linklaters are both older firms? Freshfields is older by 150 odd years & was set up to advise the Bank of England. Calling S&M an “establishment” firm seems a bit OTT legal cheek.



According to A History of Freshfields William Wilberforce, Sir Robert Peel and Nathaniel Rotschild were all firm clients as well as the BoE for 270 years. As a city lawyer I can’t think of any firms being as establishment as Freshies tbh.



The figures for Links are out of date…



Not according to their graduate recruitment site. See –



Changes announced internally yesterday



Is it good news, for someone joining in the near future?


Disgruntled Future Trainee

If only other City firms puckered up and started paying more. Squire Patton Boggs, I’m looking at you – £35k/£58k is laughable.



Closing in on £43k at just over 3.5PQE.

Provincial lawyering doesn’t pay…


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