Akin Gump London office latest to up NQ pay to £127k and beyond

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By Thomas Connelly on

City lawyers at Washington-based giant beneficiaries of US salary war and Brexit fears


Akin Gump is the latest US law firm to offer an astonishing £127,000 to its newly qualified (NQ) lawyers based in London.

The firm — which hands out around four City-based training contracts annually — has followed the likes of Kirkland & Ellis, Latham & Watkins, Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy, Davis Polk and Simpson Thacher in chucking US pay increases at its London-based NQ cohort.

Fresh faced associates at Akin Gump’s London office — who were already pocketing a cool £100,000 — now walk away with a market busting £127,000, an increase of well over 25%.

Last week, New York-headquartered giant Cravath, Swaine & Moore took it upon themselves to up junior lawyer pay packets from $160,000 (£110,000) to $180,000 (£124,000). And with the pound falling sharply against the dollar this morning amid fears of Brexit this equates today to over £127,000 per annum.


That move sent shockwaves through the US legal market, with many of the top firms forced to follow Cravath’s lead and stump up the cash.

According to Above the Law, magic circle outfits Freshfields and Clifford Chance have increased pay for their US NQs to the new £124,000 plus level. But, as yet, this has not been matched at their offices in the UK (currently at £85,000 — only two thirds of what their American counterparts earn).

Now with half-a-dozen US firms adopting the “Cravath pay scale” at their London-outposts, it would appear a new band of mega-paying white shoe outfits is emerging within the City. Magic circle firms Freshfields and Clifford Chance — having followed Cravath and upping US NQ pay — will now face immense pressure to do the same this side of the pond.

A gesture which would entail whopping, possibly record-breaking, 50% pay rises. Lawsome.